Common Misinformation from Public Officials or Professional Educators—and the Facts

Apr 20, 2015 by

Sandra Stotsky –

Common Misinformation from Public Officials or Professional Educators—and the Facts

Common Myths and Misinformation

Myth One: Superintendents, not school boards/committees, determine educational policy.

Myth Two: School boards/committees play a small role role in determining matters of curriculum and instruction in their school districts (view expressed by the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees).

Myth Three: Local school boards/committees have no intrinsic powers except those provided by state government (view expressed by the Chairman of California’s State Board of Education).

Myth Four: State law requires all students to participate in federal- or state-mandated tests (myth promoted by countless public officials).

Myth Five: There are penalties for students who opt out of federal- or state-mandated tests (myth promoted by countless school administrators and professional educators).

Myth Six: Colleges will not admit students who opt out of federal- or state-mandated tests and have no “college-readiness” test scores to show on their applications (what colleges have announced this policy?).

The Facts

As one state department of education told its citizens, “We expect all students to participate in state assessments, but no law requires participation.”… “Students who opt out of participation on state assessments will be counted as a non-participant when we calculate participation rates, but the non-participating students will not receive a score of ‘0’ when we calculate the percent of students who attained proficiency.”… “Opting out of participation in state assessments, under current state laws and regulations, will not affect a student’s placement, grade retention, or receipt of special services, nor will opting out affect a teacher’s evaluation.”

According to the legal counsel for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC):

The school committee in each city and town and regional school district shall have the power to select and to terminate the superintendent, shall review and approve budgets for public education in the district, and shall establish educational goals and policies for the schools in the district consistent with the requirements of law and statewide goals and standards established by the board of education (Mass. General Laws, Chapter 71, section 37).

The legal counsel for MASC also indicates:

The authority of a school committee to establish educational goals and policies…is central to the mission of the school committee. The superintendent is charged with managing the school district subject to state law and the policy determinations of each school committee (Mass. General Laws, Chapter 71, section 59).

It is clear that the pre-2010 Massachusetts standards are consistent with the Common Core State Standards. For example, the chief architect of the English language arts standards (David Coleman) has stated, among other things, that “the literature standards are much indebted to Massachusetts.” While Common Core’s literature standards actually bear no resemblance to the 2001 Massachusetts English language arts standards, whatever Coleman says must be taken as the official interpretation.

What Local School Boards Can Do

1. A local school board/committee can decide whether its school system should offer instructional sessions as alternatives to testing sessions for opted-out students and expect its school administrators, including the superintendent, to implement its policy.

2. Local school boards/committees can place questions on the local ballot for the a local election, usually subject to approval by their Board of Selectmen, Mayor, or City Council, to allow parents and others freedom of expression. Here is a paraphrase of the wording sponsored by the Halifax, Massachusetts Board of Selectmen and placed on the ballot for the May 2015 election: 

Do you request that the State Legislature nullify the July 2010 decision of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt the Common Core State Standards, and return Massachusetts to its pre-2010 curriculum frameworks, standards, and assessments in English language arts, mathematics, and science? 

Here is the wording of an article on the Warrant that a majority of Tewksbury, Massachusetts residents voted for at their Open Town Meeting last fall.

We reject the use of the Common Core State Standards and the associated testing known as PARCC (Partnership of Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) which stifles academic freedom and achievement, and return control over education to the local school district of Tewksbury, Massachusetts. We choose to use the Pre-2009 Massachusetts standards in ELA, Math, science/technology, and history/social science and associated testing, known as MCAS, which has made Massachusetts’ education number one in the nation and competitive with the top-ranking countries on international standardized tests.


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  1. Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. | UARK – DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REFORM - […] Sandra Stotsky.  Posted on Education News, April 20, 2015.  Common Misinformation from Public Officials and Professional Educators–and the Facts.…

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