Bill to protect schools from testing opt-out penalties advances

Schools and teachers won’t face penalties if participation in tests drops below required levels, under a bill advanced by a state Senate committee Thursday night.

Hundreds of thousands of students are taking new controversial state standardized tests and some parents have opted their children out. Currently, if 95 percent of students don’t participate in state testing, schools, districts and teachers can face sanctions.

"The federal government, the state government does not control my son and does not control the decisions my wife and I make on his behalf," said the bill's co-sponsor, Sen. Chris Holbert.

The bill passed eight to one, with one senator saying that an easier opt-out will blow up the state’s accountability system for schools. The bill now goes to the full Senate for debate.