Press-Republican

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April 15, 2013

Education officials discuss test opt out

(Continued)

OPTING OUT

While the state requires all public-school students in grades three through eight to take the tests, there are ways around it.

“If a student is absent and misses the test, there is no negative consequence, unlike a required Regents exam, (which) a student has to pass to graduate,” Ford said.

But while Deb is not in favor of Liv taking the exams, which will be administered to her third-grade class over several days, she also doesn’t want her daughter to have poor attendance.

Tom Dunn, a spokesperson for the New York State Education Department, told the Press-Republican that absences from all or part of the exams “should be managed consistent with the attendance policies of the district.”

Another way some avoid the tests, according to Ford, is for students to attend the exams but refuse to participate.

“The child sits in on the exam but refuses to open the book or answer questions,” he said. “They hand in a blank answer sheet. The school then bubbles in a section in the heading of the answer sheet as a ‘test refusal.’”

But Deb feels this option is also problematic, as she doesn’t think it right to advise her daughter to sit in class and defy her teacher’s instructions.

MEASUREMENTS

The goal of the tests, according to State Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins, is to ensure that all students are prepared for success in college and meaningful careers upon graduating high school.

“Parents who keep their children from taking these tests are essentially saying, ‘I don’t want to know where my child stands, in objective terms, on the path to college and career readiness’ — and we think that that’s doing them a real disservice,” Tompkins said in a written response to the Press-Republican.

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