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Local schools say far fewer students refusing state tests

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 April 2018 at 5:21 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The percentage of students who are refusing to take state assessments has dropped significantly at Holley Central School.

The tests aren’t nearly as lengthy and the student scores are no longer tied to teacher evaluations. Those might be big factors in why fewer students are refusing to take state tests.

Two years ago, all local schools had at least 20 percent of their students in grades 3 to 8 “opt out” of taking state assessments for math and English language arts.

Today was the beginning of the testing for the ELA assessments. Those tests used to be over three days. Now they are over two days with the tests taking about 90 minutes each day, although students aren’t under a time limit as long as they are working productively. The math tests follow next week for some schools.

Lyndonville had 8 percent of its students, 17 out of 212, refuse the tests today. Last year it was closer to 25 to 30 percent, said Jason Smith, the district superintendent.

“As a school district, we have tried to not make these tests stand out as anything special, just another way to measure student progress, like any other assessment,” Smith said. “The tests are important, we don’t discount that, but we also tried hard to not elevate either, as we want students to take these tests to see where we are doing well and where need to improve.”

Holley has had the highest refusal rate among the Orleans County districts, topping 40 percent in 2015, and then 36 percent for Math and 32 percent for English in 2016. Today the district had near 90 percent participation, said Karri Schiavone, the elementary school principal.

Medina had about 10 percent of the students refuse the tests, while Kendall was less than 15 percent and Albion was 14 percent, according to school superintendents at those districts.

The students who refuse the tests aren’t penalized. They typically stay in the classroom and have reading materials.

Here are the opt out rates for the districts in 2015:

• Albion, 29.0 percent for Math; 22.0 percent for ELA

• Holley, 43.0 percent for Math; 40.0 percent for ELA

• Kendall, 34 percent for Math; 30 percent for ELA

• Lyndonville, 26 percent Math; 19 percent for ELA

• Medina, 30 percent for Math; 21 percent for ELA

These are the rates for 2016:

• Albion, 21 percent Math; 21 percent ELA

• Holley, 36 percent Math; 32 percent ELA

• Kendall, 23 percent Math; 23 percent ELA

• Lyndonville, 29 percent Math; 29 percent ELA

• Medina, 25 percent Math; 23 percent ELA

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