Utah State School Board approves policies for opting students out of state-mandated tests

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Members of the Utah State School Board gave a final vote Friday to approve policies for parents who want to opt their children out of state mandated testing.

Legislators passed two bills in the last session–one that allows parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and another that requires high school students to pass a civics test before they can graduate.

The civics exam is the same test immigrants are required to take when they become citizens. Rep. Steve Eliason, R-District 45, co-sponsored the bill.

“Nationwide surveys showed that only 20 percent of adults can name one right guaranteed under the First Amendment,” Elisaon said. “More students thought Larry, Curly and Moe were branches of government than the proper answer. They can name more judges on American Idol than they can on the Supreme Court.”

The state school board approved a policy that allows parents to opt their children out of standardized tests, but high school students who opt out of the civics test will not be able to graduate.

“It’s kind of a conundrum with that,” said Laura Belnap of the Utah State School Board. “Because they have to take the civics test to graduate, however, it’s also a state-mandated test, so they can opt out of it. And so if they can’t opt out of it, they can’t graduate.”

Eliason says students should be able to pass the exam, because the questions and answers are available online, and they can take the test as many times as they need to in order to pass it.

“There’s no tricks about this test, unlike standardized tests where it’s kept very secret and you’re not allowed to access the questions before or even after the test,” Elisason said.

Members of the state school board say parents who are concerned about their kids taking state-mandated tests should understand the role the play in helping a child succeed.

“Because as students take these assessments, the teachers can then come back to the parents and show them the results on the assessments and really target the weaknesses the students have or show where the student is achieving,” said Angie Stallings of the Utah State School Board. “And so it’s really a great tool for parents in addition to students.”

Currently, the opt out rate is 3 percent in Utah. Stallings says if too many students opt out, the state is at risk of losing funding.

“Our state receives about 100 million dollars under that program,” she said. “And if our opt-out rates increase, that could put that 100 million dollars in jeopardy.”

The school board said they would have forms parents can fill out if they want their child to opt out of an exam, and while they weren't available online Friday, they will be posted here once they are available. The civics test is also available online.

6 comments

  • Travis

    This is not an issue with opting out of the test, it is an issue that the teachers now lack to teach. You want that 100 million dollars in funding for what? To make sure your teachers get paid without having to do their jobs. Have you ever wondered why the graduation rates are so low throughout the nation? No, you only care about your funding. You do not care if anyone graduates. You just want the money. Blame the teachers, and the school system, not the parents or the students. What a joke.

    • bob

      I’m married to a teacher. She’s expected to raise your children, educate them, AND test….test….test….re-test, test some more, test again, and then carry on testing. Every day. Continuously. While various “administrators” observe her directly several times a week.

      The problem is the “educate” part only happens a couple of hours a week, at best.

      Your children are failing for two reasons: First, you are not doing YOUR jobs as parents. Educating children is YOUR job. Schools are merely a tool that you use. Second, you don’t allow teachers to do THEIR jobs. You have them on trial continuously. All that testing is about the teachers, not the students, and the teachers can’t look good because they never get a chance to TEACH, so how can the kids be expected to do well?

      50 years ago there was no “standardized testing” in schools AT ALL, must less the daily absurdity we see now. Tell me education has improved since then.

      My kids have always been “opted out” of testing, but I insist they use that time to READ BOOKS. I have no interest in forcing my children to waste their valuable time filling in little circles with #2 pencils. It doesn’t mean anything. Educated people READ.

      • bob

        By the way, she works 10 to 12 hours a day in her classroom, and spends endless hours at home answering emails from parents who are almost always complaining that their kid isn’t “happy.”

        That’s a huge thing with the current generation of parents. Their offspring have to be deliriously “happy” all the time, even if it takes drugs to achieve that.

        My wife is paid to EDUCATE your children, not make their lives a constant amusement park visit.

        And she does all that for a wage that, if we were trying to live on it as a family, would qualify us for food stamps.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    The liberals running our country that hatched up No Child Left Behind are also responsible for this phony testing program.

    • bob

      NCLB was a George W. Bush idea, but you’re right: He was a flaming liberal. In addition to that, his “prescription drug program” was the single largest entitlement program in U.S. history.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        Bush was president when the liberal congress voted on this bill …. which he signed. The program is designed to slow the kids down who want to study so that those who don’t can catch up.

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