Long Island represents one of the most densely populated areas of the United States, and one of the most populated areas by total numbers. Encompassing areas that make up some of the key residential and even political areas of the country, Long Island is often a good benchmark to use when looking at attitudes towards everything from pop culture, to education.
It seems fitting then that Long Island has been one of the key battlegrounds for the movement against common core testing. Earlier in 2017, it was reported that almost 100,000 students from the Long Island public school system had opted out of state English Language Arts exams. These students make up more than 50% of the total student body eligible for the exams. The region again made the news in March of this year, when more than 90,000 students opted out of Common Core math testing.
It is clear from the statistics that there is shared concern regarding standardized testing in New York State. Parents, teachers, and the students themselves, have openly spoken about a perceived lack of validity in the common testing. Opponents to Common Core also feel the standardized testing can take away the ability of schools to make important decisions for their curriculum, and that there are concerns over transparency when it comes to the test and how the results are used. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon, and there are examples across many states where local jurisdictions have resisted sweeping changes implemented by either state or federal organizations. When it comes to education, it is clear that parents and educators are not willing to stand by and allow for negative impacts on students, or the Long Island school system as a whole.
Any parent that considers opting children out of common core testing in the future, will need to know exactly what the consequences may be. This year, the New York State United Teachers union released a factsheet to educate parents and students on their rights regarding common core testing, as well as detailing any negative impact that could come from opting out of testing.
Should Parents Be Worried About Consequences for Their Children?
Opponents of Common Core testing in Long Island will be relieved to know that the actual academic impact on opting out, is minimal. State laws exist that prevent the recording of assessments for English Language Arts and Mathematics on a student’s permanent record. The protection will be enforced until the end of December 2018, and covers grades three through to eight. This provision means that any parents who opt their students out of Common Core assessments throughout 2017 or 2018, will not create negative consequences for their children.
In reality, school districts still record a code for students that will indicate the refusal to take a Common Core assessment. This is for verification and other calculations within the school system, but should not be used as a key indicator when it comes to academic placement. Districts may still use their “no valid test score” data for administrative purposes, but it should always be combined with multiple other quantifiable measures when planning a student’s educational pathway.
Parents should also be aware that teachers are limited in the advice that they can provide to children or their families. Despite their personal opinions on the Common Core testing system, teachers may not provide advice that is contrary to the district educational program, and may not encourage parents or teachers to opt out or Common Core testing. Doing so could result in disciplinary action, so it is adviced that students and parents make their decision without asking for specific input from teachers.
Common Core clearly has a feature in the educational system, but there are still multiple concerns raised by parents and educators alike. Parents and students who know their rights and obligations will be able to make informed decisions regarding engagement with Common Core tests in 2018