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February 26, 2014

City School to accommodate test refusals

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh City School District will accommodate students whose parents opt them out of April’s state exams.

The children will be allowed to read quietly in a separate space from where the standardized tests are administered, according to City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short.

At the School Board’s Jan. 23 meeting, Plattsburgh parent Margarita Garcia-Notario told the board that a large group of parents across the state, including the North Country, intend to refuse the state’s third-through-eighth-grade tests on their children’s behalf.

Many feel the assessments, which were rolled out last spring and are based on the state-mandated Common Core Learning Standards, are excessive and unfair to students, as well as teachers, whose performance evaluations are tied to exam scores.

‘SIT AND STARE’

Garcia-Notario, who is also president of Stafford Middle School’s Family School Organization and co-president of Plattsburgh High School’s Community School Organization, asked that children who are opted out be treated with respect during exam times.

“We’re going to create a respectful environment within our school to be able to manage that,” Short told attendees of the board’s next meeting.

Some schools, he noted, have employed a method known as “sit and stare,” which “is the expression of making students sit in front of a blank sheet of paper or a test and stare at it for an hour and a half because their mother or father told them not to take the test.

“We’re not going to do that,” Short said. “It’s inhumane.”

New York State United Teachers also recently condemned the “sit and stare” method, which, according to a media release from the union, has been adopted by at least 15 Long Island districts and, reportedly, others in the state.

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