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Senate Bill 39: Improving Standardized Testing Requirements for Homeschoolers
The Committee on Education at the request of the Department of Education and Cultural Affairs.
South Dakota homeschoolers are required to take standardized tests in each grade level in which the state requires standardized testing for public school students. (South Dakota Codified Laws §13-27-3.) Senate Bill 39 would amend this statute to specify certain grades for homeschool testing.
SB 39 was first read in Senate on January 14, 2003 and referred to the Senate Education Committee on January 23. The committee passed the bill, as did the full Senate on January 27. Now SB 39 goes on the House. The Governor signed it on March 8, 2003.
HSLDA believes this bill should have been amended to eliminate the second grade testing requirement for homeschoolers.
Up until this year, South Dakota law has required homeschool students to be tested in each grade that public school students are tested under the "statewide testing program" established by South Dakota law. This year, in an effort to bring South Dakota into compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the South Dakota Department of Education and Cultural Affairs has asked for changes to the testing requirements. Senate Bill 39, as originally written, would have added four more years of required testing. This would have meant that homeschoolers, like all other students in the state, would have to undergo these additional tests. HSLDA objected, and Senator Olson, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, graciously amended Senate Bill 39 to separate homeschool testing from the rest of the "statewide testing program."
This is a very important change, which HSLDA wholeheartedly approves. Although we are grateful to Senator Olson for separating homeschool testing from the federally mandated statewide testing program, we believe that Senate Bill 39 can still be improved. Since 1997, homeschoolers have been required to test in the second grade, because public school students were tested at that grade level. To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever argued that second grade testing actually helps homeschoolers in any way. Our contacts at the Department of Education and Cultural Affairs do not particularly desire second grade testing for homeschoolers. It is an expensive and unnecessary "leftover" from the old "statewide testing program" days. To the best of our knowledge, the only people who want second grade testing for homeschoolers are people who would vote for any and all restrictions on home education (including the outright prohibition of education at home). Those educators who recognize homeschooling as a valid option do not suggest that testing in second grade is an important requirement.
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