The superintendent of the Greenport and Southold school districts has issued a letter to parents outlining what they’ll need to do if they don’t want their children to take this year’s state assessments.
During the Greenport school board’s Monday night meeting, Superintendent David Gamberg said the letter aims to better organize and streamline paperwork for students refusing the test, a movement known as “opting out.”
Although he’s still working out details with administrators about what happens to students who refuse to take the exams on test days, Mr. Gamberg said students won’t be forced to “sit and stare,” which occurs when students who are not taking a test are made to just stare at a desk while the test is administered to others, rather than being allowed to read a book or move to another classroom.
“I still have to discuss this with the administrators, but essentially we’ll allow the children to read quietly,” he said. “The location is still subject to discussion and I’m doing the same thing in Southold.”
When asked what parents need to do if they don’t want their children to take the assessments, Mr. Gamberg, an outspoken opponent of Common Core testing, said a checklist was included in the letter he sent home to parents. [Scroll down to read the forms]
On its Facebook page, the Southold PTA has shared a pre-made refusal letter drafted by NYS Allies for Public Education, a community group comprised of parents and community members from across the state.
The group’s letter explains that “refusal” will be scored differently from “absent” since those actions are not the same.
Last year, North Fork school district officials reported that a total of 256 students declined to participate in the state-mandated math assessments — 77 more than the number of those who opted out of the English Language Arts assessments.
In Greenport, 276 students were eligible to take the math assessments and 71 did not. That’s an increase of 36 opt-outs compared to the ELA assessments.
Southold had 115 of 347 eligible students opt out of the math assessments. That’s 12 more refusals than the district received for the ELA assessments.
Mattituck-Cutchogue School District reported that 592 students in grades 3 through 8 were expected to take the test, but 70 refused. By comparison, only 43 students in that district opted out of the ELA exam.
No students in the Oysterponds or New Suffolk elementary school districts opted out of either assessment last year.
According the state education department’s website, grades 3-8 are schedule to take ELA assessments April 14-16 and math exams April 22-24.