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Amid Standardized Testing Discussion, Kings Park Parents Debate 'Opting Out'

However, school attorney group says state law does not provide that option for students.

While parents in Kings Park debate the value of standardized tests for elementary and middle school students, the conversation has focused around one key question.

Can parents choose to not have their children take these tests, known as "opting out"?

The term refers to the question of whether parents can choose to have their children in grades 3 through 8 not take the upcoming state standardized tests, which are designed to measure proficiency in English and math based on the new "common core" school curriculum. The common core curriculum, adopted by 42 states so far, is a national standard to align student learning and better prepare them for college and careers.

On Facebook, a handful of "opt out" groups have formed, like this one here, in which parents share information, resources, opinions and anecdotes regarding the idea that their children can refuse to participate in the testing. However, according to this article published by the New York State Association of School Attorneys, New York State education law does not allow for opting out of the tests except in certain special education circumstances.

Supporters of the "opt out" movement say the testing is too stressful for kids and it takes away valuable classroom time that could be spent focusing on the curriculum rather than on test prep. Some also say the lower passing scores will lead to low self-esteem in students who may feel upset for performing "poorly" on the tests.

Via the Kings Park Patch Facebook page, community members had this to say:

Irene Davis-Gilbert is an educator and a mother of a student who has to take the tests.

“I am with a group of educators as we speak discussing that exact topic,” she said. “Personally, as an educator, and a parent I don't agree with the way these tests are constructed (270 minutes and sometimes more) not to determine reading comprehension, rather what we do with the information once we have read something.”

As a mother she also worries about the effect the tests have on her daughter.

“As a mom, I comforted my third grader just last night,” Davis-Gilbert  said. “She's paranoid about the exams. Should I opt her out, or not? I lose sleep each night debating that. It won't benefit her either way!”

Daniel Mcdonald said testing needs to be done but can be administered differently.

“Life is all about being tested whether a reading exam or the tests of being an adult, a spouse, a parent,” Mcdonald said. “Personally I don’t think there is enough testing. However, I do believe that the way in which we test should be altered to remove the anxieties of test taking to provide accurate assessments of our children.”

Krista A. Briggs does not agree.

“Standardized testing is hardly an authentic means of assessment,” she said. “That a student is a poor test-taker does not necessarily mean that the test-taker is a poor student. Let's stop teaching to the test and employ genuine, creative methods of learning. There are myriad methods of assessment. Let's explore a variety of means and nurture a real love of learning -- in the classroom and beyond.”

“It needs to change,” said Doris Meme Ligotti. “Let our taxes go to educating the children not bowing to an antiquated testing method that proves nothing.”

Laura Gennett Scott agreed with Briggs.

“They need to assess the students, but it doesn't have to be with standardized tests that stress the kids out.”

A meeting on the topic of standardized testing – which will feature discussion by retired educators, school attorneys and the founder of one of the "opt out" Facebook pages – is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Willow Creek Golf and Country Club in Mount Sinai.

What's your take on student testing? Do you support the idea that parents should be allowed to opt out of the testing for their children? Log in to Patch and share your thoughts as a comment below.

kptree April 11, 2013 at 06:08 PM
It's true- parents do NOT have the right to "opt-out" their children from the NYS assessments. However, the child can "refuse" to take the test. That means the child has to 1. state "I refuse" or "I will not take the test". 2. The child cannot write anything on the test booklet 3. Must be willing to sit for the test period because school districts are not obligated to allow them to read, leave the room, or do another activity. School district personnel are also allowed to try to convince the student to take the test. They are permitted to ask the student, as many times as they would like, to comply. The burden is on your child to refuse and to hold fast. I don't know if I am willing to ask my child to do that.
Stevo April 11, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Just call him in sick that day!
Kevin April 11, 2013 at 10:11 PM
It is 6 days long...
Mark April 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Don't we fight wars to prevent this type of behavior. The people in government that allowed this to happen have almost no education background do the research. This is beyond absurd
Mark April 12, 2013 at 12:19 PM
If you can have your child refuse to take the test this will help change it back because the state will not be able to accumulate the necessary data. Opt out
Mark April 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM
I'm going to plan a family vacation to Disney that week
KP Mom April 12, 2013 at 01:28 PM
More time needs to be spent on the curriculm for these children and less time preparing for these tests. More emphasis needs to be on writing, reading, grammer and the basics needed for their future. Parents are frustrated with the the amount of time spent on preparing for these tests and teachers are run ragged trying to get all of the preparation in for these tests as well as curriculm. We can all voice how we feel but unfortunately it falls on deaf ears.
Erik Carlson April 12, 2013 at 02:01 PM
STRESS. It goes up with every generation. Point is, we are STRESSING children out younger and younger and pushing teachers harder to achieve what? More stressed out kids. Over 100 years this country ran very successfully with a different system of education, child development, etc.(YES we do have to change with the times and technology). However, we still managed to have a great and prosperous country. Where is my child's childhood is going? He is like an adult with an agenda, a morning meeting, development, special pull out training, more development, athletic time, a short lunch break with sub par food supplied, after work- athletic development & artistic development, oh and home work. My 11 year old "works" from 7.45am until 9pm. He needs an assistant! What will this bring him? Prozac at 16? Hypertension at 20? I just find it INSANE to administer the SAME exam, graded the SAME for all children. How can you grade a brilliant 4th grader the same as an inclusion 4th grader??? That is unfair. Who does this impact the most, the young students struggling, the teacher busting his or her bottom trying everything to help children achieve. In return, that extra stress is felt at the child and teachers home: due to extra $$ tutoring, teachers they always take their work home with them, for hours every night and emotionally 24/7. So it impacts all of us, emotionally, spiritually, and economically. The testing is unfair and there is NO way to justify it.
CAB April 12, 2013 at 04:18 PM
@Erik Carlson WELL SAID! I would like to add that my children are 5 years apart, so the older child did not have any of the standardized tests, whereas the younger did. They had the same teacher(s) in grades 3 & 4. What was covered in the classroom for the older child compared to the younger was miles more. There was no "teaching to the test" The teacher was less stressed, and there was more hands on learning time needed by young students. My younger child seemed to always be taking "a test" and never doing projects, or "enhancement" work to enforce what they are learning, which is how young children learn and react to what they've learned. I was upset at the lack of "childhood" afforded him as well. However they were both excellent students and excelled nontheless, as one is in Med School and one a lawyer. I was a stay-at-home mom, who insisted on "extra" work at home that reinforced what they were doing in school, and summer "on the lawn" sessions that addressed what the upcoming year would bring. At least through early middle school while I could still get away with it :) I worked with the teachers, and got involved in the classrooms through reading programs, scholastic book program, writing programs, and whatever else was available where I could help. I understand a working parent cannot do as much, but letting your child know you are supportive, and not forming a wedge between home and school is paramount.
Stevo April 12, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Go on vacation that week.
Stevo April 12, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Absolutely agree!! My son has up to 2 hours of homework on some nights. By the time he goes to bed he is totally exhausted.
Jm April 12, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Erik is 100% correct.Kids today lack the ability to spell, study correctly,etc.Teachers teach for a test... Taking away their real ability which is to teach our kids not prepare them for a test.Stress for kids, parents and teachers. I was in school in the 70's and 80's and we all seemed to do fine without these tests!
Everybody Gets a Trophy April 12, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Throw them all out, the SAT exams, ACT, LRE's, GMATs, Police exam, Bar exam, CPA exam, Professional Engineer exam, Nursing Boards, etc. this way nobody will be stressed, and everybody gets a trophy.
KP Mom April 15, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Well Said Eric, you should run for the board. The comment made in one of the posts referring to how much a stay at home parent does vs. the working parent is inappropriate. Unless you have walked in the shoes of others, please keep those comments to yourself.
Stevo April 15, 2013 at 02:35 PM
We're talking about very young kids here, not adults. You sound like someone who never got a trophy!!
CAB April 15, 2013 at 04:47 PM
@KP Mom unless i missed something, I believe we do have the right to free speech, and my comments are as allowed here as much as yours are. People are allowed to agree or disagree but not prohibit others from expressing theirs.
CAB April 15, 2013 at 04:54 PM
@ KP Mom I also find it amusing that that's what you took away from my comment, and not the facts expressed regarding the difference 5 years and added tests made in the school curriculum, and teachers stress levels. That actually confirmed what you had said in a earlier comment. Maybe if you focused on the facts and not the chip on your shoulder your voice would be heard.

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