Statement from The Education Trust on the Opt-Out Amendment #2162
WASHINGTON (July 14, 2015) — The Education Trust issued the following statement today on Amendment 2162, an opt-out amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, offered by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
“The Education Trust opposes Amendment 2162, which would require states to allow students to opt — or be opted — out of statewide assessments for any reason, effectively nullifying state policies on test participation. States use statewide standards, and the assessments based on them, to serve as a check to ensure the vulnerable students who are the focus of federal law are not being subjected to lower expectations than their peers.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky, for example, has made it clear that students can opt out of the state’s public school system, but if they choose to attend public schools, they will participate in assessments. Amendment 2162 would undermine that decision and decisions like it across the country.
“Kentucky State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says, ‘As a state, information on how students are performing is essential to improving learning outcomes for all children. We cannot improve public education without a clear understanding of how each child is performing academically and how schools are meeting the needs of all students. If this amendment passes, it will put students, parents, teachers and schools at a disadvantage by taking away the opportunity to see a complete picture of how kids are performing and how we can help them.’
“Under this amendment students who opt out would not be counted in the 95 percent participation rate requirement for a state’s accountability system, thereby undermining the expectation that schools are accountable for the academic progress of all students. Until federal law insisted that all children be included in statewide assessments, schools could and did mask disparities by excluding certain children — especially low-income students, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities — from tests. This amendment would take us back to that time.”
The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people — especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino, or American Indian — to lives on the margins of the American mainstream.