More students than expected opting out across the North Fork

Mattituck-Cutchogue School District residents gathered Wednesday at the elementary school for a Common Core presentation. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)
The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District held a Common Core meeting last month at the elementary school. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Some local schools saw unexpected surges in the number of students declining to participate Tuesday in the first of three days of state English Language Arts assessments.

What’s known as the opt-out movement is being pushed by parents, and educators statewide continue to protest so-called high-stakes testing tied to the controversial Common Core State Standards.

The Southold School District reported that 101 students opted out of Tuesday’s state English Language Arts assessments, including 73 from the elementary school and 28 from the junior and senior high schools, said Jennifer Bruer, a district secretary.


Those numbers mean that 34 percent of elementary students and 22 percent at higher grade levels opted out.

In an interview last week, Southold Superintendent David Gamberg said the district had expected only “a couple of students to sit out of the exam.”

Fewer than 10 students in his district opted out of the assessments last year, he said.

New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill said none of New Suffolk’s students opted out of the exam.

Numbers from the other districts within Southold Town weren’t immediately available.

One Greenport parent whose daughter chose to opt out said she thinks officials may be surprised by the number of children who opt out in that district.

Sandy Martocchia, a former special education teacher, said her 12-year-old daughter Courtney was joined in a classroom Tuesday by about a dozen other students who had declined to take the test.

“I had been talking to her the last month because they were doing a lot of test prep in her class during the month of March, and that was disturbing to me,” Ms. Martocchia said. “I gave her a letter and said, ‘This is up to you. You may have to take a Regents exam, even an SAT, but the test that you’re taking today doesn’t count. I’m never going to hear the results, you’re not going to hear the results and neither is your teacher. It doesn’t teach us anything about you and how you learn.’”

As of last week, Greenport and Mattituck-Cutchogue officials said they’d been notified by parents that one student in each district would decline to take Tuesday’s English Language Arts tests.

Oysterponds officials said they did not expect any student opt-outs.

The state math assessments are scheduled for April 30–May 2.

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