New York Sees Massive Number of Assessment Opt-Outs Again

New York State Department of Education Building in Albany, NY. Photo credit: Matt H. Wade (CC-By-SA)

New York State Department of Education Building in Albany, NY
Photo credit: Matt H. Wade (CC-By-SA 3.0)

New York State saw 20% of their students opt-out of their Common Core-aligned assessments last year.  This prompted the New York Board of Regents to makes some changes, such as, offer a shorter test.

While I don’t know if we’ll see the record amounts of opt-outs we saw last year it is pretty clear the numbers will be big this year as well.

Newsday reports thousands of students have refused the test on Long Island.

Thousands of students in a dozen of Long Island’s biggest districts already submitted forms to opt out of the tests, a Newsday survey shows. Administrators said more are expected to do so as the first exams begin Tuesday.

New York students are taking the ELA assessments this week. The math assessments are scheduled for April 13-15.

Carol Burris, writing a guest op/ed at The Washington Post, discussed what her group, Network for Public Education (which is spearheading a national opt-out) has heard in New York.

Eighty-seven percent of the students in Allendale Elementary School outside of Buffalo, New York opted out.  Eighty-six percent of test eligible students in the Long Island district of Comsewogue refused the test, and 89 percent of students in Dolgeville in the Mohawk Valley said “no.”

Long Island continues to be the hotbed of testing resistance. Newsday reported that 49.7 percent of all Long Island students refused the test Tuesday even though the Newsday editorial board has repeatedly urged parents to have their children take it.  Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael J. Hynes characterized Opt Out as “a thunderclap” sent to Albany.  Seventy-one percent of the students in his district refused the Common Core tests.

There is also evidence that the Opt Out movement is gaining ground with parents of color, with many no longer willing to buy the spin that taking Common Core tests will improve their children’s life chances.

Ninety-seven percent of the more than 1,000 students who attend Westbury Middle School in Nassau County are black or Latino, and  81 percent are economically disadvantaged.  On Tuesday, 50 percent of those students were opted out of the tests by their parents. Last year, the number was 2 percent.

It looks to me like the opt-out movement is alive and well and growing.

The Soccer Moms Are Winning


The Wall Street Journal points out the “soccer mom” revolt against Common Core, and in particular, the Common Core-aligned assessments.

Jason Riley wrote yesterday:

“The one thing upper-middle-class parents want and have grown accustomed to having is the ability to control their kids’ education,”Jay Greene, an education reform scholar who teaches at the University of Arkansas, told me by phone this week. “They will purchase private school if they have to. They will move to another neighborhood if they must. And they will boycott testing if they feel their control is being interfered with.”

Forty-five states initially signed on to Common Core in return for more federal education funding, but the tide is turning and opponents—including teachers unions who don’t want student test scores, or any other objective measures, used to evaluate instructors—have the momentum. California and Utah already allow parents to opt out of assessments, and  CBS News  reported in March that 19 other states “have introduced legislation to either halt or replace Common Core.”

This issue won’t go away when students head home for summer vacation next month. The presidential candidates will have to declare themselves. Labor will pressure  Hillary Clinton to at least hedge any support for testing, and it is increasingly difficult to imagine a Republican nominee who hasn’t distanced himself from Common Core.

Prof. Greene thinks the administration’s education agenda has crossed the wrong voters. “They’re going to lose,” he said, citing White House hubris and overreach. “You can’t beat organized upper-middle-class people. They will fight back and you will lose.”

While I agree that the soccer moms are winning, I wouldn’t say it is just the upper middle class who is pushing back against Common Core and assessments.  Needless to say opting out of assessments is the next phase of fighting against Common Core, especially in states where the legislature has failed to act.  It is clear the soccer moms have the momentum.

NJEA Says PARCC Refusals Exceed 40,000 Students

new-jersey-state-flagFrom the New Jersey Education Association reports on their website that the movement to refuse the PARCC assessment given this spring topped 40,000 students.

They note that the numbers are estimates in some cases that is based on the best available from about 200 districts.  They state that the final numbers won’t be known immediate the information they have been able to gather shows that the refusal to take PARCC was a “major phenomenon” across New Jersey.

They also report that in Cherry Hill, NJ as many as 2,500 students refused to take PARCC.  Freehold, Livingston and West Orange all report at least 1,000 student refusals to take PARCC.

They have numbers broken down by county here.

Schools’ Bad Behavior Toward Parents Seeking Assessment Opt-Out

assessment-opt-outIt seems that some schools are not handling parents seeking to opt their students out of assessments, in particular Common Core-aligned assessments, very well.

I reported on Friday at Caffeinated Thoughts that a California mom, Katherine Duran,  was literally “suspended” from her school for 14 days after a brief conversation with her son’s principal.  She tried to reclaim assessment packets her 12-year-old son gave out that were deemed “inappropriate” by the principal and confiscated.  The principal, Rosario Guillen, claimed Duran was physically aggressive.  Duran denies that ever occurred.

After the “suspension” Duran claims her son continued to be harassed when he brought more packets to school.

“In the school’s repeated attempts to block the information from being disseminated to the kids on campus, my son has been abused, his right to distribute leaflets on campus violated, his opt out forms confiscated. When he returned each day with more, the kids who had previously had their forms and letters confiscated received replacements, only to have them confiscated, yet again. My son was removed from class, double-teamed and harassed by the principal and another teacher, his lunch pail searched, his friends made to fear taking the forms and another kid forced to open his backpack in search of this ‘offensive, inappropriate material,’” Duran shared.

Duran alleges that her son was denied classroom instruction several times throughout the ordeal this week and last, once when he was pulled out for 90 minutes (on Tuesday 3/26/14),  while he was interrogated and intimidated, the principal double-teaming him with another teacher trying to get him to hand over his stack of forms.

Read the rest.

Joy Pullmann writes at School Reform News that an Ohio mom claims her kids were targeted by their School Superintendent over her opting her children out from Common Core-aligned assessments.

Last week, Sarah Lewis sent Celina City Schools Superintendent Jesse Steiner a letter asking to opt her children out of Common Core tests.

Wednesday morning, Steiner emailed Lewis a letter refusing to excuse her children from anything at school, then visited her kids’ school, demanding to have them weighed and measured because their principal had allowed them to opt out from an earlier body-mass index screening.

“[O]n the recommendation of legal counsel, I am rejecting your request for your child to ‘Opt Out’ of any and all testing,” he wrote. “Your child will be expected to follow the same educational procedures as the rest of the student body.”

This meant pulling the Lewis kids out in front of the class Wednesday and taking their weight and height, days after all the other kids had done so and after Principal Dan Pohlman had told Lewis they could be excused. No one notified Lewis of the reversal until the kids came home Wednesday, upset.

“They were singled out and weighed and measured,” Lewis said. “They were humiliated.”

Read the rest.

If you have a story of a similar incident email or share in the comments below.