A Growing Common Stand Against Common Core Reply

From The Poughkeepsie Journal

Full story at http://poughkeepsiejournal.com/

NINA SCHUTZMAN

POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL

Thousands of Dutchess County students chose not to take the Common Core-aligned state assessments this week, a number that has skyrocketed since last year.

Ten of Dutchess’13 public school districts provided the Journal with some information about this year’s English Language Arts test refusal rates, which began on Tuesday for grades 3-8. More than 20 percent of students refused at a majority of Dutchess districts.

The trend is true across New York, with at least 100,000 students who refused the first day of the state’s standardized tests, according to United to Counter, an activist group which opposes the Common Core education standards.

In addition to the ELA tests, math tests start April 22. In general, more students refused math than ELA in 2014, school officials said.

The state’s top education officials have urged parents to allow their children to take the tests, arguing that they provide important information about how kids are performing.

In Dover, 21 percent of middle school students and 27 percent of elementary students refused the test, said Superintendent Mike Tierney. In 2014, six students refused the test. In Pine Plains, 42 percent of middle school students and 37 percent of elementary students refused, said Superintendent Martin Handler. In 2014, no more than a dozen students refused the test. Poughkeepsie’s numbers stayed steadiest, though in certain schools, refusal rates “are much larger than what we saw last year,” said Superintendent Nicole Williams. Of district schools, only G.W. Kreiger had a significant refusal percentage at 15 percent. Numbers from 2014 were not immediately available.

In Red Hook, “our numbers are roughly double what they were last year,” with a 20 percent refusal rate in the intermediate school and a 33 percent rate in the middle school, said Superintendent Paul Finch.

Nearly 9 percent of Rhinebeck’s elementary students and 17 percent of its middle school students refused the ELA test this year, said Superintendent Joseph Phelan. In 2014, less than 3 percent of students refused the tests.

In Webutuck, about 32 percent of students refused the ELA test this year, said Superintendent Ray Castellani, who added that the state should reexamine the situation, and see if there’s another alternative or compromise when it comes to state tests. Hyde Park officials reported they didn’t have complete information, while Millbrook and Pawling officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

On Monday, the Dutchess County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution to show support for the Common Core Parental Refusal Act, which has been introduced in both the state Senate and Assembly, said Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison via statement. Among other things, the law would ensure school districts notify parents that students “may refuse to participate in” all state testing aligned with the Common Core or provided by Pearson Incorporated.

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