Home School Court Report
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Vol. XXV
No. 5
Cover
September/October
2009

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SOUTH DAKOTA

Rapid City Creates Confusion over Computer Literacy Test

Anxious member families have been calling Home School Legal Defense Association for help in facing what appears to be a new testing mandate.

Rapid City Schools Office of Alternative Education recently sent a letter to homeschooling families announcing, “[Eighth] grade students will be taking the South Dakota State 8th Grade Technology Assessment (SDTLA) … as required by program guidance under No Child Left Behind. States are to be sure that all 8th [grade] students are technologically literate by the end of the eighth grade.”

This sounds like a mandate, especially considering the context: a letter to homeschooling families from the office that deals with homeschooling families. Furthermore, some families were told, in personal conversations with school officials, that homeschoolers needed to take the test.

To set the record straight, homeschooled students are not required by any state or federal law to take the SDTLA. Any statements to the contrary are misinformation.

At the end of the letter, the author states that parents should call him “should [they] desire” their student to take the test. While this statement makes the testing sound optional, it does not counteract the mandatory language of the first paragraph. It only creates confusion.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Scott Woodruff contacted the director of the office of alternative education asking him to send out a follow-up letter explaining unequivocally that the SDTLA is not mandatory for homeschooling families. The director apologized for the confusion.

HSLDA recommends to our member families that they not have their students take the SDTLA. Parents’ wishes as to how their students’ test results are used might not be honored.

In 2000, HSLDA was successful in inserting language into federal law protecting homeschoolers from the tests that are mandated under No Child Left Behind. However, if homeschoolers now voluntarily submit to the tests, including the SDTLA, it could provide ammunition for those who might want to make the test mandatory for homeschoolers.

By staying away from tests that are mandatory for public school students, your family can help protect homeschool freedom.

— by Scott A. Woodruff