A proposal that would allow the parents of Capital School District students to decide whether their children take state standardized tests might not be legal, according to the state department of education.

A proposal that would allow the parents of Capital School District students to decide whether their children take state standardized tests might not be legal, according to the state department of education.

The proposal, offered by Capital school board member Kay Dietz-Sass on Wednesday, seeks to add language to the district’s accountability and assessment policy that would allow parents to opt their children out of taking Smarter Balanced, the new standardized tests that will be administered to students for the first time next year.

“We already feel as if our kids are tested to death, in this district, in this state and in general,” said Dietz-Sass, who wore a red T-shirt with that bore the message “This doesn’t define you” over an image of a Scantron answer form.

The revisions Dietz-Sass proposed would make parents responsible for notifying school principals that they want to opt their child out of state testing, while also making it clear that students could not be discriminated against or punished for opting out.

Under the proposed policy, children who are opted out of state standardized testing would be given alternative assignments to work on at the same time and place as the rest of their classmates who are being tested.

“These assignments will not be punitive in nature,” Dietz-Sass said. “Rather, it will be used to enhance the curriculum already in place in the Capital School District.”

While the school board is currently slated to vote on the measure June 18, a Delaware Department of Education spokeswoman said Thursday that the proposed changes might not be allowable under state and federal law.

“There are no provisions in state or federal regulation that allow Delaware to have a system to ‘opt students out’ of the assessment,” department spokeswoman Alison May wrote in an email Thursday. “In addition, state and federal laws are clear that there is an expectation that all students will participate in the state assessment system … Only two reasons are allowable for requests for exemptions: extreme medical incidents or for reasons of mental health of the child (each requires documentation from a physician).”

Students who receive exemptions from state testing are counted as non-participants. In order to meet their Annual Yearly Progress goals, schools must have at least a 95-percent participation rate in each content area and various subgroup, such as minorities and low income students, May said.

Even if students could opt out, they are not permitted to bring outside materials into testing areas due to test security issues, she said.

District staff could not be reached Thursday to respond to May’s comments.

The district’s current assessment policy states that students are responsible for attending all appropriate testing sessions and participating in the assessment process.

“I just think that people should know they can opt out,” Dietz-Sass said Wednesday. “I think that at some point we need to make that decision and say ‘when is enough.’”

Other board members voiced support for the proposed policy change Wednesday.

Board member Sean Christiansen said his fifth-grade son is tired of being tested.

“I totally agree with this,” he said. “We want kids to be excited about education and I know this is coming from the state, but this is our first line of defense. This is our fighting ground. We’ve got to be for the best interest of our kids.”

Board President Matthew Lindell, who was wearing a T-shirt that matched Deitz-Sass’s, said he felt the proposal represented the Capital school board finest hour.

“We’re giving parents the choice in their kid’s education,” he said. “Whether we like it or not, we’re going to have parents [opting out] any way. We might as well just jump on the bandwagon and protect them at the district level. If the state wants to do something, fine.”