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1/28/2003 2:26:24 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
South Dakota--Bill May End Testing For Second Grade Homeschoolers

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 28, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

South Dakota homeschoolers are required to take standardized tests in
each grade level in which the state requires standardized testing for
public school students. Senate Bill 39 would amend this law to
specify certain grades for homeschool testing.

We assume Senate Bill 39 will pass the Senate and move to the House.
At that point, the House Education Committee will have an opportunity
to consider it as written. This is our chance to ask the House
Education Committee members to eliminate second grade testing. We
therefore urge all homeschoolers and unaccredited private school
families to contact the House Education Committee to respectfully
request an amendment to Senate Bill 39.

REQUESTED ACTION

1. Contact the Chairman of the House Education Committee, Phyllis
Heineman, to ask her to amend S.B. 39 to end second grade testing for
homeschoolers. She can be reached at 605-224-6877 (Representative
Heineman 's room at the Ramkota in Pierre). Email can be sent to
rep.heineman@state.sd.us, and letters mailed to her as well at her
Capital address: Representative Phyllis Heineman, Ramkota Inn,
Pierre, South Dakota 57501.

2. Please write to each member of the House Education Committee at
the Ramkota Inn, Pierre, South Dakota 57501. Give them the same
message. The Committee members are:

Begalka, Tim
Bradford, Jim
Buckingham, Mike
Dykstra, Joel D.
Elliott, Burt
Haverly, Jeffrey K.
Heineman, Phyllis M., Chair
Juhnke, Kent , Vice-Chair
LaRue, Maurice
McCaulley, Matt
McCoy, Alice
McLaughlin, Ed
Schafer, Donna

3. Please pass this email on to other homeschoolers in South Dakota
and friends of home education. Feel free to email and distribute it
to families without access to the Internet.

BACKGROUND

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 an 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.

If homeschoolers work together, we can make home education a little
easier for parents in South Dakota.

Sincerely,

Scott W. Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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