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Local school districts react to testing opt-out bill

Education (MGN Online photo)

A new state bill making its way to the senate will allow students between grades 3-12 to opt out of standardized tests.

"The old law only spoke to 4th, 8th, 9th ,10th and 11th grade having a process for opting out and then left it up to school districts to decide how to handle opt out at other grades," said Stephen Mill, the Director of Assessment for Green Bay school.

Miller added the new bill will include all grades that take standardized tests.

"We don't have many students opt out in Green Bay but the most common reason that a parent will say they want to opt out is they are concerned about standardized assessment and its impact on their child," Miller said.

John Johnson with the Department of Public Instruction said students take about one standardized test per year.

The Forward Exam is taken from third grade through eighth grade.

The Aspire exam is taken in grades nine and 10 and the ACT is taken in the 11th grade.

Johnson explained even though students can opt out of three tests, they can't opt out of the Civic Exam.

"The legislature implemented and made mandatory for graduation a civics test," Johnson said.

Miller said there's a lot of beneficial information a district can get from the test.

"In the past the state has used those results to inform districts of how many students are proficient in reading and math," Miller said.

Brain Hanes, the superintendent of the Ashwaubenon School District, says there are other ways to evaluate students.

"Quality school districts, they do multiple assessments. Any one test does not certainly paint the picture; it's not all inclusive to measuring a student's performance," Hanes said.

Under the bill, schools would not be penalized on accountability reports for students who don't take tests.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.

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