Only a few opt out of tests in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2014 at 12:00 am

In some Erie County schools, more than a quarter of students didn’t take recent standardized tests because their parents decided to have their children opt out of taking the exams.

It’s part of a growing protest by parents against Common Core testing. But in the Albion school district, only a few students didn’t take the tests. There are about 800 students in grades 3 through 8 at Albion. About 10 had parents who chose to have the children opt out of taking the tests, said Michael Bonnewell, district superintendent.

That’s about 1 percent of the eligible students in Albion. That compares to West Seneca, where 27 percent of the district’s 3,087 children in third through eighth grades didn’t take the reading tests because they’re parents decided to opt out, according to The Buffalo News.

Parents can keep their children home during testing days, which are spread over 12 days. That would count as 12 absences. Or students can go to school and sit quietly with the untouched test in front of them.

The “sit and stare” has sparked controversy in Western New York. In Albion, middle schoolers who opted out of the tests went to a room separate from their classrooms, Principal Dan Monacelli told the Board of Education on Monday.

Elementary students who opted out stayed with their classrooms during testing, said Principal Rachel Curtin.

The Common Core testing debuted last year and only about a third of students in NY reached or exceeded proficiency levels for math and reading.

Those tests were implemented at a time with new “Race to the Top” testing requirements from the federal government and also new teacher evaluations from the state.

Parents are protesting all of the changes and pressures on students and teachers.

“They are trying to change too many things all at once,” Bonnewell told the board about the new testing and evaluation requirements. “That is three major changes all at once.”