Monday, March 30, 2015

Common Core test opt-out movement grows; New York leads the way

Spring is standardized test season, but across the nation, opposition to Common Core tests is increasing. On Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly voted to let parents choose not to have their children take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Common Core tests and require the schools to give the children other activities to do during test time. Rocky Killion, Indiana superintendent of the year, is so averse to the exams that he even recommended parents home-school their children during testing week, Valerie Straus reports for The Washington Post.

New York is leading the opt-out movement; approximately 60,000 parents decided last year not to let their children take the tests. "The purpose of the standardized tests is to measure a student's knowledge and overall achievement in Common Core Learning Standards adopted by New York three years ago," Swapna Ramaswamy writes for The Journal News.

A post by Carol Burris, New York's 2013 high-school principal of the year, and Bianca Tanis, an elementary special-education teacher and public school parents in New York's Hudson Valley, explains what is happening in the state: "This year, the New York State Allies for Public Education, a coalition of pro-public school, anti-testing advocates, are sponsoring more than 40 forums across the state, and parents are coming out in droves to express their dislike of Common Core test-based reform," Burris and Tanis write.

New York legislators are also weighing in. Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco said during an interview with News 10 that school distrcts "should be providing parents with the truths and the facts and their rights. . . . They can refuse something for their kids they've never opted into," Burris and Tanis report. Former teacher Tedisco introduced a bill to help parents opt their students out and make it illegal for student or teachers to face repercussions as a result.

Others, by employing strategies such as threats and misinformation, are trying to stop the opt out movement. Some superintendents have said that state funding will no longer be available for schools whose testing participation falls below 95 percent, but the "New York State Education Department has stated that test refusal will have no effect on state aid," Burris and Taner write. (Read more)

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