Each and every year there are emotional struggles between parents and school and state officials over standardized testing. Can parents opt out their children from these assessments? Unfortunately, many of these battles occur privately as individual families struggle one at a time without the support or even knowledge of the community. Thankfully, some families publicized their struggle. Unfortunately, the outcome is usually the same.
Whether it's the old NECAPs or the even more controversial Smarter Balanced assessments officials attempt to bludgeon parents into compliance with state law, which they misinterpret to their advantage. State law, RSA 193-C:6, requires districts to administer statewide assessments, but it does not say that children can be forced to take these assessments in opposition to the objections of their parent. One principal went to far as to confine a student in his office, refused to allow her to call her parent, and insisted that she take the assessments in opposition to her parent's written instructions to the school or face immediate suspension. This "principal of the year" violated multiple school policies, which does not allow a principal to bully a student against his parent's instructions, nor does it allow the principal to suspend a student without cause.
State law acknowledges that exemptions are allowed for certain students, but fails to explicitly define those exemptions. The legislature allows the state board of education to create rules, definining "exemptions" and their rules were written in a very restrictive manner. Here's an excerpt from the department's website:
Students with very serious, chronic, and fragile medical conditions can and do participate successfully in statewide assessment. However, there are rare and unique situations in which a student is unable to participate in any part of statewide assessment. Such decisions must be made with the greatest care and restraint. Every student has the right to participate in statewide assessment in order to show what he or she knows and is able to do as compared to state curriculum standards.
Rule of Thumb:
If the student can receive instruction, the student can participate in statewide assessment.
As result every year parents are badgered by school admininstrators. Yet every year parents push back simply refuse to allow their children to take these assessments. This is the result of overly restrictive regulations: parent refusals have become time-honored tradition in New Hampshire. Notice that parent refusals are given an honorable mention in the department of educations yearly summaries.
It is extremely important for parents to understand that they do not need to ask permission from their public servants to opt out of testing. They must instruct their public servants in writing that they object to these assessments and that their child will not be taking them so there is no misunderstanding.