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Student Testing Q&A

What is the CAASPP System?  California Education Code section 60640 established the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System.  The CAASPP System replaces the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) Program, which ended on July 1, 2013.  CAASPP is a system of state-mandated assessments, and it includes, for example, the computer-based Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in English-language arts and mathematics for grades 3 through 8 and 11.  For a more detailed description of the program, see the California Department of Education’s website, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/cefcaaspp.asp.

Can parents opt out of state testing for their child?  Yes.  California Education Code section 60615 provides, “Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, a parent’s or guardian’s written request to school officials to exclude his or her child from any or all parts of the assessments administered pursuant to this chapter shall be granted.”  Section 852 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations further provides that parents or guardians may annually submit a written request to the school to excuse their child from any or all parts of the CAASPP for the school year.  See 5 C.C.R. §852(c).

What if a parent opts out after CAASPP testing has already started?  If the parent’s request is submitted after testing has begun, any completed tests will be scored and the results will be reported to the parent or guardian and included in the pupil’s records.  See 5 C.C.R. § 852(c).

As a teacher, may I inform parents about their right to excuse their child from CAASPP state testing?  Section 852 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations provides that a district 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” but the district and 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) (emphasis added).

Questions inevitably arise about the difference between informing parents about the exemptions and encouraging them to seek exemptions.  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 opt their student out of the CAASPP assessment 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 the waivers without 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 parents to opt their children out by submitting an exemption request.  If you have questions about these rights and obligations, please contact your primary contact staff.

Does Education Code section 60615 exemption apply to the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)?  No.  All high school students in California must pass the CAHSEE in order to graduate from high school.  Cal. Educ. Code § 60851.  The only exemption is for eligible students with disabilities.  For more details on this exemption, see the California Department of Education website, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/hs/cahseefaqexempt.asp.     

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