March 1, 2005

House Bill 1770: A Bill Relating to Testing for Students Receiving Home Instruction

Representative James H. Dillard, II

This bill was initially introduced as a bill that would have given the Department of Education the authority to keep a list of achievement tests, evaluations and assessments that satisfy the requirement that homeschoolers provide an annual educational assessment. It passed the House with this dangerous language included in the final version.

HSLDA worked to amend HB 1770 in the Senate Education Committee to allow "any nationally normed standardized achievement test" to satisfy the testing requirement. The full Senate passed the bill with this excellent language included.

The bill returned to the House because the Senate version and House version were different. The House refused to accept the bill as amended by the Senate.

The Senate stood firm and rejected the harmful House version of the bill. This resulted in the bill going to a Conference Committee.

The Conference Committee approved the harmful House version of the bill, and rejected the good Senate amendment. Since the bill could no longer be amended, HSLDA and homeschoolers in Virginia had no choice but to oppose the bill as it was brought before both houses for a final vote.

On February 25, the House of Delegates reversed itself and voted against the harmful version of HB 1770 by a vote of 34 yeas and 64 nays. Even though the Senate voted to accept the harmful version of the bill by a vote of 29 yeas and 11 nays, HB 1770 will not become law because of the House of Delegate's action.

While we are disappointed that testing freedom legislation did not pass this session, we are encouraged by the mobilization and participation of homeschoolers in the process. Your calls stopped legislation that would have given the State Department of Education the power to control which tests you use.

01/03/2005(House): Introduced, and referred to Committee on Education
01/19/2005(House): Reported from Education (22-Y, 0-N)
01/24/2005(House): Passed (98 Y, 0 N) and communicated to the Senate. This was the House bill with the dangerous language.
01/25/2005(Senate): Referred to Committee on Education and Health.
02/10/2005(Senate): Reported From Education and Health Committee with HSLDA's amendment (15-Y, 0-N).
02/14/2005(Senate): Passed Senate with HSLDA's amendment (40-Y, 0-N).
02/15/2005(House): Placed on Calendar.
02/16/2005(House): House voted to reject the Senate version with HSLDA's amendment (5-Y, 93 -N).
02/18/2005(Senate): Scheduled for vote. Senate voted for conference committee (38-Y, 0-N).
02/24/2005(Conference Committee): Approved House version of the bill with harmful language (5-Y, 1-N).
02/25/2005(House): House voted to reject the conference report (34-Y, 64-N), thus killing the bill.

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:
No more action is necessary.

Fewer than half the states require any testing. Of those that do, many already give parents freedom to use any nationally standardized achievement test, including New Hampshire, Colorado, South Dakota, North Carolina, Florida, and Hawaii. These states have not experienced any problems related to parents having the freedom to choose.

We understand that the bill's sponsor, Delegate Dillard, may have opposed the Senate amendment because he believed it was ambiguous. This is contradicted by the experience in the states listed below. They have had no problems with ambiguity. The language of the Senate amendment is almost identical to language used in these states:

  1. 1. New Hampshire: any national student achievement test...
  2. 2. Colorado: a nationally standardized achievement test....
  3. 3. South Dakota: a nationally standardized achievement test of the basic skills.
  4. 4. North Carolina: a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measurement.
  5. 5. Florida: any nationally normed student achievement test...
  6. 6. Hawaii: a nationally normed standardized achievement test...

 Other Resources

Mar-3-2005 — Virginia--Year End Testing Recommendations for HSLDA Members

Feb-25-2005 — Virginia--Homeschool Testing Freedom Protected

Feb-23-2005 — Virginia--Please Call Immediately - Testing Freedom in Hands of Conference Committee

Feb-18-2005 — Virginia--Calls Needed Urgently Monday Morning--Testing Freedom in Hands of Conference Committee

Feb-17-2005 — Virginia--Calls Needed Urgently--Testing Freedom In Jeopardy

Feb-16-2005 — Virginia--Please Call Immediately!--Testing Freedom Bill Set for Crucial Vote Today

Feb-14-2005 — Virginia--Senate Unanimously Approves Testing Freedom Bill

Feb-11-2005 — Virginia--Calls Needed - House Bill 1770: Possible Vote this Monday on Testing Freedom Bill

Feb-10-2005 — Virginia--Victory for Testing Freedom for Homeschoolers

Bill Text

Bill History