Parents, students and local officials gear up for Common Core opt outs

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Common Core math testing begins statewide on Wednesday, and parents across the Capital Region are planning to opt their children out of taking the exam.

The number of students who opted out of last week’s ELA Common Core test varies across districts.

North Colonie CSD had almost 12 percent of its students opting out. Mohonasen CSD had about 43 percent of its students opt out, and Schenectady CSD reported about three percent of its students opting out.

But some believe the math opt outs may be even greater. This will be the second year in a row Sara Niccoli has opted her 13-year-old daughter out of Common Core testing.

“We really never could figure out how these tests in anyway benefit my daughter,” she said.

In fact, Niccoli said the stress of the test has brought her daughter to tears.

“It’s incredibly anxiety inducing,” she said. “It takes a lot of time. My daughter is a busy kid. She’s got violin lessons and track and add on top of it test prep.”

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco agrees. He said no student should face extreme stress over standardized testing

“School districts are actually sending home memos to parents telling them how to counsel their kids on the stress of dealing with a standardized test,” he said.

Therefore, he wants a uniform approach for parents to opt their children out of the testing without penalties.

“We’ve got to put in statute these things,” Tedisco said. “We’ve got to pass laws that protect kids from this type of stress and anxiety.”

But Questar III BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Gladys Cruz supports Common Core testing. She said this year’s tests have been changed in hopes of reducing the stress.

“They’re shorter in all grades,” she said. “There are fewer questions. That’s one big change that was made to the state assessments.”

There is also no time limit on the tests this year, and teachers have been able to influence what questions are included.

“That should make, you know, relieve the stress in students who are taking the assessments,” Dr. Cruz said.

Niccoli said her daughter noticed a difference in h ow many of her classmates didn’t take the test.

“More than half of the students opted out, and last year, it was just a small percentage,” she said.

Niccoli intends to run as a democrat for the 46th district of the state senate. Currently, that seat is held by Republican George Amedore.

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