Syosset/Jericho See Low Opt Out Rate

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District Opt Out Rates

Thousands of students across Nassau County refused to participate in the first round of Common Core testing last week, sending a clear message to Albany regarding state assessment testing—and more of the same is expected during this week’s testing.

While some school districts like Plainview had close to half of its test-eligible students opt out, the Jericho and Syosset districts saw a comparatively smaller number of test refusals. The Jericho School District reports that 248 students, or 18 percent, opted out, while the Syosset School District said that 965 students or, 33 percent, opted out.

According to the group Long Island Opt Out, 82,036 students opted out of the ELA tests. But Jeanette Deutermann, who spearheads the Long Island Opt Out Facebook group and movement, said she has mixed feelings about the refusal numbers.

“I am so incredibly grateful to parents that have chosen to stand up for public schools, their children, and our public school teachers by refusing to allow their children to participate in the NYS assessments this year. However, that is mixed with sadness that our classrooms have come to this. I would love for nothing more than to know that legislators, Governor Cuomo, and the State Education Department (SED) have finally heard us loud and clear as to what we want and do not want for our children’s education here in New York,” Deutermann said. “We continue to hear the rhetoric that ‘parents just do not understand how important these tests are.’ It is not that we do not understand the importance of knowing the progress of our children, it’s that we do not believe that these assessments are valid or useful in any way to give us that information on how they are progressing. We value the importance of child-centered, hands-on learning, and these common core assessments have robbed our children of that rich, creative learning environment all children deserve.”

However, the SED maintains that the tests are a valuable indicator of a child’s progress, and says that test refusal is a terrible mistake.

“Test refusal eliminates important information about how our kids are doing. I do not pretend that test results are the only way we know, but they are an important piece of information. They are the only common measure of progress we have,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said. “We are not going to force kids to take tests. But we are going to continue to help students and parents understand it’s a terrible mistake to refuse the right to know.”

According to SED, under federal regulations, a school with less than 95 percent of its students participating in the assessment can lose significant funding.

“The state education agency is expected to consider imposing sanctions on that district, including—in the most egregious cases—withholding programmatic funds,” a spokesperson for the SED said. “What sanctions to impose must be decided on a case by case basis, taking into account the degree and length of time the district has failed to meet participation rate requirements and the reasons for such failure.”

Matt Jacobs, Regional Staff Director for the Nassau chapter of the New York State Union of Teachers, said that legally, there’s no connection between state aid and students taking the test.

“There is no provision in the law for the schools state aid or state funding to be reduced in any way, based on the number of students taking the test,” Jacobs said. “We had schools last year where more than 5 percent of students opted out, and [the district] didn’t lose any funding.”

— Additional Reporting By Betsy Abraham

 

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