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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 19, 2017 02:45 PM
From: Representative Kathy L. Rapp
To: All House members
Subject: Expanding Parental Opt-Outs for State Assessments
I plan to introduce legislation to expand options for parents and guardians to have their children excused from state assessments.

We in the General Assembly, for many years, have heard and seen the frustration and concerns of parents about the extent to which their children are being forced to submit to statewide assessments, such as the PSSAs and the Keystone Exams. Many parents object to allowing their children to sit for these assessments because of the stress and anxiety they cause. Others may disagree with the practice of standardized assessments for philosophical reasons, for example, because it takes time away from in-the-classroom instruction. In Pennsylvania, however, current regulation significantly limits the ability of parents to opt-out their children from state assessments. Specifically, these regulations only permit parents and guardians to have their children excused from state assessments when a parent or guardian has inspected the state assessment in question and has determined that it conflicts with is or her religious belief. I believe that this exception is much too narrow and that parents and guardians should be able to object to such assessments on other grounds.

In response to these concerns expressed by parents, my legislation will allow parents or guardians to submit a written request to their school to excuse their children from an assessment based upon a parent or guardian's objection on religious or philosophical grounds or due to health concerns for the student, which may include stress or anxiety in preparation for the assessment. This legislation further stipulates that a parent or guardian's written request to school officials to have a child excused from state assessments shall be granted. Finally, this legislation will ensure that no public school will be penalized because of a parent or guardian's exercise of this provision.

Parents and guardians should have the right to determine whether their children will take state assessments, regardless of whether their objections be religious or philosophical. Please consider joining me in providing additional options to parents to determine the best education for their children by cosponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1404