To: The Legislative Champions of HB2655
From: Oregon Save Our Schools
Re: The Bureaucratic Highjacking of HB2655
We have just learned that the Department of Education intends to require all parents who wish to opt their children out of summative testing to sign the following statement as part of their request to have their child opted out:
"I understand that by signing this form I may lose valuable information about how well my child is progressing in English Language Arts and Math. In addition, opting out may impact my school and district’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning."
We believe this to be a flagrant and outrageous perversion of legislative intent in regard to Hb2655, and we seek your support and help in challenging it,and demanding that it be changed.
This act by the Department of Education is the latest in a series of efforts that can only be seen as attempts to weaken and even reverse the intent of HB2655. At the October 22nd, 2015 meeting of the Oregon State Board of Education, Representative Frederick testified against an attempt to interpret HB2655 in a narrow and restrictive manner, saying in part, "And while the law requires the notice to parents to include, 'An explanation of the purpose and value of statewide summative assessments' I do not believe the legislature intended that to read as a marketing tool for he SBAC--" It would seem to follow that the legislature also did not intend that section to include a warning about the potential "damage" that opting out could cause to the student and to the school!
In that same testimony,Representative Frederick also addressed the spurious claim that opting out may result in loss of federal funding, a claim which obviously underlies the false statement (above) that "opting out may impact my school and district's effort to equitably distribute resources and support student learning." To quote Representative Frederick further, he notes, " I have met with members of Congress,and I can tell you that there is less appetite for continuing the participation mandate than there is in the Oregon Department of Education."
At that same meeting, Dr. Rex Hagans, one of the founders of Oregon Save Our Schools also testified, saying in part:
"Oregon Save Our Schools is dismayed by the extent to which the ODE continues to behave as if the misguided policies and methods set in motion by the so-called reformers are the correct ones. We find the tactics in use to be far too similar to those long used nationally in order to prop up a fatally flawed strategy.
· Explicitly discouraging parents from opting their children out of testing in direct contradiction of the intent of HB2655 to make parents aware that they have the right to opt out and should feel free to use it. We have seen this in the wording of Dr. Noor’s Executive Order, and in drafts of proposed parent
information. Making false and/or unsubstantiated claims about the value and usefulness of the SBAC
· Usurping the power to interpret the intent of the legislature in regard to which tests are actually subject to HB2655, and attempting to severely limit the rights of parents."
We directly question the accuracy in this shameful statement which parents are being forced to sign that "I" (meaning the parent) may lose valuable information about how well my child is progressing in English Language Arts and Math." We assert that there is no useful information about the students progress which is given to any parent and also assert that the totality of the information garnered from SBAC is essentially worthless to teachers and other educators in improving instruction of the student.
We intend to demand a hearing on this matter at the next meeting of the State Board of Education on December 10th. We ask that you support our demand for that hearing and join us in testifying there. We also seek your advice as to other avenues that we might pursue to stop this disgraceful behavior on the part of our top education officials.