Opt-Out Legislation in Delaware Risks Undermining Parents’, Teachers’ Access to Honest Information about Student Development

Lawmakers in Delaware are working to walk back the state’s efforts to provide parents and teachers’ with accurate information about student development, the Associated Press reports. Led by State Rep. John Kowalko, they are challenging Gov. Markell’s veto of a bill allowing students to opt out of Delaware’s Smarter Balanced assessments without repercussions.

Gov. Markell, an advocate for high academic standards and high-quality assessments, has said allowing students to refuse state tests could marginalize at-need students and impede efforts to give families honest information about how well their children are doing.

This year Delaware, like most states across the country, passed an important milestone by administering assessments aligned to Common Core State Standards. As Karen Nussle explains, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college or a career…For parents and educators, that should come as a welcome change.”

The results from these new assessments have pulled back the curtain on the reality that for a long time states inflated student readiness measures to give a rosy, but often misleading, perception of how well students were being prepared. This was made clear by the Honesty Gap analysis last May.

Mike Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute, wrote last year that while the results from new tests have been “sobering,” families and lawmakers “should resist the siren song of those who want to use this moment of truth to attack the Common Core or associated tests. They may not be perfect, but they are finally giving parents, educators and taxpayers an honest assessment of how our students are doing.”