About 180 North Fork students opt out of ELA assessments


North Fork school districts have tallied the number of students who declined to participate in last week’s state English Language Arts assessments and expect at least the same volume of refusals — or more — for the upcoming math version of the exams, which are scheduled for April 30–May 2.

Mattituck-Cutchogue School District assistant superintendent Anne Smith said 43 students didn’t take the ELA assessments in the district. There were 592 students in grades 3-8 eligible to take those exams, she said.

“We were expecting fewer based on conversations and inquiries,” Ms. Smith wrote in an email. “The numbers went up on Friday and Monday prior to the Tuesday start date. All parents communicated a positive relationship with their children’s teachers and many let us know that they felt after parent conferences that they had enough information to determine that their child is making progress from classroom and district assessments.”

Ms. Smith said her district expects at least the same amount of students, or slightly more, to opt out of the upcoming math assessments because parents indicated as such on refusal letters. North Fork parents and students have also been more vocal at various public meetings this school year about their concerns over the new math standards due to rigorous new curriculum.

In Greenport, 35 of 269 students refused to sit for the exams, or 13 percent of students, officials there said.

Southold School District David Gamberg said Tuesday he also anticipates that at least the same amount of students in his district will refuse to take the math assessments. As for last week’s ELA tests, Mr. Gamberg said 101 of 361 eligible students, or 28 percent, opted out.

Mr. Gamberg, one of the more outspoken high-stakes testing critics among superintendents in the region, said he believes the restoration of trust in public education needs to be the new focus and that efforts to collaborate among teachers should be encouraged, as opposed to creating a competitive atmosphere.

“It is not your grandmother’s test,” he said, referring to state-mandated testing tied to teacher evaluations. “We have to build relations and learn from one another.”

Oysterponds and New Suffolk school district officials reported that none of their students opted out of the ELA assessments.

[email protected]