ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Students in nearly 700 school districts across the state are being put to the test.
Standardized tests based on the Common Core standards began on Tuesday.
The tests have prompted parent and teacher driven backlash as well as a push to have kids opt out of the tests. But state education officials said the boycotts could also affect the district’s funding. However, according to the state’s Student Information Repository System manual, students who refuse the entire test would not be counted at all.
Marilyn Fuller has a daughter in the eighth grade. She had her daughter refuse the tests on Tuesday.
“Played it like it was a two-hour delay,” she said. “So I dropped her off around 9:30 cause if she went in regular time, she’d have to just sit in the auditorium and read a book or just sit there.”
But her reasoning isn’t about the tests themselves. Fuller said she opted out because she doesn’t agree with the implementation.
“I don’t want to see the teacher penalized for maybe your kid’s just having a bad day,” she said. “Their performance is being judged on these tests. And these tests really don’t – I don’t think they give a true picture of how the kids are performing because some kids are bad at taking tests.”
In the Mohonasen school district, more than 670 parents opted their children out of the tests, including Rebecca Ryan and her sister Ruth McFarland.
“These tests do not assess our children individually,” McFarland said.
The sisters said they aren’t against testing, but they believe the tests do not better serve their children’s education.
“We think testing can be great if it’s used properly,” Ryan said. “The tests are not developmentally correct.”
But some parents did not opt out because they were afraid their school would be punished.
Maryann Dunn lives in the Guilderland School District.
“I had gotten information from the principal that it really punishes the school,” she said. “If you opt out. And that would skew the test scores.”
Rebecca Dague said she doesn’t agree with Common Core, either, but didn’t opt out her son because she wasn’t sure if it’d be worth it.
“If it doesn’t go away, then opting out – in the long run – we’re going to lose anyway,” she said.
Dague said her son studied extra hard and even saw a tutor to prepare and because of the extra work put in outside of school, she wanted her son to test.
“Until they change it, got to go with the flow,” she said.
Other parents who also didn’t opt out said it was because the tests did not affect a child’s grade.
“We tell them not to worry about it,” Jennifer Bloss said. “Just do their best like we ask them to do for everything else, and move on. It’s just a little piece of their day.”
But it’s because of the test’s standards and time spent preparing solely for them that has Ryan opting out.
“They have nothing to do with what’s going on in the real world,” she said.
Ryan and McFarland have been encouraging other parents to do the same to send a message to elected leaders that the standardized tests are not the education they want for their kids.
“Right now, the fight is in the classroom,” McFarland said.
Several local superintendents were uncomfortable talking on camera because they said state education had not given them a clear answer about what consequences – if any – if they don’t have 95 percent participation rate.
But Mohonasen Assistant Superintendent Lisa Cutting said parents have the right to choose.
“Parents have that absolute decision making to do what they feel is best for their students,” she said.
Cutting said if the percentage of students opting out continues in the coming years, the district could lose some control of how it uses federal funds.
“For some supplies; there’s for professional development,” she said. “I know we use ours predominately for salaries.”
But if students refuse the first day, it wouldn’t count against anyone; however, if your child has already taken one of the tests, refusing the rest would then negatively affect the school’s performance rate.
Common Core testing continues through the week. Next week, students in grades 3-8 will be given Common Core tests for math and science.
The following is the percentage of students in grades 3-8 that opted out of Tuesday ELA Common Core testing:
- Mohonasen – 53
- Amsterdam – 27.7
- Guilderland – 17.7
- Albany – 15.5
- Shenendehowa – 15
- Bethlehem – 14.5
- Niskayuna – 10.8
- North Colonie – 10.5
- Troy – 7.6
- Schenectady – 2.3