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  1. #1
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    Default Can a Public School Student Refuse Standardized Testing

    My question involves education law in the State of: Michigan

    We have refused MSTEP for three years in our local brick and mortar school. We have always submitted the opt-out form from Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor and despite some unhappy principals, we have had no issues.

    This coming year, we have decided to do an online public school. It is a charter school whose terms of enrollment (you check a box agreeing) include taking the MSTEP. I have attempted to get answers from the Michigan Department of Education and even from the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor about this, but I never get a direct answer. I only get things like, "Charter schools are subject to different laws" and "Public schools are required to administer the test". Nobody will give me a direct answer.

    I know charters can be forced to close their doors if they don't meet requirements of MSTEP. I get that part. What I am not being told is if their "terms of enrollment" os binding since it is a public school that cannot refuse a student of normal circumstances (no discipline issues, etc) to begin with if they are not at student capacity. The next thing I am wondering is what can they do if a student doesn't show up to take this test? Can they kick a student out for it? What happens if the student shows up but randomly selects answers (not really "doing" this test)? I am also curious about personal surveys some schools have been known to do asking very personal information along with other things like benchmark tests. We opt out of ALL of that which is not inclusive of report card grades. I would think that much of this would be included in Michigan School Code Section 380.10 where it discusses a parent's "fundamental parental rights"...are charters exempt from that one, too?

    Why is this "Charter School" word such a big secret and nobody wants to give me straight answers? Please help! Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Refusal Standardized Testing

    Why are you against standardized tests? This seems like a lot of angst for something innocuous.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Refusal Standardized Testing

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Why are you against standardized tests? This seems like a lot of angst for something innocuous.
    I am wondering if the schoool can expel for refusal to take the test. Can they do that?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Refusal Standardized Testing

    Quote Quoting ctcr201
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    I am wondering if the schoool can expel for refusal to take the test. Can they do that?
    Since I have never seen anyone ask that question before, I don't know. However, I do think that its likely that we would need to know why you are objecting, before we can determine the answer to your question. Its normally state education law that mandates the testing.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Refusal Standardized Testing

    I ask a simple question and I’m met with someone who clearly has some type of animosity on the subject and feels they need to parent me. I’m not 10. I’ve been out of school for almost 30 years. I certainly don’t need a schooling from a Dr Phil imposter. How sad are you that you cannot keep your feelings to yourself and answer a stupid simple question.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can a Public School Student Refuse Standardized Testing

    Quote Quoting ctcr201
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    It is a charter school whose terms of enrollment (you check a box agreeing) include taking the MSTEP. I have attempted to get answers from the Michigan Department of Education and even from the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor about this, but I never get a direct answer.
    It is a charter school. Your son's enrollment in that school is voluntary on your part. He could simply be back in the regular brick and mortar school. In order to get your kid into that voluntary program, you agreed to certain conditions, including the MSTEP. If you don't follow the agreed conditions, it is certainly possible that the school might kick the kid out and say he has to return to the regular public school to which he would otherwise be assigned instead. Whether it would actually do that, I cannot say of course as I know nothing about the school. Whether the law would allow the school to do it is unclear; Michigan law does not seem to directly address that issue. When in comes to charter schools in Michigan there aren't as many rules on what the school can and can't do. Thus that’s just a risk you'd take if your kid doesn't take the test as you agreed upon when enrolling him.

    If you want an opinion to see if you would have grounds for a legal challenge if the school removed your kid and sent him back to the regular brick and mortar school, see an attorney in Michigan who is experienced in education law in that state.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can a Public School Student Refuse Standardized Testing

    Quote Quoting ctcr201
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    This coming year, we have decided to do an online public school. It is a charter school whose terms of enrollment (you check a box agreeing) include taking the MSTEP. I have attempted to get answers from the Michigan Department of Education and even from the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor about this, but I never get a direct answer. I only get things like, "Charter schools are subject to different laws" and "Public schools are required to administer the test". Nobody will give me a direct answer.
    They probably have not encountered this situation before and can provide no clear answer based upon the state regulations. They are not going to assure you that you can ignore the terms you agreed to when you enrolled your child in the school, because they don't know what the school will do and there is no clear recourse in the law (other than enrolling in a different school) if your child's enrollment is terminated due to your refusal.

    In broad terms, schools are required to administer standardized testing, and under federal law and regulations all students are supposed to participate. Students do not have a right to opt out of those tests. MDE policy is to respect parent choice, but given that schools may face a consequence if insufficient numbers of their students take the test that policy would be subject to revision if high levels of non-participation threatened a school's funding.

    An online charter school would have two strong reasons to mandate participation. First, on the whole, online charter schools have absolutely terrible performance -- students tend to backslide academically for every year of enrollment. Your child's online charter may be experimenting with methods that are intended to prevent that sort of backsliding or, let's hope, that will result in a child's advancement at a level at least on par with a brick and mortar school. It may also be worried that due to the nature of distance learning, without a mandate parents may do little to cooperate with testing resulting in inadequate levels of participation and loss of funding.

    You have already consented to take the M-STEP and, needless to say, that complicates your situation. What you could have done is ask the school, up front, "How can I enroll without agreeing to participate in M-STEP?" You can still ask the school, right now, "What will happen if I refuse to participate in M-STEP?"

    The school will have a policy to deal with student non-participation in M-STEP. But as you and your child have no right to opt out of M-STEP, they can hold you accountable if your child fails to participate as agreed, and nobody here can promise how your failure to do so will affect your child's enrollment or ability to re-enroll in a subsequent year. You must speak to the school.
    Quote Quoting ctcr201
    What happens if the student shows up but randomly selects answers (not really "doing" this test)?
    If your child's test results show performance far below grade level, then you may find that your child cannot participate in the online charter due to its inability to provide the type of educational support that your child requires.
    Quote Quoting ctcr201
    I would think that much of this would be included in Michigan School Code Section 380.10 where it discusses a parent's "fundamental parental rights"...are charters exempt from that one, too?
    Nothing in that law gives parents the right to opt out of any testing, including the M-STEP.
    Quote Quoting ctcr201
    Why is this "Charter School" word such a big secret
    The charter school, itself, should be able to provide an answer. Nobody can answer the question in general terms, as the answer will be school-specific.
    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Why are you against standardized tests? This seems like a lot of angst for something innocuous.
    If you have an issue you're looking for, such as whether there is a religious component to the objection, it would be more constructive to ask a direct question. That manner of phrasing can be seen as argumentative.
    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    If you want an opinion to see if you would have grounds for a legal challenge if the school removed your kid and sent him back to the regular brick and mortar school, see an attorney in Michigan who is experienced in education law in that state.
    A lawyer may be able to advise on disciplinary policy, when a school may suspend or expel a student for failing to take a test, but there is no law that prevents a school from imposing a consequence on a student who refuses academic testing, and I can see nothing that would require a charter school to allow a student to re-enroll after refusing to abide by the prior year's enrollment agreement.

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