In response to a state mandate for students to meet English Language Arts and math requirements in schools, both teacher’s unions and parent-led groups have said thousands of students across the state will opt out of the exams April 14, due to the fact that they are not beneficial to students, and are unfairly tied to teacher evaluations, reports said.
The exams are scheduled to begin Tuesday, and the groups have predicted about a quarter of a million students, statewide, will decline to take the tests.
Reportedly, teachers unions, parents and educators have begun the opt-out movement in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent budget proposal to base 50 percent of teacher evaluations on student test results.
As a result, according to district officials, over 50 percent of parents in Fairport have decided to allow their children to opt-out of taking the tests. In addition, Pittsford’s opt-out rate is currently at 16 percent; Greece is at 12 percent; and Spencerport is at 30 percent, reports said.
The Rochester City School District has not yet released the number of students who have decided not to take the tests.
Meanwhile, teachers unions across the state, including New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the Rochester Teacher Association, have spoken out in support of the opt-out movement.
“Parents are refusing to subject their children to pointless tests that only serve the interests of politicians and profiteers, while robbing kids of precious learning time,” said RTA president Adam Urbanski. “And that is why the RTA Representative Assembly, in a unanimous vote, adopted a resolution supporting the parents’ right to shield their children from such exploitation.”
Urbanski held a press conference Friday, urging parents to allow their children to opt out of taking the tests.
Conversely, Rochester City School District Superintendent Bolgen Vargas released the following statement regarding the matter:
“Our teachers and students are working hard, and the state tests are one important measure, among many, that allow them to demonstrate improved achievement. Just like the superintendents in Brighton and Pittsford, I believe in our district’s children, and I want them to take the assessments so that we can see the progress they are making.”
In addition, proponents of the tests have said parents should allow their students to participate in the exams, in order to avoid state sanctions, including the withholding of funds, from the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
According to NYSED, 95 percent of students need to take the tests in order for districts to accurately calculate the results.