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School Employees Rights regarding opting out of standardized testing

What is the CAASPP System?

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) is the state’s system of mandated and optional assessments. It currently includes three mandated tests: Smarter Balanced Assessments, California Alternate Assessments, and California Science Assessments. The Smarter Balanced Assessments are in English language arts and mathematics for grades 3 through 8 and 11. For more information on CAASPP, visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca.

What are my rights as an educator? As a teacher, may I inform parents about their right to excuse their child from CAASPP state testing?

A California regulation allows educators to inform parents of their right to opt out of high-stakes testing for their child, but prohibits them from soliciting or encouraging the parent to do so. Section 852 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations provides that: “An LEA (local education agency) and its employees may discuss the CAASPP assessment system with parents and may inform parents of the availability of exemptions under Education Code section 60615. The LEA and its employees shall not solicit or encourage any written exemption request on behalf of any child or group of children.” 5 C.C.R. § 852(c)

Questions inevitably arise about the difference between informing parents about opting out and encouraging them to opt out. Each situation must be evaluated on an individual basis, but the clearly permissible end of the spectrum would be simply to inform parents of their right to excuse their child from the Smarter Balanced Assessment of the CAASPP system without offering any opinion about the test itself, or the effect the test would have on their individual child. Responding to questions from parents or guardians about opting out without actively encouraging such questions would also be acceptable. At the opposite end of this spectrum would be actively criticizing the test in a parent conference or back-to-school night and urging or soliciting parents to opt out. In addition, such criticism may not be protected under the First Amendment since a school district could reasonably view this as disruptive to test administration.

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