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The New York Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department remain firmly committed to the testing regime that has aroused so much parent rebellion and produced no gains on NAEP for 20 years. The state always finds good news in the test scores, but NAEP has been consistently flat.
Opt outs declined by a percentage point, but still nearly one of every five eligible students did not take the tests.
Federal law (the “Every Student Succeeds Act”) says that parents have the right to opt out if their state permits it, but at the same time requires that every school must have a 95% participation rate or face sanctions–a flat contradiction.
New York has not yet clarified how it intends to punish the high-performing schools on Long Island where half the students didn’t take the tests.
This article appeared in Newsday, the main newspaper on Long Island.
The number of students boycotting state tests has declined slightly statewide, but Long Island remains a stronghold of the opt-out movement, state officials announced Wednesday.
The state Education Department, in a media advisory, said the percentage of students in grades three through eight opting out of exams last spring dipped to 18 percent, down from 19 percent in 2017 and 21 percent in 2016. Tests, which are mandated by federal law, cover English Language Arts and mathematics.
The advisory provided no specific percentage for Nassau and Suffolk counties, but did note that the bicounty region “remains the geographic area with the highest percentage of test refusals in both mathematics and ELA.” Newsday’s own surveys of Island districts last spring found boycott rates of nearly 50 percent.
Among students who took the tests statewide, 45.2 percent scored at the proficient level in English, and 44.5 percent in math, the education department reported. Agency officials said results could not be compared with those from prior years because the format of last spring’s tests was sharply revised.
Total testing days in the spring were reduced to four, down from six in prior years, in an effort to provide some relief for parents and teachers who had complained the assessments were too stressful.
New York’s opt-out movement has proved the biggest and most enduring in the nation. The movement first appeared on Long Island in 2013, then exploded statewide two years later, and has remained especially strong in Nassau and Suffolk, and in some suburbs of Westchester County and the Buffalo area.
On the Island, more than 90,000 students in grades three through eight refused to take the state English Language Arts exam in April, representing nearly 50 percent of those eligible, according to Newsday’s survey of Island districts at the time.
Across New York, the number of students boycotting the state tests from 2015 through 2017 has hovered near 200,000 of 1 million eligible pupils in each of the past three years.