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May / June 2005

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More testing confusion

For the second year in a row, the Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District (ESD) has demonstrated its failure to understand or follow the testing requirements for Oregon homeschoolers. A Home School Legal Defense Association member family in the Corvallis area recently received a letter regarding their child's testing schedule. Realizing that the letter contained information contrary to state law, the family contacted HSLDA.

The ESD's letter accurately stated that under Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 581-021-0026, testing is required for homeschool students in grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. However, the letter went on to state that a homeschool student "may not test early." This is incorrect.

Under OAR 581-0021-0026(6), "The first year [grade 1] is defined as when the child is seven on September 1, or earlier at the parent's discretion" (emphasis added). Parents in Oregon can define their child's first year-the equivalent of 1st grade-as being before (but not after) the year that the child is 7 on September 1. Therefore, parents who place their child in grade 1 before he turns 7 could elect to test their child early as well.

As a practical matter, if a family decides to start their child's 1st grade education before age 7, they may need to correct their ESD's assigned grade level and/or test schedule. Once you choose when your child began his first year/grade, you must ensure that he subsequently tests in the required years/grades.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas J. Schmidt informed the Linn Benton Lincoln ESD that because Oregon law permits parents to assign their student to a higher grade level, the family in question would test their child in accordance with their decision that he was in his "third year" of their homeschool program.

Should you have any difficulties with your ESD regarding testing, please don't hesitate to contact us.

—by Thomas J. Schmidt