It's spring in Teton Valley, which means its mud season, but it also means it's testing season for children at local schools.
Students are busy taking the Idaho Standards Achievements Test (ISAT). This is the common core aligned test the district has been moving to in recent years. Previously it was called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test, or SBAC.
Despite being called the ISAT, which has been the title for standardized test in the state for years, the assessment that Teton children will be taking this year, is in substance, the SBAC.
The Common Core curriculum is controversial around the country and standardized testing itself has drawn fire from parents and some education experts.
Those concerns and strong feelings have led some parents to have their children not take the new ISAT. Parents do indeed have the right, across Idaho and in Teton Valley, to “opt out” of standardized testing.
Until recently if a parent in Tetonia or Driggs, for example, wanted to exempt their children from testing they would download a form from the district and turn it in to the school. The form is no longer on the website, but parents still have the right to “opt out” if they choose.
Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme said the district received guidance from the state board of education that districts should no longer offer a standard form, but instead accept a “simple written notice” from parents informing the district of their intention to “opt out” their children.
Woolstenhulme said, so far, there have been a small number of “opt outs” in the district.
“We have had a few, or some, at each school,” he said.
Districts also need to show the state board of education that 95 percent of students are participating in the ISAT exam.
“That is our responsibility as districts,” Woolstenhulme said.
Some students have taken the exam already, with the bulk of students currently in the midst of taking the test now.