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South Dakota

March 5, 2010
Newell School District Drops Demand for Pre-Approval of Tests

The Newell school district recently sent a letter to homeschool families inviting them to participate in the testing available through the public schools. But the letter included the following statement from the state Director of Assessment for the Department of Education: “Home School students need to take the SAT 10 … If you choose not to use the Stanford 10, you need to have it approved by me.”

An alert member of HSLDA forwarded this to us, concerned that homeschool testing options might be threatened. We reassured them that nothing had changed.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff called the Director of Assessment and explained that her statement was inconsistent with state law. He explained that homeschool students are not required to take the SAT 10, but are allowed to take any nationally standardized achievement test. He explained that families are not required to get state approval before picking a nationally standardized test.

The director quickly acknowledged that Woodruff was correct. She explained that she had worked with several families who had submitted year-end tests that actually were not nationally standardized tests. They encountered difficulty because the students were required to retake a different test. She was trying to prevent similar problems from happening again.

Woodruff gave the director some suggestions about how she could accurately explain the issue to families while not seeming to make demands outside of her legal authority. We are hopeful that future statements from the director will provide helpful clarity while remaining within the bounds of the law.