About 20 Percent of NY Students Refused To Take Spring Tests

BUFFALO (AP) -

About 20 percent of New York’s third- through eighth-graders refused to take the statewide English and math tests given in the spring, the state’s education chief said, acknowledging the opt-outs affected assessment data released Wednesday, which otherwise showed a slight uptick in overall student achievement.

About 900,000 students sat for the Common Core-aligned tests in April, while 200,000 opted out as part of a protest movement against what’s seen in New York and other states as an overreliance on testing in measuring student and teacher performance.

About 5 percent of students opted out of last year’s tests.

“There is no question that when you have approximately 20 percent of the students not test … the results would have variance based on that,” Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, adding that students who sat out of testing had more often than not scored poorly in previous years.

But she said the data provides useful feedback as the state continues to implement Common Core. The standards spell out what reading and language arts skills students in each grade should master and are designed to develop critical thinking skills.

The head of the state’s largest teachers union, though, said the results “tell us virtually nothing meaningful about students or their teachers.”

The 2015 results showed that, overall, students have made bigger gains in math than in English in the three years that the tests have been aligned to the Common Core, but the majority of students still are not considered proficient in either subject.