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Why Parents Are Pulling Children Out of Common Core Tests

It's testing time for New York students, but thousands of New York parents are refusing to have their children take the statewide  assessments being given this week

Students in grades 3 through 8 started on the  the statewide English language arts assessments Tuesday. They'll spend a little under 1 1/2 hours a day for three consecutive days, finishing Thursday.

The statewide math assessments are scheduled for April 30 through May 2.

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East Aurora HS Teacher Todd Hathaway,
  a dissenting member of Gov. Cuomo's Common Core Task Force

Regent Robert Bennett

Groups compiling numbers from around the state estimate that more than 25,000 of the more than 1 million students in the testing pool are skipping this week's tests. Long Island is seeing the highest opt-out numbers.

Depending on the district, students are either quietly reading during the daily 70- to 80-minute sessions or at their desks doing nothing. Locally, some districts like WIlliamsville for example will have students read, but not take, the tests.

This is the second year that the assessments will be based on the Common Core  Learning Standards adopted by most states. The new standards emphasize critical thinking, reading comprehension and writing.

As the tests have gotten more difficult, the stakes have gotten higher. New York now requires that annual teacher evaluations take into account student performance on the assessments.

 Some parents say New York puts too much emphasis on testing and that they'll have their kids skip them.

Thousands of New York parents are refusing to have their children take the statewide English assessments being given this week.

Heidi Indelicato pulled her son out of testing in Lancaster Central Schools.

"They simply dropped enriching curriculum, math facts they should be learning and mastering, and switched to long reading passages that were above my son's reading level," says Indelicato. "My son is a good reader, but I notice these passages were difficult for any third grader." She adds her son was also getting frustrating.

She says the tests are developed by businessmen who do not know the developmental abilities of children. No one seems to have access to them.

"These tests are sealed up right after the kids are done. Teachers can't see them, I can't see them, and without them, I can't determine his strenghts or his weaknesses," contends Indelicato.

Indelicato adds students needed more time to get through questions on homework assignments, and "it's not a good assessment of the children of the entire school year."

She says questions on her child's homework questions are often  vague, and have different answers, "and if you don't give the answer they're looking for, it's marked wrong. The district says if the child doesn't understand the question, circle it and return it."

Indelicato is also concerned about how the tests are linked to teacher evaluations. "Teachers become stressed out about that, and it creates a lot of tension between the student and teacher, and I think it takes away from the joy of learning," says Indelicato.
  Shirley Verrico pulled her daughter out of tests in the Williamsville School District, quoting a report from the National Research Council.

"Despite being used for several decades, test-based incentives have not consistently brought positive effects on students. They do not improve education," says Verrico.

She says this is a large-scale standardized test, not designed to determine how one student knows about a single curriculum.

"It's one year's fourth grade class' results compared to last year's and they're misusing the information coming from it," claims Verrico.

She adds they're also rating individual students as either proficient or deficient and puts too much pressure on them, as young as eight.

Verrico says it's frustrating to see the curriculum narrowed under common core. Her daughter is reading one novel all year, with the emphasis on short passages because they are on the test.

"The tests are meaningless, I believe my children will be successful. They believe in education, and I believe these tests are undermining it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says parents and students can exhale knowing that the second round of Common Core aligned test scores will not be included on student's permanent transcripts under the new budget deal.

The new standards in English and math designed to improve college and career readiness have been criticized by some parents who say that the roll-out was done too fast and from educators claiming that they weren't given sufficient material and guidance to teach the new standards.

Under the budget passed Monday night, scores  on Common Core-aligned tests for students from third to eighth grade would remain off their transcripts through 2018 and school districts would be prevented from using the scores  as the sole way for determining student placement.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino says he will pull his children from New York's Common Core tests this week, claiming the new academic standards are turning children into guinea pigs.

The Westchester County executive on Monday released a video on his campaign website saying he and his wife are protesting Common Core by opting out of the exams this week for their children in third and fifth grade.

Astorino calls the standards "Cuomo's Common Core" and says New York's parents and teachers will lose local control over classrooms.

Cuomo has been a critic of the Common Core rollout. The budget being debated by the Legislature Monday will keep Common Core test scores off the transcripts of students in third through eighth grades through 2018.


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People : Heidi IndelicatoShirley Verrico
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