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N.J. Parents Ask State Board to Develop Opt-Out Rules

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Five New Jersey residents, including two parents, filed a request with the State Board of Education to adopt a formal statewide test-refusal process.

According to a story by NJ Advance Media, the request also asks that school districts give students who opt out of standardized testing, including the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College or Careers, an alternative learning environment. In addition, the state board is being asked to ensure that students are not punished or rewarded based on their decision to take standardized tests. The State Board is seeking legal advice and will consider the petitioners' request, which appeared in the State Register this week.

"There are so many children in other districts around the state where superintendents or individual principals are taking a really nasty approach [to handle test-refusal requests]," Tova Felder, one of the five petitioners, said in the story. Felder is a teacher and the mother of a 10-year-old.

While New Jersey's General Assembly passed opt-out legislation in March that would set uniform test-refusal guidelines for parents and educators, State Board President Mark Biedron told NJ Advance Media that requesting a rule from the state board is a faster process. (The state Senate's education committee has not considered the General Assembly's bill.)

Still, Biedron said in the story that adopting test-refusal rules may prove challenging for the state board since federal law requires states to administer tests to its students.

According to a report issued by the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, California and Utah are the only two states in the nation where state law allows parents to opt their children out of state assessments. As the opt-out movement gains momentum, the lack of a cohesive test-refusal process in most states has frustrated and confused some parents. 

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