2016 Bills

HB 164: Undermining Parental Rights in Education

This bill was held in committee, not receiving a full vote by the legislature.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

Under current law, a student’s computer adaptive tests results—used to measure performance throughout the school year—may not be used in determining the student’s grade. House Bill 164, sponsored by Representative Kraig Powell, would change that. The bill strikes the word “not,” resulting in schools being able to include assessments during the year in computer a student’s grade in the course.

The bill also reduces the legal ability of a parent to opt their child out of these assessments. Established law intended to allow parents to opt their children out of a broad range of these assessments, but the State Board of Education, through counsel from the Attorney General’s office, issued a narrow interpretation that substantially reduced the list of which assessments were subject to an opt-out. That narrowing would be codified under HB164, which would only allow parent to opt their child out of “an end-of-grade-level assessment,” thus eliminating the option to do so for the adaptive assessments required of students throughout the year.

Further, the bill would undermine existing law which prevents schools from incentivizing children to take these high-stakes tests—tests for which teachers and schools are held accountable, increasing the motivation to perform well on the exams and, as a result, focus less on the well rounded education of the student. HB164 would repeal the law stating that schools “may not reward a student for taking an assessment,” replacing it with a provision saying that students may not be penalized for opting out.

What this means is that children may be pitted against parents who opt their children out. The child’s peers will be bribed into taking the exam, and performing well, with food, parties, or other activities—and the child will feel left out, and resentful against the parent who opts the child out.

The underlying law should remain as is.