Press-Republican

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February 9, 2014

Families preparing to snub exams

Parents may opt children out of standardized tests

PLATTSBURGH — Acts of civil disobedience are planned for classrooms around the country this April, Margarita Garcia-Notario told Plattsburgh City School Board members.

Parents concerned with education reforms and increased standardized testing have started refusing to allow their children to take the annual state exams given in third through eighth grade.

“Today, many of our children are highly stressed because the amount of testing has become shamefully unacceptable,” she said at the recent meeting.

FORM LETTER

Garcia-Notario serves as president of Stafford Middle School’s Family School Organization and as co-president of Plattsburgh High School’s Community School Organization.

Documents distributed by those groups to area parents and provided to the Press-Republican describe the strategy of the protest.

Parents are given a form letter that can be sent to local educators and school administrators. The letter says that their children are to be placed in the “refusal” category as described in the 2013-14 New York State Student Information Repository System Manual.

A student marked as a refusal is not the same as one marked as absent, the letter explains. Absent students are given the test again at a later date, while refusal pupils will continue with normal classroom activities during any retesting dates.

‘STRONG VOICE’

Garcia-Notario emphasized that the protests are not directed toward the local school administrators or educators but intended to send a message to state and federal legislators.

“We understand that by refusing these exams we are sending a strong voice to our legislators and telling them we like our schools, we like what they’re doing, and this program is hurting,” she said.

Among the details of the Common Core program that Garcia-Notario criticized were the use of state examination results in evaluating teacher performance and the restrictions of classroom lesson plans to fit only the questions asked on the standardized exams.

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