Test anxiety felt by students, parents

Posted at: 04/17/2013 6:27 PM
Updated at: 04/17/2013 6:28 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY - Maggie Irwin, a Saratoga County mother, said her third grade son is so stressed out about the state's standardized tests running this week and next week, she doesn't want him to take them.

"He has anxiety over it and, 'please mom, don't make me take the test,'" she said.

Irwin said her son's teachers have told the nine-year-old that they expect him to score high.

"The teachers have expressed that they expect him to receive on the state test which are all "4's" because of his intelligence and he feels overwhelmed that that pressure has been put on him," she said.

Irwin is among a growing number of parents who want their children to 'opt out' of the assessments in English language arts and math, with online campaigns on Facebook against the exams.

But when Irwin wrote a letter to her principal saying she intended to opt out, it didn't go over well.

"I received a letter from the Superintendent of the District, letting me know that it is not an option for my son or any of my children to opt out of state testing this year," she added.

Last week, The State Education Department released a video saying they full expect children to score lower on the exams, which are redesigned with new and tougher Common Core standards.

This week, the Commissioner and staff held a teleconference, with Associate Commissioner Ken Wagner saying, opting out is not an option.

"They can't opt out of science instruction or math instruction or whatnot. Opting out of students tests is simply not an option because it is part of the core instructional program," he said.

State ed leaders said school districts don't have to provide alternative instruction for students who refuse to take the exams.

And if a student doesn't come to school, the district could hold a make up exam.