Speaking Out For Parental Rights in Utah- Opt Out of SAGE

17 Apr, 2015 by in AIR, opt out, parental rights, SAGE, testing, utah education Leave a comment


Photo credit Wendell Ashby

Last night Christel Swasey and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with members of the community as part of a Locally Directed Education meeting.

We shared our concerns about computerized adaptive testing in Utah and data collection. As promised, here are some helpful links and articles about AIR (the company behind SAGE), parental rights code, and the opt out policy being proposed by the Utah State Office of Education.

Who Is Behind the SAGE Portal and Test?


AIR-logo (1)

AIR- American Institutes of Research

About  (from their website) AIR is one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations.

Mission: AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged.

Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research Program
Analyzing state longitudinal data that allows us to follow individuals from kindergarten through elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education and into the labor market, ALDER examines how education policies affect outcomes for students and teachers. We evaluate real policies in practice and answer the perennial question asked by educators, policymakers, and the public:

“AIR uses a single student data management system for the summative, interim and formative systems. This management system, TIDE, will be populated with LEA student data beginning in August, 2013.” source: USOE

USOE State Longitudinal Data System

This is much bigger than Utah, the data sharing will be International


“AIR’s international work improves the quality of life in developing countries by using rigorous research and evaluation to enhance education and social development. With a wide variety of local partners and multinational organizations, we develop, pilot and implement field-based international development activities in lower- and middle-income countries. We provide governments and international aid agencies with the educational assessment tools and expertise they need to measure progress in student achievement and school effectiveness. Our international work is conducted by AIR’s International Development, Evaluation and Research program, as well as our Education and Health and Social Development programs.”

AIR is behind Florida’s tests as well, which our Utah students field tested items for.

Guess where Florida is field testing its new standardized tests? (Not Florida) The Washington Post

Utah Does Not Love Test It Sold To Florida Posted by Peter Greene at Friday, February 20, 2015


Even scarier than summative and interim tests is stealth assessment and daily formative assessment. Coming soon to Utah unless we speak up. 

Utah’s Poulson-Osmond Resolution opens the gate for stealth assessments


What is Florida doing?

TALLAHASSEE — “Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed a wide-ranging bill aimed at rolling back the number of tests given to public school students.  The legislation (HB 7069) was the most closely-watched education bill of the 2015 session.It puts a hold on the use of student test data for school grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion to fourth grade until the new Florida Standards Assessments can be independently validated. It also scraps a law requiring school districts to come up with end-of-course tests in classes where the state doesn’t administer such exams; caps the amount of time students can spend on state and school district tests at 45 hours a year; and reduces the portion of a teacher’s evaluation tied to student performance from the current 50 percent to one-third.”- source: BRANDON LARRABEE, The News Service of Florida 12:45 p.m. CDT April 15, 2015

What Is Montana Doing? 

“The decision this week by the head of Montana schools to allow school districts to opt out of glitch-prone Smarter Balanced exams has thrown Montana into the center of a national debate over standardized testing. …Glitches and crashes in the online tests that have affected Montana schools were beyond the state’s control, education officials have said. The SBAC testing system being used in Montana and two other states is built on an open-source version of the proprietary testing platform developed by the American Institutes for Research. 16 hours ago • DEREK BROUWER Billings Gazette

What is New York doing about testing?

155,000 New York kids boycott standardized tests

“MAHOPAC, N.Y. — Tens of thousands of parents expressed disapproval of New York’s reliance on standardized tests by having their children refuse to take the tests earlier this week.

Several districts in the New York City suburbs reported that at least 25% of students had refused to take the tests. In at least two, that number rose to 50%.

Mahopac Central School District’s interim superintendent, Brian Monahan, said 55% of his system’s middle school students and 45% of the elementary school students had refused the tests. At North Rockland Central School District in Garnerville, N.Y, 63% of middle school students refused the tests with the overall district refusal rate at 49%.” source: Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News 9:31 p.m. EDT April 16, 2015

Utah Opt Out Memos Whittle Rights


February 2nd Utah Opt Out Memo

State Superintendent Brad Smith in response to the Feb. 2, 2015 memo

Parents may opt out of testing in Utah according to Superintendent Smith. “The most important legal policy….by constitution, and by what I consider to be natural rights, parents have the right to opt out of anything! They don’t need permission. They don’t need to fill out a form. They don’t need to seek someone else’s response. And, that’s an inherent and integral right of parents.”..“Sage is one of the tests in all of its components that was unambiguously covered by the safe harbor provisions of Section1403 9a. And so that is one that unambiguously there is an opt out provision….But if there’s a question about SAGE, I believe there is unanimity and no ambiguity that SAGE is absolutely something that is subject to..the safe harbor provisions of 1403-9a.”

New Opt Out Policy

“In its April 10, 2015 meeting, the Utah State Board of Education:

-Released the draft grades 6-8 Science Standards for 90-day public review

-Approved an update to the opt-out rule for statewide assessments” source: USOE website

Please review send your comments to the Utah State Board of Education members


New Utah Board of Education Opt Out Policy
R277. Education, Administration.
R277-404. Requirements for Assessments of Student Achievement

Some notable excerpts with changes marked in red:
M. “State administered assessment[s]” means a formative, interim,
summative SAGE, Utah alternate assessment, benchmark reading assessment,
EXPLORE, PLAN [and]or the ACT.

R277-404-6. Student and Parent Participation in Student Assessments in Public Schools; Parental Exclusion from Testing and Safe Harbor Provisions. A. Parents are primarily responsible for their children’s education and have the constitutional right to determine which aspects of public education, including assessment systems, in which their children participate.[ Parental rights may be exercised without notice or permission.] Parents may further exercise their inherent rights to exempt their children from [certain]a state administered assessment[s] without further consequence by an LEA. [A]B. [All ]LEAs shall administer [the comprehensive]state administered assessments [system ]to all students unless: (1) the Utah alternat[ive]e assessment is approved for specific students consistent with federal law and as specified in a student’s IEP; or (2) [unless ]students are excused by a parent or guardian under Section 53A-15-1403(9) and as provided in this rule. C. A parent may exercise the right to exempt their child from a[ny] state administered assessment[ mandated by the Board or state statute]. Upon exercising the right to exempt a child from a state[-mandated] administered assessment under this provision, an LEA [shall]may not impose an[y] adverse consequence on a child as a result of the exercise of rights under this provision. In order to exercise the right to exempt a child from a state[-mandated testing] administered assessment under this provision and insure the protections of this 7 rovision, a parent shall annually complete [a written]the Board approved parent excuse form[ (on a form to be approved by the USOE),] a minimum of [five (5)]one (1) day[s] prior to the administration of the state administered assessment and provide the form to the responsible [LEA]school. D. School grading, teacher evaluations, and student progress reports or grades [will]may not be negatively impacted by students excused from taking a state administered assessment[s]. E. Any assessment not mandated by the Board as defined in R277-404-2M[ or state-statute], the administration of such assessments, and the consequence of taking or failing to take such assessments shall be governed by policies to be adopted by each LEA. [B]F. [An LEA educator]LEAs shall provide a student’s individual test results and scores to the student’s parent[/legal] or guardian[ consistent with FERPA] upon request and consistent with the protection of student privacy. G. An LEA may not reward a student for taking a state administered assessment.

Current Utah Parental Rights in Education Code

S.B. 122 Second Substitute Parental Rights in Public Education

S.B. 204 Second Substitute Parental Rights in Public Education Amendments

Signed and will enroll summer 2015  

216          (9) (a) At the request of a student’s parent or guardian, an LEA shall excuse a student
217     from taking an assessment that:
218          (i) is federally mandated;
219          (ii) is mandated by the state under this title; or
220          (iii) requires the use of:
221          (A) a state assessment system; or
222          (B) software that is provided or paid for by the state.
223          (b) In accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, the
224     State Board of Education shall make rules:
225          (i) to establish a statewide procedure for excusing a student under Subsection (9)(a)
226     that:
227          (A) does not place an undue burden on a parent or guardian; and
228          (B) may be completed online; and
229          (ii) to prevent negative impact, to the extent authorized by state statute, to an LEA or
230     an LEA’s employees through school grading or employee evaluations due to a student not
231     taking a test under Subsection (9)(a).
232          (c) An LEA:
233          (i) shall follow the procedures outlined in rules made by the State Board of Education
234     under Subsection (9)(b) to excuse a student under Subsection (9)(a);
235          (ii) may not require procedures to excuse a student under Subsection (9)(a) in addition
236     to the procedures outlined in rules made by the State Board of Education under Subsection
237     (9)(b); and
238          (iii) may not reward a student for taking an assessment described in Subsection (9)(a).
239          (d) The State Board of Education shall:
240          (i) maintain and publish a list of state assessments, state assessment systems, and
241     software that qualify under Subsection (9)(a); and
242          (ii) audit and verify an LEA’s compliance with the requirements of this Subsection (9).
243          (10) (a) An LEA shall provide for:
244          (i) the distribution of a copy of a school’s discipline and conduct policy to each student
245     in accordance with Section 53A-11-903; and
246          (ii) a parent’s or guardian’s signature acknowledging receipt of the school’s discipline
247     and conduct policy.
248          (b) An LEA shall notify a parent or guardian of a student’s violation of a school’s
249     discipline and conduct policy and allow a parent or guardian to respond to the notice in
250     accordance with Chapter 11, Part 9, School Discipline and Conduct Plans.

Education Committee Meeting Notes




Related Media Links

A Utah judge closed the State School Board ballot once and for all Friday, denying three candidates’ efforts to renew their candidacy. U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups rejected Davis County resident Heather Gardner’s request that she and 40

Decision process for State School Board leaves many out The Davis Clipper

Utah School Violates Law, Forces Students to Take Exams Against Parent’s Wishes Libertas Institute

Assistant Attorney General Further Restricts Parental Rights in Utah Libertas Institute

Opting out of tests UACC-Oak Norton

Education News Roundup: Feb. 9, 2015

Confusion abounds on Utah school test opt-out rules Ogden Standard Examiner

Bill clarifies law allowing parents to opt children out of school testing Deseret News

Opting Kids Out of Testing is a Battle!  Kate Dalley Show

Kate And Thomas Visit With Heather Gardner On Common Core audio

SB204: Making More Explicit a Parent’s Right to Opt a Child out of Testing Libertas Institute

Utah Mother Defends Parental Rights

Heather Gardner Interview: Parental Rights in Education  Kate Dalley Show


HB342: Amendments to State School Board Election Process UEA Report on the 2015 Utah Legislature General Session

Lawmakers narrow selection of school board election bills Deseret News

Committee OKs $13.5M bill for teacher salary increases Deseret News

Committee approves bill clarifying parents’ right to opt students out of testing Salt Lake Tribune

Educators meet with state leaders, offer evaluation of Common Core standards Fox 13 News

Lawmakers, educators consider consequences of opting children out of testing KSL

Locally Directed Education group talks SAGE

Concerned mothers speak to public about SAGE


Supreme Court Cases that Uphold Parental Rights

It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. . . . It is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter. – Prince v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944)

The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition. -(Yoder, 1972)


Read  and Watch More

U.S. Supreme Court: Parents’ Rights Are Fundamental Ocean Network.org

The Supreme Court’s Parental Rights Doctrine ParentalRights.Org

Parents Against the Common Core videos

What are my parental rights? by Morgan Olsen

Dr. Gary Thompson Common Core Presentation Idaho Falls November 2014

Data Mining In Common Core – TheBlazeTV – The Glenn Beck Program

Big Ocean Women

Letter to Obama signed by numerous authors including Maya Angelou


Upcoming Events

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UACC Symposium – Empowering Parents – May 13

“Come join Joy Pullmann from the Federalist (and formerly of the Heritage Foundation), Rod Arquette, Senator Al Jackson and his wife Juleen, and many others speaking on empowering parents. Also, come to a special showing of Tim Ballard’s documentary, The Abolitionist.”

I will be teaching a workshop…



Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
9:00-10:00 Common Core 101 –
Jenny Baker
The Next Frontiers: Data Collection from Birth to Death—
Joy Pullman
Principles of the Constitution-
Stacey Thornton
Laureen Simper
10:00-11:00 DATA-
Big Ocean Women
The Difference between Progressive and Effective Education –
Joy Pullman
Parental Rights-
Heather Gardner
11:00-12:00 Will national Science standards be coming to Utah?
Vince Newmeyer
SAGE Testing- Should I Opt-Out?
Wendy Hart
Getting Involved & Making a Difference- Jared Carmen


Cost to Participants- $5.00 to attend all of the workshops

9:00-12:00 UVU Classrooms in the Sorensen Student Center


Sign the Return to Parental Rights Proclamation

-Opt out or refuse the tests

-Do not sign into the SAGE practice portal or participate in SAGE formative assignments, interim or summative assessments

-Learn about stealth assessment

-Attend your local and State School Board meetings

-Elect officials based on their bill voting records. Follow education legislation

– Attend interim and in session education committee meetings on Capitol Hill

-Remember that your parental rights and your students’ rights are inherent.

Learn about them, uphold them, use them.

Defend Liberty. Defend the family.

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