No opt-out but Refuse

The truth regarding NYS test REFUSAL

Confusion seems to abound both in the Kingston City School District and throughout New York State as to a parent’s right to REFUSE the New York State tests for their grade 3-8 students as well as the potential consequences to students/teachers/schools if parents do REFUSE the tests.

lohud presented a summary of the problem/confusion in their editorial “Waiting for straight answers on testing” along with some answers they received.  They found the answers to not be terribly helpful but with the additional explanations below, some of them are a bit clearer.

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Paul Padalino exhorted parents to allow their students to participate in the state tests in the March 2015 KCSD newsletter and included statements labeled as myths and facts to frequently asked questions about the tests.  NYSAPE provided a response to the KCSD newsletter clarifying some inaccuracies regarding the amount of time students are allotted for the tests and reaffirming that some students (many of our students with IEPs) are likely to spend up to 9 hours each on the ELA and the math tests.  NYSAPE also goes into detail about what will happen in Kingston since we are a Focus District if we do not achieve 95% participation on the tests.  Basically Kingston will stay a Focus District regardless of how many parents refuse the test because we have not met the other criteria to get out of Focus District status. Read the NYSAPE document for the full explanation though.  I do want to point out that neither Dr. Padalino or NYSAPE makes any mention of the potential for money to be lost by Kingston City School District based on the number of parents who refuse the tests because there is no potential for money to be lost by KCSD based on the percentage of students who refuse the tests.

Unfortunately NYSSBA (New York State School Boards Association) missed the ‘no loss of funding’ memo and is advising school boards that there is potential for money to be lost by school districts based on low participation rate.  A document from NYSSBA containing untruth was presented to DWPC members last week.  If you received or heard about the NYSSBA document, be sure to read this response to the NYSSBA document from Diane Ravitch/Bianca Tanis.

The New York State Assembly has reaffirmed parents’ right to REFUSE the state tests in several ways recently.  The Common Core Parental Refusal Act legislation has been presented by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco affirming the right to refuse.  The legislation has not yet been passed but both parties in the assembly are supportive of the principle of the legislation – that parents have the right to REFUSE the state tests.  During NYS budget negotiations on March 31, 2015 Assemblywomen Nolan and Wozniak covered if parents in NYS can REFUSE the state tests (YES!), impact to teacher evaluations if lots of students REFUSE (not a problem) and if schools will lose funding due to lots of test REFUSALS (NO!) – video here.

NYSUT published a set of Q&As associated with test REFUSAL (they use the term ‘opt-out’ for some reason).  I am listing a couple of the questions.  Read the document for all of the Q&As.

Q: Will districts lose state aid if large numbers of students opt out?

A: Some school districts have provided parents with inaccurate information on the consequences of opting out. In fact, there should be no adverse consequences for students who opt out and districts should have no risk losing state aid even if large numbers of their students opt out.

Q: Does research support using student scores on standardized tests as a determinant of teacher effectiveness?

A. No. Educational experts from around the country increasingly agree that the overuse of standardized testing is harmful to education and that test results are not an accurate measure of student learning or of teacher quality. Nationally, states – including California, Texas and Tennessee – are moving away from over-reliance on these tests. Parents, teachers and school boards across New York state have asked Gov. Cuomo to do the same. The governor has responded by tying needed school funding to more than doubling the reliance on these tests.


REFUSE the state tests - April 2015

REFUSE the state tests – April 2015

NYSUT President, Karent Magee sent out a robo call to all teachers reaffirming that parents and teachers who are parents have the right to REFUSE the state tests.  The only problem was the use of ‘opt-out’ rather than REFUSE the tests.

Several weeks ago Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner of SED stated that there is no legal provision to “Opt-out” of state tests (3/24/15…/parents-question-common-core-opt-out-p…/)  which is true in New York State.  However parents have the right to REFUSE the tests for their children. The language used in this is vitally important to get right otherwise parents are being misinformed and facing backlash from their districts who can truthfully say that the parents cannot “Opt-out”.

I hope that you now feel confident in the TRUE FACTS associated with test REFUSAL and the TRUTH that REFUSING the state tests for your child in grades 3-8 will not cause adverse consequences for your child/teacher/school.Refuse ELA Test April 2015

If you have not already sent in a refusal letter and would like some help preparing the letter, check out NYS Allies for Public Education  or Stop Common in New York State.  You are also welcome to contact me directly by filling out the contact form below.  Just get your letter in as soon as possible and definitely by day 1 (Tuesday April 14, 2015) of testing.  Do NOT wait until day 2 or day 3 – read here for the problem with waiting until after day 1 of testing.