Hundreds of local students sit out for state testing

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - State testing in English and language arts (ELA) began Tuesday for grades three through eight in public schools.

But hundreds of local students did not take part.  Parents, concerned about overtesting and the benefits to their children, wrote refusal letters, enabling their children to decline to take the tests Tuesday.

The tests do not affect students' averages or grades, but rather, are used to measure their progress with the common core curriculum.  Local superintendents say therein lies the negative effects of large percentages of children refusing to take the tests.

"With a number of students not taking the assessments, districts don't get an accurate picture of how students are performing in terms of meeting standards. It makes it difficult with that percentage of students not participating," says Frankfort-Schuyler Superintendent Robert Reina.  Frankfort-Schuyler's eight refusal letters two weeks ago grew 10-fold to 80 by test day. 

Reina says he's heard a few different concerns from parents.

"There's concern about common core and they certainly tie in their concerns about testing with their concerns about common core. And also there's concern about the amount of testing that's involved in schools today," says Reina.

Many local school districts saw refusal letters grow exponentially as test day drew closer.  Utica had received 35 as of Friday. By Tuesday -- 99.  New Hartford's 100 refusal letters on Friday more than doubled to 251 Tuesday.  New York Mills had received 27 letters as of Friday and 40 as of Tuesday.  Whitesboro's 54 letters on Friday grew to 98 Tuesday. The Oneonta City School District received 124 refusal letters.

There are many myths circulating about possible financial repercussions if schools fall below the 95 percent of students taking the test that the state wants.

"There are accounts out there about financial impacts the state may impose based upon federal dollars, availability of federal dollars, things like that if time goes on," Reina said. "I really don't anticipate that happening."


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