“Teaching to the test for health, too?” asked Nakisha Winston, head of the PTA at Langdon Education Campus in Northeast Washington D.C.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Washington D.C. school students will be the first to take a new health standardized assessment to measure what they know about "human sexuality, contraception and drug use" as well as nutrition and mental health. Students will take this 50 question health and sex education assessment in addition to "reading and math (grades 3 through 8 and 10), composition (4, 7, 10), science (grade 5) and biology (grade 10)" in April 2012.
The test was developed by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education based upon sample questions "devised by" the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
The Washington Post reported that parents want to know more about the test and expressed concerns about more testing requirements. D.C. school officials say the test is in response to legislation; however, the bill sponsor said the legislation required only an annual report and not the creation of another standardized assessment. Officials recognize that parents may have differing opinions on this initiative.
In an updated Washington Post report, D.C. officials clarified that assessment results will only serve to report percentage of questions answered correctly and will not provide individual scores, nor affect teacher evaluations.
According to the CCSSO Health Education Assessment Project (HEAP) website, South Carolina "utilized the item bank, collaborative editing and online testing capabilities, to develop and field-test several assessment forms at the elementary, middle and high school grade levels in preparation for a statewide health assessment." Searches reveal zero South Carolina media coverage on this topic. The Washington Post article points to the CCSSO website as the reference for the information.
The test bank of questions can be reviewed at the HEAP website.
Take a brief pop quiz of questions taken from the test bank here.
The CCSSO website is not likely a place where parents will visit to get information on their state's initiatives.
- Are South Carolina parents, community members, and taxpayers in the dark as to the priority, legislative requirements, and costs related to this additional test?
- Will South Carolina parents be advised and have a right to opt out during field and final implementation in accordance with SECTION 59-32-50. S.C. Code of Laws Title 59 Chapter 32 or will the absence of the word assessment lead to enforcement of taking the assessment?
- Will compliance-only prevail for parents who object to sexual education assessments for personal reasons?
Currently, South Carolina has no legislation that allows parental right to opt-out of any standardized tests. This apparent legislative vacuum has led to compliance-only enforcement, including for students who have complex medical conditions. S.C. education officials second-guess doctor's recommendations that students not be tested to protect their health and well-being.
Parents will be protesting on the steps of the South Carolina Senate Building on October 3. Perhaps South Carolina legislators will break their silence, explain their position on parental rights, and have something to say about this new test to parents then.
UPDATE: Date change for parent protest. New date is Saturday, October 8 at 10 AM.
Previous posts related to South Carolina parent opposition to excessive testing:
The State Op-Ed: South Carolina parent asks why students cannot opt out of high stakes assessment
South Carolina parents to protest high stakes assessment
A letter from a 12 year old---
Bringing Parent Opposition and Resistance Out of the Shadows
South Carolina Parents Challenge Standardized Testing
NUT Report: No parent involvement wanted