“I understand the parents’ position,” Yelich said, but he added that there needs to be some way to see what students are learning. He will be working with principals and teachers to make sure students get help when needed, he said.
“I don’t want to lose sight of that,” he said. The state will have to decide how to proceed, but if there isn’t enough participation, he said, the tests aren’t statistically valuable. He said he isn’t sure where that threshold is, but that line was crossed in the April testing.
Kjersti VanSlyke-Briggs, a SUNY Oneonta education professor, is an organizer of Oneonta Area for Public Education, which has been involved with the issues. Earlier in the school year, the organization sponsored forums on such subjects as opting out of standardized testing, Common Core and other issues stemming from federal funding.
“I thought it was a fabulous start,” she said of the numbers that opted out. “We have a long way to go. We need to let parents know that have a right to be involved in their children’s education.”
Opting out is a statewide initiative that should show the state Education Department that it needs to rethink the weight it puts behind test scores and how they are used in teacher evaluations, she said. They need to go back and see how to better benefit public education, she said.
Oneonta parent Christiana Gomez-Frye said having her two children opt out was not simply an exercise, but rather a protest against the direction of public education, including the faulty implementation of Common Core. Since schools with high refusal numbers didn’t see a loss of funding last year, she said she wasn’t concerned about that. Instead “it was an opportunity to educate my children to further understand what it means to be a critical thinker.”