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Potential Testing Dilemma
North Dakota law requires that homeschooled students be tested at certain grade levels. Specifically, the statute says, "While in grades four, six, eight, and ten, each child receiving home education shall take a standardized achievement test used by the school district in which the child resides, or, if requested by the parent, shall take a nationally normed standardized achievement test." But what happens if the school district tells the parent that it does not use a test in one of the grade levels in which a homeschooled student is supposed to be tested? Is the parent then required to choose and pay for another test?
The applicable statute, § 15.1-23-09 of the North Dakota Century Code, gives parents two choices: selecting a standardized achievement test used by the school district or selecting a nationally normed standardized achievement test not used by the school district. The statute presumes that the school district uses tests in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10, the years for which testing is required in a home education program. Notable is the fact that the statute does not say a parent may choose a test used by the school district only if the school district uses a test at those grade levels.
Thus, if the school district violates the law by refusing to provide a test, it cannot require parents to select and pay for another test. The choice of tests is the parents', not the school district's, and the district cannot take this choice away from a parent. Further, if the school district refuses to provide a standardized achievement test requested by a parent, the school district cannot later complain that the student was not tested that year. In this case, the school district's refusal to provide the test would be the cause of the lack of testing.
Home School Legal Defense Association is prepared to defend any of our member families encountering such a testing dilemma in North Dakota.
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