Lawmaker proposes testing opt-out

Posted at: 12/05/2013 6:01 PM
Updated at: 12/05/2013 10:30 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill into the next New Mexico Legislative Session that would allow parents or school districts to opt out of state-mandated standardized tests that are intended to evaluate teachers' performance. 

The announcement was made exclusively to KOB Eyewitness News 4 one day after the APS Board of Education voted not to send letters to parents informing them of their legal right to opt students out of the tests.

Students across New Mexico are poised to take statewide, uniform, end-of-course tests for the first time this year. But state Senator Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, says he's drafting a bill that would allow parents and/or school districts to opt students out of the tests without penalty.

"Frankly, this is all heading toward legal battle unless the legislature steps in and deals with it," Keller said. "Testing has become testing for the sake of testing as opposed to creating better students. That's something we have to be careful with. We have to be sure there are large amounts of the school day left for all kinds of educational purposes other than teaching to the test. I think we’ve gone too far at this point."

Keller hopes the bill would give parents and school administrators options about what he calls "over-testing" in New Mexico. But Keller likely faces an uphill battle. Gov. Susana Republic strongly supports the standardized tests and would likely veto a bill that would destroy her attempts at education reform. 

"The fact that this has become such an issue in our state speaks exactly why we need to consider this and solve the problem," Keller said. 

The testing is controversial among educators in large part because the tests don't count as part of a student's grade. Instead, it's intended to measure a teacher's achievement and classroom progress. 

Opening day of the 2014 NM Legislative Session is Jan. 25, 2014.