Letter: Still Time To Opt Out

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New York State Common Core testing starts next week. This test, by law, can account for 50 percent of a teacher’s annual evaluation. There are many details of implementation and usage of this test that I find problematic. However, the “high stakes” of making test results as such a large portion of teacher evaluations, motivates teachers to spend too much time on test prep. Parents who want thoughtful, engaging education for their kids must opt their kids out to motivate our legislators to change the law.

I recently attended an event with most of the state legislators representing the northern part of Nassau County. It was stated emphatically, by a legislator, that the opt-out movement—where enormous numbers of parents refuse to have their children take the state common core test—is the only measure that state politicians have responded to with regard to education law. Organizing thousands of voters to action—opting their children out of the test—has required the governor, Board of Regents, State Education Department and legislature to consider changes to the law, evidenced by some small, but indeterminate actions to soften the impact of the test this year.

Yet no changes to the law have been made. The “changes” for this year are not significant and the same law that caused so many to opt out last year is still the law. The superficial changes are a thinly veiled attempt to quiet the opt-out movement. Parents concerned with meaningful classroom experiences and real education for their children must opt their third- through eighth- graders out of these tests.

To opt out, parents need to submit a simple letter (no email) to the school principal. The letter can simply state:
“Dear [Principal name], We are opting our child [child’s name] out of the New York State 3-8 ELA and Math Tests this year. Please ensure this decision is recorded as a “test refusal.” Sincerely, [sign and print your name].

North Shore School district will have children not taking the tests reading on their own, so be sure your child has enough to read each day.

—Deb McDermott

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