Letter: HB81 financially costly

Published: Monday, Feb. 17 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

How disappointing that the House Education Committee voted 10-5 to advance HB81, which would permit public school parents to review questions, even questions their child will not see, on Utah’s standardized tests — even before administration. Unfortunately, HB81’s financial and educational costs outweigh its benefits.

Permitting access to test questions increases the chances that question content will lose confidentiality. Replacing one publicly disclosed question would cost the state thousands of dollars. When Ohio passed a similar law, taxpayers saw increased costs. The bill would also make cheating easier, which would invalidate test results.

And the bill’s benefits are minimal. Why parents should see questions that will not be administered to their children is unclear. Its sponsor, Rep. Michael Kennedy (R-Alpine), says HB81 increases transparency. But the Utah State Office of Education already publicizes a great deal of information about the tests and their development. Moreover, a committee of 15 parents already evaluated every question. Why do more parents need to examine the test?

If the legislature must permit parents to review questions, it should follow the standards for the practice, such as only allowing review after administration and forbidding note-taking during review. The Utah State Office of Education should also have discretion to create policies that ensure test confidentiality.

Russ Warner

Lehi

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