ALERT! SF 1475 Time is Short. MAKE CALLS Today and Tomorrow!


SLP Teacher testifies on SF 1475

St. Louis Park teacher testifies in opposition to SF 1475

ALERT!  Make your calls and emails now concerning Senate File 1475.  We have until Friday morning at 9:00am when the hearing will take place for possible passage. The bill has already passed one committee late last week.   Tell the Senators to vote “NO” on SF 1475 if parental rights and local control are important to you.


CALL NOW:  Senator Eric Pratt  651-296-4123




        Senator Gary Dahms  651-296-8138


                       Senator Roger Chamberlain 651-296-1253




                        Senator Carla Nelson 651-296-4848




Senate File 1475 pushes further the embedding of Common Core system-wide tests into our schools.  The MCA Standardized Test is the FEDERAL Common Core test meant to measure system-level accountability. Call it a “state test” if you must, but we are cognizant that these are the federally-mandated tests. These scores have nothing to do with student achievement. The MDE themselves have stated over and over that the MCAs are not to be used for student achievement.


For four years, MACC’s primary themes have revolved around parental rights and local control.  Here are a few important points.


1.      Minnesota has witnessed a considerable decrease in parental rights and local control since MACC began studying the Common Core initiative system of standards, curriculum, testing, data collection and workforce development.  Our standards have been rewritten to federal in every subject area.


2.      SF 1475 will remove parent’s last little bit of freedom in guiding their children’s education within the Common Core system.  The MCAs are the federally-mandated Common Core tests that measure system-level accountability and does not measure individual student achievement.  The MCAs measure our compliancy with Common Core Standards.


3.      Although opting out remains an option for every family, by financial incentivizing MCA testing within the basic formula, districts and teachers will have no choice but to push for a higher percentage of test-takers.  The MCAs take up a considerable amount of time with prep testing and curricular prepping, promoting a system of standards that most parents do not support.


4.      Local control has become more dictatorial among superintendents and school boards.  SF 1475 gives more dictatorial control to school districts and their “stakeholders” by dismissing parents and incorporating a “carrot and stick” approach.


5.      By furthering a federally-led education curriculum, the intent brings into question our State Constitution, and it’s requirement of a locally-developed curriculum.


Frustratingly, parents feel that they have little voice in their school districts and at school board meetings.  Of course, this fact does not deter parents.  SF 1475 will continue to erode that freedom we now enjoy by causing undo pressure from the disticts to onto the parents mandating that their children take the MCAs or the district will loose much-need funding. 


What can we do?  How can we amend this bill?  In reading the ESSA Rules ourselves, we can see easily that each state may adopt their own state plan. We have been handed a golden opportunity to create our own plan.  Let’s make the most of it!  Let’s take a look at what the ESSA has to say to states and subsequently, compare how Minnesota is considering implementing the MCA testing into our state law.  I believe you’ll see that that Minnesota has decided to go more “stringent” than the ESSA requires via the letter and intent of the law.  Thanks to FairTest for pulling out the pertinent test and opt out language in ESSA.


Federal Law on Opting Out Under ESSA:


The U.S. Congress has canceled Department of Education (DoE) regulations regarding accountability.  MACC reported on this cancellation last week.  This includes regulations that would have governed test participation, the requirement to test 95% of all students, and federally mandated accountability consequences. As a result, states must turn to the language of the law itself, at least until the DoE provides new regulatory language. States may impose more stringent requirements than does ESSA.


Language on testing and accountability:


1003(b)(2) is the section (‘paragraph’) requiring testing.


1003(c) is the section on accountability. Within that:


‘‘(E) ANNUAL MEASUREMENT OF ACHIEVEMENT.—(i) Annually measure the achievement of not less than 95 percent of all students, and 95 percent of all students in each subgroup of students, who are enrolled in public schools on the assessments described under subsection (b)(2)(v)(I).


‘‘(ii) For the purpose of measuring, calculating, and reporting on the indicator described in subparagraph (B)(i) [FT: the statewide test indicator], include in the denominator the greater of—


‘‘(I) 95 percent of all such students, or 95 percent of all such students in the subgroup, as the case may be; or


‘‘(II) the number of students participating in the assessments.


‘‘(iii) Provide a clear and understandable explanation of how the State will factor the requirement of clause (i) of this subparagraph into the statewide accountability system.”


Language on opting out:




“Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent to not have the parent’s child participate in the academic assessments under this paragraph.”






“(A) IN GENERAL.—At the beginning of each school year, a local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall notify the parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under this part that the parents may request, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or parental right to opt the child out of such assessment, where applicable.”


On March 13, DoE issued a “template” for states to submit their ESSA plans. It asks states, “Describe how the State factors the requirement for 95 percent student participation in statewide mathematics and reading/language arts assessments into the statewide accountability system.”


The ESSA law shows us more clearly:


1.       While states must administer statewide assessments/tests, nothing in federal law requires students to take them.


2.      ESSA contains no requirement that states punish schools or districts which have high rates of refusal.


3.      “States have to take into account what happens to a school if the individual school fails to meet the 95 percent participation requirement within the state accountability system. But this can be very flexible. A state could choose a variety of outcomes—including that test participation has no impact on a school’s identification (emphasis added):… It is up to the state.”


4.      Min  “A state can, as required, report test participation rates using at least 95% of all eligible students as the denominator. It can then use only the scores of those who take the test in calculating test-based accountability indicators (proficiency scores, growth scores, ELL language proficiency test scores). This would enable states to report average scores with the denominator of at least 95%, to not include scores of refusers in identifying “low performing” schools, and to take no specific steps against schools with lower test participation rates. A state can also separately publish results from only students who took the test (denominator is number of test takers) and report the number of students who did not take the test.”


5.      “Under current federal laws and regulations, low participation by itself does should not lead to a school being declared low performing. States should not punish schools or districts because of parent actions in order to forestall federal “requirements” that do not exist.”


Now how does our prefaced Minnesota SF 1475 bill set up our state plan?  The language of SF 1475 states,


Senate File 1475 is coding a new law 120B.361 into existence.  The introduction of the bill tells the story.  A bill for an act relating to education; creating financial incentives for school districts to help students and families understand state standards and encourage MCA and MTAS testing participation.  In fact, this bill will financially reward districts for high-percentage test-taking as well as to help students and families understand and enjoy the Common Core Standards better! 


Here is the purpose of the bill: Pay off districts to push high test participation.  Financial incentives will absolutely drive administrators and teachers to push children and parents to take the tests.  And schools hold the keys to grading and a child’s very future career.


Subdivision 1.




To help improve student and family understanding of state
standards and statewide testing required under section 120B.30, the financial incentives
provided in this section shall apply to all school districts and charter schools that receive
general education aid under section 126C.10, subdivision 2.




How will the basic formula be amended?  (This is the compensation that schools receive annually.)




Subd. 3.


Participation incentives.


(a) Each year, in confirming the amount of the formula
allowance increase a district or charter school will receive for the next fiscal year, the
department must take into account the district’s MCA and MTAS testing participation rates
under this subdivision.


(b) If a district’s or charter school’s grades 3 to 8 participation rate and high school
participation rate are both greater than or equal to 95 percent, the district or charter school
will receive 100 percent of the formula allowance under section 126C.10, subdivision 2.


(c) If a district’s or charter school’s grades 3 to 8 participation rate or high school
participation rate or both are less than 95 percent, for the next fiscal year only, the district
will receive a percentage of the formula allowance increase equal to the all-grades
participation rate.




As you can easily see, our state plan is much more stringent than the ESSA federal grant program!  The problem comes with reporting the 95 percent.  Minnesota is required to report the 95 percent but is tasked to create their own plan or “consequence” if 95 percent is not met, that is, due to opt outs.  For example. they could require districts to inquire why less than 95 percent of parents are refusing the Common Core test, the MCAs.  The “consequence” can be hard or light.  Minnesota can choose! Instead, the SF 1475 elects to more stringently punish school districts through financially incentives that will surely push parents into testing using the 95 percent “rule” when in fact, there is no federal requirement for how we choose to reward or punish districts. 


A quick word about Local Control:  If passed, school districts will have additional “local control” to bully parents into compliance.  Local control in all our school districts is best described as dictatorial superintendents and their rubber-stamping school board members.  This is not true local control!  Local control is the foundation which places constituents (not “stakeholders”) in charge, who elect school board members, who in turn serve those constituents.  Our Constitutional Republic is flipped, and no thanks to SF 1475, which continues this expansion of district dictatorial “local control”.


And what about your constituents?  Where are we to turn?  What about parental rights?  I hope these ideas are not lost to our Senators!  By furthering a federally-led education curriculum, the intent brings into question the violation of our State Constitution, and it’s requirement of a state- developed curriculum.


We ask that you read the ESSA Rules again and start over.    We have done extensive research on this law and it’s effects, and ask that you ask these Senators look to MACC for guidance.


Linda Bell, Kerstin Schulz, Chris Daniels, Anne Taylor, Jennifer Black-Allen


Minnesota Advocates and Champions for Children, a non-partisan grassroots group




Again, if this parental rights and local control are important to you, tell the senators, “NO” on SF 1475.


CALL NOW:  Senator Eric Pratt  651-296-4123




        Senator Gary Dahms  651-296-8138


                       Senator Roger Chamberlain 651-296-1253




                        Senator Carla Nelson 651-296-4848






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