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April 8, 2014

Area schools: Many have opted out of tests

Oneonta City and Worcester Central were the two local school districts most affected by a movement to have students opt out of standardized testing in grades 3-8, several people interviewed said Monday. The effect on the two schools is yet to be determined, their superintendents said.

The English Language Arts tests were given statewide April 1-3, and upcoming state math tests are scheduled for April 30 and May 1-2, parents interviewed said.

With the rollout of the Common Core curriculum in New York and related initiatives involved with securing federal Race to the Top funding, groups were formed in the Oneonta and Worcester area to educate parents and teachers about the ramifications of the initiatives, parents and educators said.

The Common Core has been adopted by more than 40 states. Its troubled rollout in New York by the state Education Department has prompted action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to address the issue.

Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, has written federal legislation to address some of the problems including “high-stakes, burdensome overtesting,” and giving teachers more flexibility and students more time to learn, according to a media release from his office.

According a report by WABC, roughly 28,000 of the state’s 1.2 million students in grades 3-8 chose to opt out of the tests.

In Oneonta, about 150 of the 750 who were eligible opted out, Superintendent Joseph Yelich said, adding that he didn’t know how many were out sick during that time. It was a strong statement but its impact remains to be seen, he said. To meet federal requirements, 95 percent of students must be tested.

Having been notified by many of those involved that they would not be taking the test, the district looked for guidance from the state beforehand but none was offered, Yelich said. He expects to have a better idea of the impact by the end of the school year.

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