NY students continue to opt out of Common Core testing one year after record refusals

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The English Language Arts portion of the Common Core testing began on Tuesday in New York, and many students opted out of taking the test.

New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said the state has made major changes to the Common Core English and math assessments since last year when 1 in 5 students refused to take them. New York last year saw the highest rate of opt-outs in the country.

Those who are against the testing said it’s unfair to students because it’s developmentally inappropriate. Parents protested the volume of testing and the high-stakes consequences for teachers, students and schools.

But state education officials said they have made significant changes to the testing. Among the biggest shifts is that student test scores won’t count in teacher evaluations. The tests also will be shorter and students will have as much time as they need to finish.

However, supporters of the opt-out movement anticipate large numbers again this year, saying the changes haven’t gone far enough.

“We are asking them to do things that are developmentally beyond their years,” education advocate Deb Escobar said.

Escobar was a teacher for 23 years. When she was teaching, she said she valued giving her students projects and finding a different way to connect with each of them. Now, she said students are faced with a testing-based curriculum that could be teaching them how to fail and accept it.

“They don’t have to wait for the scores,” she said. “A student knows right away whether they did well or not. When they do poorly on those tests and they are too difficult for them, they go home with the idea that ‘I’m not good enough. I can’t do this,’” she said.

During her last two years teaching, Escobar said she saw students shaking, throwing up, and developing migraines because of the pressure to do well. She and other advocates created a robo call to inform parents of their rights to opt their children out of the testing.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco shares her frustration.

“Kids who come from high need, low wealth districts where there’s poverty, addiction, homelessness, joblessness; a high level of kids with developmental disabilities are not going to go to schools where teachers are going to be able to develop them at the same level and at the same level as high wealth districts,” he said.

Some school districts in the Capital Region have reported their opt-out numbers after the first day of testing.

Albany reported 16 percent, Guilderland reported 20 percent, and Mohonasen reported 43 percent.

On its website, the New York State Department of Education offered the following reason for the one size fits all teaching approach:

The state’s responsibility is to set student learning expectations for what all students should know and be able to do as a result of skilled instruction.

If your child start the ELA test, they can still bring an opt out letter on the second day. If you want to opt your child out of the math portion, you have time to do so beforehand.

To learn more, click HERE.

Testing Schedule:

Grades 3–8 English Language Arts

  • Administration Dates: Tuesday, April 5 – Thursday, April 7
  • Make-up Dates: Friday , April 8 – Tuesday, April 12
  • Scoring Dates: Friday, April 8 – Wednesday, April 20
  • Final Dates to Submit Answer Sheets to Scanning Centers: Wednesday, April 20

Grades 3–8 Mathematics

  • Administration Dates: Wednesday, April 13 – Friday, April 15
  • Make-up Dates: Monday, April 18 – Wednesday, April 20
  • Scoring Dates: Monday, April 18 – Thursday, May 5
  • Final Dates to Submit Answer Sheets to Scanning Centers: Thursday, May 5

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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