That’s the new jargon for when parents choose to have their kids not take the state’s standardized tests. There is a movement afoot to push parents in this direction. But there’s no way to know how many moms and dads might be thinking about it.
State Education Department officials definitely have the whole opting out thing on their minds. They held a media briefing today in NYC about the Common Core, the new tests debuting this month and — because everyone is talking about it — opting out.
The expression is not really accurate. State officials insist that parents have no option to, you know, opt out. They say that the state tests are part of the academic program and that students (or their parents) cannot choose which parts they want to participate in.
What happens if a student won’t take a state test? The answer is far from clear.
The student’s school district could suffer — but probably won’t. If participation falls below 95 percent, a district could lose some federal designations and possibly eligibility for some federal money. But state officials didn’t sound today as if they are concerned about this.
As far as the student skipping the test, the consequences are mushy. The state would not do anything. It would be up to the student’s district to act according to its regular attendance policies, state officials said. What would this mean? Probably not much.
Districts do use state test results to place students in advanced or remedial classes. If a student doesn’t have test results, it makes sense that districts would have to use other criteria.
We’ll see what happens in a few weeks, when the new tests in math and English for grades 3-8 are finally a reality.
At the briefing, state Education Commission John King, Assistant Commissioner Ken Wagner and several “senior fellows” working on testing issues continued to promote the new tests as more accurate gauges of where students stand in relation to — drum roll please — college and career readiness.
King said that he believes opposition to the new tests will dissipate once people see that they assess what students really understand and do not ask students to simply recite facts.
The commissioner repeated his earlier warnings that the new tests will be more challenging and that, as a result, the percentage of students hitting the state’s “proficiency” goals is likely to go down. In other words, fewer students will get 3s and 4s and more will get 2s and 1s.
King noted that in Kentucky, one of the first states to use assessments tied to the Common Core learning standards, the percentage of students hitting proficiency targets tumbled by like 35 percent.
Similar results in New York will leave school district officials with a lot to explain to anxious parents.
Test results should be distributed to districts in July. They, in turn, will send them out to parents later in the summer.
Education reform is always interesting, isn’t it?