MASSENA - Approximately 5 percent of the eighth graders at J.W. Leary Junior High School in Massena did not take part in this weeks Common Core English language arts test.
State testing began Tuesday for English language arts, and Massena Central School Interim Superintendent William H. Flynn said parents of 21 out of the 470 students opted to keep their child from taking the tests.
Three students also opted out of testing for elementary students at Jefferson Elementary School, three opted out at Madison Elementary School and five opted out at Nightengale Elementary School.
Potsdam had 27 students opt out of taking the test, while St. Lawrence Central had five, Parishville-Hopkinton had two and Norwood-Norfolk had one. No students opted out at Colton-Pierrepont Central School.
Evelyn M. Fiske, Massenas director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said Massena students who were not taking the test were kept in separate locations from the testing sites.
If the child brought in a letter, they were kept in an alternate location. They were not brought to the testing site, she said.
They were supervised. I know that in some school districts the students were kept at the testing site. Our administrators elected to do it another way, Mr. Flynn said.
The Common Core program was designed to create national standards that would ensure students were college- or career ready by the time they graduated. But some parents, believing the curriculum and testing were implemented too quickly, opted not to have their child participate in this weeks test. The state Board of Regents in February delayed full implemented of Common Core standards because of the widespread frustration and anxiety about the tests.
Certainly we respect parents choices as it relates to their own child, Ms. Fiske said.
Mr. Flynn said information parents may have read or heard about the Common Core may have led them to pull their child out of the tests.
Theres been stuff available on the Internet and even certainly newspaper stories. Weve had people speaking on television, politicians and others whove encouraged them to opt out for one reason or another, he said.
I think we were surprised (by the numbers), Ms. Fiske said. I think it has been difficult, especially at the middle level, because Common Core was implemented very quickly. They didnt have the benefit of the previous years instruction. It was intense for our teachers and students and most likely for parents.
Certainly the rigor has changed with Common Core. I think parents who are choosing not to have their children participate might possibly disagree with the Common Core in itself. But certainly Common Core has its benefits if were going to prepare children for the types of careers that will be available when they graduate, she said.
She said schools needed to look at increasing the rigor of their instruction, which they do with the Common Core.
If you look at our technical writing, all kinds of different information that students would need to read, whether its auto body or any type of technical science information, the readability is very high, Ms. Fiske said.
Because some students did not take the test she said that would skew the districts numbers. If they dont meet the required participation rate, it could affect the schools adequate yearly progress measure from the state Education Department, which is used to judge whether Massena Central is a school in good standing, she said.
There are ramifications for the district if the parents choose not to have their student participate, she said.
There are some funding implications. If we dont meet adequate yearly progress, then we could lose some funding for our schools, Mr. Flynn said.