March 14, 2003

Senate Bill 311: Allowing for the Testing of Homeschoolers

Sloppy language the Oklahoma Senate Education Committee added to Senate Bill 311 has changed a harmless bill to one that now threatens homeschoolers.

The bill, as amended, allows a "request" that a criterion-referenced test of the Oklahoma State Testing Program be administered to a homeschooler. The bill does not clearly specify, however, who can make the request. A misguided judge could rule that it allows a public school official to make the request.

The bill empowers the State Board of Education, for the first time, to adopt rules affecting homeschoolers. It may lead the Board to believe that it should be allowed to adopt rules that affect other aspects of home education.

This bill is now dead.

As originally filed, SB 311 did not refer to homeschooling. The Senate Education Committee amended it, however, so that now it gives the State Board of Education power to " . . . adopt rules for the administration of the criterion-referenced tests upon request at private schools and for students educated by means other than the public or private schools . . ."

The bill does not clearly limit who can make this "request." Prior to the committee's amendment, SB 311 stated clearly that a PRIVATE SCHOOL must make a request before it could be administered to their students.

The criterion-referenced test is part of the Oklahoma School Testing Program. It is scored based on the student's knowledge of material covered in the public school curriculum. The questions on the test are under the control of the State Board of Education, part of the government education bureaucracy.

Homeschoolers do not follow the public school curriculum. They are free to teach a curriculum best suited to each individual child. Homeschoolers have neither the need nor the desire to submit their children to a test that covers the content taught in public schools.

 Other Resources

3/17/2003 - Oklahoma--Senate Bill 311 Defeated

3/13/2003 - Oklahoma--Urgent Calls Needed on New Testing Bill