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STAAR | EOC Testing

Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius

This Latin phrase, used in the law, means “the expression of one thing is the exclusion of the other.” In other words, when certain things are specified in a law, an intention to exclude all others from its operation may be inferred.

Why do I tell you this? Because the brilliant lawyers that school districts hire with your tax dollars love to ignore that age old maxim when it comes to parental requests to opt out of full period AI. You see, the Opt Out law says: “(a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent’s child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent’s religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent’s child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity.  A parent is not entitled to remove the parent’s child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester.

Now catch that last part. The law specifies two things that define when a parent is NOT ENTITLED to remove the child from an activity. The first is to avoid a test, which does not apply to full period AI classes. The second is to prevent a child from taking a subject for an entire semester. This also does not apply to removal from full period AI as (a) the student already has other math or language arts classes and (b) by offering to do AI outside of the full period setting, the parent defeats any argument that AI itself is a subject we are trying to avoid.

So when the school tells you that you are not entitled to remove your child from full period AI because another part of the Education Code says its required (it doesn’t really say that, but let’s pretend with them), just remind them that under the principle of Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius, accelerated instruction can never be considered an exception to 26.010, because the law presumes that all exceptions have been incorporated in the statute and unexpressed ones cannot be implied.

NOTE: This theory applies equally if not moreso to AI that is not in place of electives.

Categories
STAAR | EOC Testing

A Note on Accelerated Instruction (STAAR Summer School)

Updated June 2018

At the 5th and 8th grade Grade Placement Committees, some schools will take the position that the law prohibits them from promoting your student unless they attend required accelerated instruction (AI). The law could be read that way if your child took and failed the STAAR. For students that did not take the STAAR (even if they were scored a zero based on test refusal) the law could also be read in a way to say AI is not required. If your child has not been tested or refused the test, your position should be that AI is not required because there is no failure to perform satisfactorily because your child was never assessed.

Still, based on TEA pressure, the district will often insist on requiring AI, the following points should be made by you (page citations are to the TEA’s Student Success Initiave Manual downloadable here):

1. The AI program should be based on individual student needs (pp. 5, 13).  Therefore, the GPC needs to identify the specific needs of your student, and design a program specific to those needs. Overlapping instruction that covers other needs is not proper, so placing them in a group environment with students with different needs is not consistent with the manual.  If your child is 504/Special Education, this is a huge issue, particularly if the disability or condition is the likely cause of the performance.  (“Do you plan to teach my child how not to be dyslexic during summer school?”).

2. “Neither the law nor the rules specify the amount of time to be provided for the accelerated instruction.” (p. 32). The GPC has discretion to prescribe any AI program that is appropriate. If the GPC agrees a student is academically ready for promotion, a single 30 minute class can satisfy the statute. As a parent, go into your meeting with a proposal if the school is insisting that AI . (i.e. Since it is apparent my child is academically ready, I will agree to one week of AI).  Remind them, that the SSI Manual encourages the GPC to be flexible with summer Accelerated Instruction. (p. 31)

3. Finally, please remember YOU ARE A PART OF THE GPC. If the committee comes in with a decision already made, you tell them you want a new committee because they made a decision without your input. It is completely improper for that committee to have decided anything before you are there to meet with them!  By meeting without you, the school has failed to follow the law and the decision of the committee is not valid.

To prepare for your GPC meeting, try to get an e-mail or note from the STAAR subject teachers stating your child is academically ready for promotion based on classroom work and their professional assessment during the school year.  Collect any other assessments or diagnostics indicating your child’s performance was grade level appropriate.  If you have time, consider having outside evaluations or diagnostics done.  This will give you an objective view as to whether promotion or retention is in your child’s best interest.

Good luck!. As always, if schools fail to follow the law, please make an Incident Report to us!

Scott Placek
Arnold & Placek, P.C.