May 25, 2005

Schools Misunderstand Testing Requirements

This year, schools in Kane'ohe, Honolulu, and Pearl City have sent letters to homeschool families insisting that they are required to test their children in grades 3-8 and 10. One school even stated that if parents want to provide a written evaluation for their annual progress report, they would have to obtain the consent of the principal.

After being notified of the letters by member families, Home School Legal Defense Association Attorney Thomas Schmidt contacted each school and informed them that parents are only required to test their children in grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. In these grades parents may elect to have their children participate in the Statewide Testing Program at the local public school or have them take a comparable criterion or norm-referenced achievement test.

While parents can choose to test their child every year to meet the annual progress reporting requirement, they are not required to do so. If their child is not in the required testing grades then they may submit a written evaluation describing the child's progress in each subject area and representative samples of his work, tests, and assignments. A written evaluation by a Hawaii certified teacher is also acceptable.

Schmidt also wrote to the school principal who had insisted that parents who did not use the Statewide Testing Program would have to obtain her consent to have any other test administered to their child. State law permits parents to choose a test without requesting the consent of the principal. The only time the consent of the principal is required is when a parent seeks to use an evaluation method other than a criterion or norm-referenced achievement test.

Homeschoolers must remain vigilant to ensure the rights of parents to teach their children are not infringed.