ESSA Assessment Committee discusses transparency through opt-out forms for parents, testing calendar

ESSA Assessment Committee discusses transparency through opt-out forms for parents, testing calendar


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Assessment Committee met Tuesday, September 27, at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) office in Roseville to review two pieces: draft(s) of parent opt-out forms and testing calendars. Under ESSA and 2016 state legislation, school districts are now required to disclose a testing calendar and an opt-out form to parents and guardians as it relates to state or locally required standardized tests.

The first part of the meeting focused on reviewing a draft of a document to enhance testing transparency and parental and/or guardian options for state and local assessments.

In 2014, the Legislature amended 120B.31 to require the Commissioner of Education to create and publish a form for parents and guardians to complete if they refuse to have their student participate in state or locally required standardized tests. The form is required to state the reason there are state academic standards, indicate which tests are aligned with state standards and what consequences, if any, the school or student may face if a student does not participate in a state or locally required standardized testing. The form also requires the parent to indicate the reason for their refusal. This form is effective for the 2016-17 school year.

The federal law requires at the beginning of each school year, a school district that receives funds under this part to notify parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under the law that the parents may request, and the school district must provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any state or school district regarding student participation in any assessments mandated under section 1111 (b)(2) and by the state or school district which shall include a policy, procedure or parental right to opt the child out of each assessment, where applicable.

The second part of the meeting focused on a second piece related to testing transparency. In 2016, state legislation and the ESSA included requirements for a comprehensive testing calendar that includes more additional components than have been required in the past.

M.S. 120B.301 requires a school district or, charter school, before the first day of each school, to publish on its website a comprehensive calendar of standardized tests to be administered in the district or charter school during that school year. The calendar also must provide the rationale for administering each assessment

In addition, legislation requires this calendar to be posted before the first day of the school year, beginning in 2016-17. Various subgroups reviewed models from the Albert Lea Area, Eden Prairie, St. Cloud Area and ROCORI school districts to determine what they liked and did not like about each.

While no definitive recommendation came from the Assessment Committee, one of the big takeaways was that most of the individuals believed that MDE should develop the uniform opt-out form that would be available for districts to share with their parents. The opposite was true when discussing the testing calendar disclosure, in large part due to the fact that not all districts use the same local assessments.

The next ESSA Assessment Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 5. The topic of discussion at this meeting will be to review the requirements around the Alternate Assessment participation cap.

Visit for more information about this committee.

Learn more about ESSA on MSBA’s website at




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