Assignment: Education – Opt-Out Legislation

Standardized test that sparked criticism in Wisconsin, across the nation wraps up for the school year

The testing period for the newly introduced Badger Exam is now closed.

Here’s a look at the final numbers in La Crosse County school districts after the testing window closed on Friday, May 22.

School District Opt-Out Total Tested Bangor 2 300 Holmen 4 1,703 Onalaska 9 1,305 La Crosse 29 2,862 West Salem 5 730

The opt-out of standardized testing movement gained momentum across the country.

Tens of thousands of parents and students nationwide refused to participate in the new exams aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

While the opt-out movement did not gain much traction in our area, this is the highest number of opt-out requests the majority of these school districts have seen in recent history.

The movement grew as some people were unhappy with the common core academic standards and others say there is an overemphasis on testing.

A new bill is expected to be introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature this week that would require schools to provide parents with a list of standardized tests every year and inform them of how to opt-out.

The Director of Instructional Services with the Onalaska School District Roger Fruit says his district already does this.

“It wouldn’t be new information to our parents. If there is a stipulation about how it has to be communicated, or something like that, that could be a change,” said Fruit.

Now, if more than five percent of parents choose to opt their child out of the federally mandated standardized exams, school districts are penalized.

This proposed bill would remove that penalty which is currently used against schools on their report cards.

The superintendent of the West Salem School District says punishing districts because people opt-out is in need of reconsideration.

“We’ve had situations where a handful of students opted out and then we receive a district-wide penalty for not meeting that mark,” said Troy Gunderson, West Salem School District superintendent. “That’s something we’re interested in especially if we’re going to add flexibility to parents, allow them to either opt in or opt out. We as school districts need to be off the hook in terms of accountability for that.”

The proposed bill is expected to go before legislators this week.

Once the bill is assigned a legislative committee a hearing will be held on the issue.