Dear Wimberley ISD Parents,
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Given recent local news cast and other media sources, a few parents have inquired about “opting out” of State-mandated standardized tests. The purpose of this letter is to assist you in understanding the district’s role in state testing and the constraints upon Wimberley ISD and your local campus administration. I encourage you to review the applicable law below from the Texas Education Code pertaining to State-mandated accountability testing and to contact the Texas Education Agency if you question this interpretation of the law.
TEC: Sec. 26.010.
EXEMPTION FROM INSTRUCTION.
(a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent's child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent's child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity. A parent is not entitled to remove the parent's child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester. (b) This section does nonexempt a child from satisfying grade level or graduation requirements in a manner acceptable to the school district and the agency.
In accordance with Sec. 26.010, a district must administer the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests, End of Course Exams in high school, and other diagnostic tests in primary grades. Texas Education Code 39.023(a) requires “all students” to be assessed with the appropriate test (that section includes references to alternate tests for some limited English proficient students and students that receive special education services). The district does not have a choice as to whether to administer the state tests to all of its students.
When students do not attend school on a testing day in effort to abstain from taking the exams, the district is forced by law to classify the absence as unexcused. By law, the district cannot provide alternative activities other than the test. Any district or campus involved with any form of “selective student testing” would be subject to sanctions by the Texas Education Agency and possibly harmed in the federal rating system by a low participation rate.
First-time 9th graders and middle school students enrolled in high school courses are responsible for End-of-Course exams in core subject areas that count for graduation requirements. Additionally, the state’s Student Success Initiative (SSI) grade advancement requirements will apply to the STAAR reading and mathematics tests at grades 5 and 8. As specified by these requirements, a student may advance to the next grade level only by passing these tests or by unanimous decision of his or her grade placement committee. In addition, schools and districts count on the performance of all of their students in order to accurately measure their progress in meeting state and federal accountability requirements.
Although we and others might be empathetic with concerns regarding the mandated state assessments, by law, there is no opt out for students. Our desire is to work with parents and the community to create support structures for our students and make testing as limited and minimally invasive as possible.
Wimberley ISD does use the data that is generated by the state mandated tests to assess student’s strengths and areas where they may need additional help. It helps teachers better prepare for teaching specific skills to students. We would like to focus on the students individually rather than state requirements.