Governor Hassan has vetoed HB 603 which would allow parents to opt students out of the annual statewide assessment without penalty. Her veto message emphasized the importance of full participation for legal, accountability, and funding reasons, stating that the federally mandated assessments are required for many federal education grants and are also necessary for informing teacher instruction:
Allowing this bill to become law also poses significant fiscal risk by threatening tens of millions of dollars a year in federal funding to our schools. The federal government requires 95 percent of students to participate in a statewide assessment to receive Title I funding. Action in some New Hampshire school districts that provided an unofficial opt-out option this year led to decreased student participation – demonstrating that any state action to encourage opt-out would have the same, if not greater implications. House Bill 603 does not provide reporting of opt-outs to the Department of Education, so we would be unable to accurately determine how many students did not take the test and whether the State met the 95-percent student participation threshold.
House Bill 603 sets a bad precedent for, and sends a bad message to, our students. Students who are told that they can opt out of this critical component to their education will believe that they can opt out of other of requirements as well, which could in turn affect participation in day-to-day activities and interfere with both student assessment and direct instruction.
If passed, this bill would inhibit the ability to effectively measure student progress and inform teacher instruction, while sending a message to the business and education communities that New Hampshire does not value high standards in education, standards that will help prepare our future workforce for success in the innovation economy.
She also mentioned the state’s efforts regarding innovative testing alternatives including the pilot PACE program, which reduces the number of standardized tests required of students.
Read the Governor’s full statement here.