ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The “opt out” movement is growing across New York State. More parents are refusing to allow their kids to take standardized tests, but the federal government is trying to change that.
“Penalizing school districts and parents, families and kids for opting out of tests, which is their right, is incongruous with peoples’ rights,” said Joe Alati, a teacher with New York State United Teachers.
Some teachers and parents, Alati, believe the tests are poorly designed and do not directly affect graduation rates.
“There’s a lot of pressure to have kids do well on tests. And that testing is not necessarily learning,” Alati added.
The federal government wants to withhold federal funding from schools whose participation dips below 95%.
Now the State Education Department plans to look at district report cards and opt-out rates.
This is over a 2 year period before they make a determination on whether or not the district might need to create an improvement plan in order to improve the number of students that actually take the exams,” said Lori Orologio, Superintendent of Churchville-Chili Central School District.
“If that district is not showing improvement over time, the commissioner could come in and have a bOCES take over and work wit the district or the state come in and the school could go into receivership,” Orologio went onto say.
However, Orologio believes opt-out rates won’t be the only factor used to determine who would be targeted.
“It wouldn’t be just one area of not making 95% students making the exam it would be for multiple reasons and multiple lack of growth in ELA, Math, etc,” she said.
In response, NYSED told us their stance remains unchanged. there should be no financial penalties for schools with high opt out rates. Public comment ended on August 17th. Now, discussions with the board of regents continue until a final decision is made in the upcoming months.
If this does pass, funds would be set aside starting in the 2022-2023 school year. This would be for a school that has been below the 95% participation rate every year since 2017-18.