Delaware State Testing Starts as "Opt Out" Debate Continues - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware State Testing Starts as "Opt Out" Debate Continues

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FELTON, Del. (WBOC) - Are you in or out?

The debate over opting out of standardized tests continues in Delaware, as testing is getting underway at some schools.

This year, Delaware switched from the old DCAS test to the new, Smarter Balanced Assessment for math and language arts. That change has some parents concerned. And a small but growing number of parents is considering opting their kids out of the tests.

These are the tests schools, states and the federal government use to gauge how kids are doing. Across the country, people are wondering whether opting out should be an option for them.

Alex Hernandez is a fifth grader at Lake Forest Central Elementary. His class was doing a practice performance task for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Wednesday morning.

"We were doing, like, adding fractions, area models, simplifying fractions," Alex said.

Down the hall from his class, actual testing kicked off for some children.

"The students in our fifth grade wing were starting the computer portion of the Smarter Balanced Assessment," said Melissa Dalgewicz, the school's testing coordinator.

She said because the test is new, it does not count for students this year. It is effectively a practice run for schools and students.

Still, Dalgewicz said there have been a handful of inquiries about opting out.

"Some of the parents had some concerns about where the testing was heading and inquired about opting their child out of the testing."

Erin Hollar is seriously considering opting her Lake Forest third grader and sixth grader out. She really likes the district but says there is too much focus on testing.

"Them not taking the test is not going to change the way that they're taught," Hollar said. "But hopefully, if enough people stand up and do it, it will move toward that direction."

In another part of Kent County, the Capital School District Board of Education back in the fall came out in support of giving people the opt out option. Its resolution supported, "a parent's decision for their child to opt out of standardized state testing without an repercussions from Capital School District."

While opt out is a small movement right now, Dalgewicz said there could be broader effects if at some point too many kids opted out.

"That's going to affect our participation and our scores," she said.

It is unclear if Delaware parents actually can opt children out of the tests. State Senate aides tell WBOC state law does not say parents can't, but it also doesn't say they can. A bill will be introduced later this month formally allowing opt out as an option.

Gov. Jack Markell will make an announcement related to the opt out issue Thursday morning at William Penn High School in New Castle.

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