What are schools doing with students opting out of Common Core tests?

Posted at: 04/16/2013 8:52 PM
By: Ray Levato

Elementary and junior high school students around the state are taking the new Common Core tests all week. But those tests come with a lot of controversy.

Some parents don't want their children to take them because they haven't been taught all the subject manner. And there is confusion with what schools are to do with students whose parents have opted them out of the exams.
The New York State Education Department says all students are expected to participate in these tests. But that's not stopping some parents from refusing. A school principal in at least one district, Honeoye Falls-Lima, told parents of kids not taking the test that they would have to sit silent while the test was being given. The parents say that would be a form of punishment.

The parents of eight-year-old Hayden Koch,  a third grader, and his 10-year-old sister, Olivia, a fifth grader, have decided that the kids will not take the new Common Core standardized state tests.

Their father, Scott, is a teacher who is studying for his doctorate in education. He describes himself as an activist. Koch echoes what many educators have complained about, that the state rolled out this new test way too fast, and teachers were not given the time or the right materials to prepare their students.
But what really irked Koch and his wife was the school principal informing them that their kids would be required to sit quietly at their desks as for long as an hour.

Scott Koch said, “They will force students to sit for 50 minutes and not allow them to do anything. They were not allowed to read, to doodle. They would not be allowed to do anything except sit in their chair. I felt it was punitive. And my wife and I framed the debate in terms of it being essentially an in-school suspension.”

But the Honeoye Falls-Lima superintendent says that was a misunderstanding and the district decided that kids who opted out would be allowed to bring reading material to occupy their time.

Gene Mancuso, HF-Lima School Superintendent, said, “I think the confusion was the state put in the manual the word "may." Students may read, and that was a new part of the protocol they had put in.”

News10NBC also wanted to know if districts could be penalized if enough children opt out. If less than 95% of students take the tests in the school at large and certain sub-groups within the school, the districts could lose certain state funding if it were to happen for two years in a row.

Checking with a handful of school districts, News10NBC found only a small number of students are not taking the new Common Core tests. For example, one in Fairport, three in Hilton, six in Honeoye Falls-Lima, eight in Churchville-Chili and eleven in the city of Rochester.