Exemptions to State Assessments Q & A

  • What is the Process for Expressing a Religious Objection?

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    Step 1:
     Chapter 4, provides for the right of any parents/guardians to excuse his/her child from the assessment if, upon inspection of the testing materials, he/she finds the assessment to be in conflict with his/her religious beliefs.  This is the only basis under Chapter 4 rules for parent/guardian to excuse his or her child from statewide assessments.

    Requests for a student to be to be excused based on religious beliefs from testing, cannot be accepted from parents/guardians that have not previewed the assessment materials.

    • Prior to the assessment dates, parents/guardians may contact their child's school to review the assessments from the time of receipt through the end of the testing window.
    • The assessment must be reviewed on district property and district personnel must be present at all times.
    • The school will provide a secure place for the parents/guardians to view the assessments.
    • The parents/guardians must sign a Parent Confidentiality Agreement prior to reviewing the assessment.
    • The parents/guardians may not photocopy, write down, or in any other manner record any portion of the assessments, including directions.


    Step 2: If after reviewing the assessment, parents/guardians find the test to be in conflict with their religious beliefs and wish their student(s) to be excused from the test, the parents/guardians must provide a written request to excuse the child based on religious beliefs. The written objection must be addressed to the Superintendent, but submitted directly to the building principal. Objections must be in hard copy and signed by the parent/guardian.

    If excused:  If the student is excused from the state assessment due to parent or guardian request, school personnel will provide a alternative learning environment (this may include the administration of a local assessment) for the student throughout the assessment window.

    Students who do not participate in the assessment due to parent or guardian request will negatively affect the school's participation rate and can potentially have a negative impact on the school's accountability status.


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  • What is State Guidance for Medical Exemptions?

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    Reproduced from the PA Department of Education webpage here

    Generally, if a student can receive instruction, then they are also able to participate in state assessments; however, the health and well-being of students should take priority in determining whether they can participate. 

    Students may receive a medical exemption if they cannot participate in a state assessment during the testing window, including make-up dates, due to a significant medical event. Examples include, but are not limited to, a student who is 1) receiving short-term medical treatment due to a medical emergency; or 2) seriously ill or has a medical condition that prevents them from receiving instruction during the testing window.

    1. medical emergency is defined as a circumstance in which a student cannot take or finish taking the assessment during the entire testing window, including make-up dates, because of a recent significant medical event just prior to or during the annual testing window. Examples of medical emergencies include: 
      1. Serious injury 
      2. Concussion 
      3. Confinement to home or hospital with an acute condition, not a long-term home instruction or hospital instruction situation. 
      4. Inability to interact with others without serious risk of infection or contamination. 
      5. Pregnancy with significant health complications or delivery just prior to or during the testing window. 
      6. Mental health crisis that prevents a student from receiving instruction. 
    A note from a physician dated at least two weeks within the start of the testing window must be on file at the school. These records must be retained for three years.
    1. A serious illness or medical condition is defined as one in which the student is receiving active treatment for a life-threatening illness or medical condition and/or the associated recuperation. A note from a physician must be on file at the school and must be retained for three years.

    To account for a student with a medical exemption, as defined above, the “Medical Emergency” bubble on testing documents should be used.

    Note: An assessment of a student’s medical condition must be made annually at the testing window for each content area


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  • Can I, or my child, simply "refuse" to participate in the testing?

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    Under state law, the school district is unable to grant a general request to have a child excused from taking a state assessment. 

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