A record number of students in New York opted out of statewide standardised tests this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The roughly 20% of opt-outs quadrupled from the previous year, and indicated that the movement to boycott the tests linked to the Common Core standards had some success.
In April, at the start of New York’s standardised testing cycle, there were estimates that huge numbers of parents were set to boycott standardised tests. Those estimates have now been confirmed with about 200,000 of the approximated 1.1 million eligible test-takers refusing to take the exams.
The opt-outs follow a year of acrimony between proponents and critics of the standardised tests.
Parents across the state voiced their frustration over the implementation of the Common Core, voicing concerns that the tests contain puzzling questions and that too much of their children’s valuable time in the classroom is taken up by preparing for tests.
And Karen Magee, the president of New York State United Teachers — the largest teachers union in the state — urged for a mass opt-out of Common Core testing in March, sparking criticism from advocates of the standardised testing.
Magee, for her part, claimed the tests are not “valid indicators of student progress” and that they exist only to punish teachers, according to the New York Daily News, which reported on her appearance on upstate public radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom.” Diagnostic tests conducted by teachers are an alternative and one she sees as more beneficial to students and teachers, she said.
But Critics — including Merryl Tisch, the Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents — fear encouraging parents to opt out of Common Core testing could result in the loss of federal funds to schools and districts that don’t hit 95% participation levels.
This poses a more dire problem if schools that receive Title 1 funding — federal supplemental funding for at-risk and low-income students — don’t hit participation requirements.
The students opting out were concentrated in suburban and rural areas, and were heavily from average need districts that under-performed on the 2014 test, according to High Achievement New York (HANY), a nonprofit coalition of business and education groups.
That is a harmful trend for students in districts that need additional help, HANY claims.
As for the issue of Title 1 funding, the implications, and potential punishments, will become more clear for districts in time.
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