Monday, September 26, 2011

NUT Report: New standardized health and sex education test heads to Washington D.C. and South Carolina

The No Unnecessary Testing or NUT Report is written by Sandra.

“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


  1. Private comment received:

    Parents should be demanding an opt-out for standardized testing; in addition, parents should also demand any testing and/or teaching done in sex education and/or moral matters have active consent for such testing, rather than passive consent. Parents must give written consent EACH time such a test is administered.

    South Carolina parents should also ask the state: how is such a test on sexual education going to make our students more STEM ready? What does this have to do with academic achievement? Why is the CCSSO formulating tests for asking students on proper behavior traditionally reserved for religious organizations and parents?

    It would be helpful to have a copy of the entire test to determine the breadth of questions and if they become intrusive on personal religious or moral beliefs. Schools are to be institutions of academic learning. These tests serve the social service agencies' purposes now under some school roofs (HHS providing medical/social services) but again, how is this helping our students to become 'globally competitive' in academics?

    The schools have our students for 8 hours a day, allegedly teaching them skills to obtain meaningful employment. Schools are not medical clinics or therapist offices. Parents should review the curriculum to determine what their children are learning. Character Education taught in school begs the question, whose idea of character is the school teaching? Example: "If Susie has two mommies" and that's on the reading list for diversity purposes and your child is tested on views of homosexuality, how is your child expected to answer? Whether or not you agree with homosexuality, parents KNOW what the "correct" answer is according to the curriculum. If YOU are teaching your child a different answer, and your child answers in the way he/she has been taught by the family, you might get ready for a visit from the school because your child flunked the diversity part of the test.

  2. Private comment received:

    Let's go back to Nancy Reagan's mantra: "Just Say No." Don't put your child through a social experiment set up by a private company using tax dollars to track children. It's insidious and does not help your child academically. This type of testing has no place in schools and you should refuse to have your child participate in such a test. Shame on South Carolina. Rather than focusing on what children know about sexuality (which used to be sacred rather than primarily a physical act), I'd rather the tests focus on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, understanding the difference between a republic and a democracy so this egregious trampling on the civil rights of parents, taxpayers and students never happens again.

  3. Well said, especially since this comes at a time when some districts are, for all practical purposes promoting homosexuality and punishing students and teachers that disapprove.

  4. @Grumpyelder - To clarify, South Carolina law forbids discussion of homosexuality as part of its health and sexual education curriculum as I interpret their legislation.