Maintaining Legislative Intent and Respecting Parental Rights
There are two parts to HB 303; one specifies criteria for the assessments, and the other would require parental consent prior to any psychological services.
The assessment criteria specified in the bill is consistent with current state statutes. Per RSA 193-C:3 III “The assessment exercises or tasks shall be valid and appropriate representations of the standards the students are expected to achieve.” State law, RSA 193-C:3 II requires that statewide assessments must be “objectively scored.” It is also consistent with RSA 186:11, XXXIII to require assessments to be valid for students of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and to prohibit discriminatory scoring. This was passed into law via HB 1447 (2014).
Over the last few years, multiple attempts have been made to include dispositional questions in assessments and surveys. Last spring Representative Rick Ladd introduced an amendment to SB 343 (2014) that removed dispositions from statewide assessments. Now RSA 193-C:5 requires assessments only pertain to academic content. HB 303 is also consistent with SB 48 (2013) that removed dispositions from the final version accepted in the Committee of Conference. HB 303 preserves the legislative intent of multiple bills relative to assessments.
The second half of HB 303 addresses concerns raised with the changes to Ed 306, the Minimum Standards for Public School Approval. Last year Ed 306 was rewritten to include “comprehensive psychological services.” Section Ed 306.25 titled “Comprehensive School Psychological Services” makes no reference to parental consent or prior authorization.
When the state Board of Education discussed these Ed 306 revisions in the winter of 2013, some of the members asked if comprehensive psychological services were limited to special education students or if it applied to the general student body. That question was never answered. Even the BOE didn’t know and they were responsible for the changes.
It is unconscionable to provide psychological services to students, except if mandated by the court, without parental consent. Currently schools require parents to provide prior written consent for their child to receive an OTC medication. How could NH not require notification for something as significant as psychological services?
Please contact the House Education Committee, urging them to keep both halves of HB 303 intact. Ask them to support this bill and issue an Ought to Pass (OTP) recommendation. The executive session is not yet scheduled, but is expected soon. The entire committee can be emailed at HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
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