April 1, 2016 By Michael Florio
The New York State English Language Arts exams are set to take place next week and Council Member Daniel Dromm wants parents to know they have options.
Dromm will be hosting a meeting on Sunday at noon in front of the Jackson Heights Post Office, located at 78-02 37th Ave., where he will alert parents that they have the option of allowing their children to opt out of the test.
“I want to inform parents of their right to opt out,” he said. “I don’t think the [Department of Education] made that as well known to parents as they should have.”
The ELA test will start Tuesday and run through Thursday. The math test will take place the following week.
The test, which students in grades three through eight take, is used to evaluate students’ skills and mastery of content, as well as to help shape future instruction, according to the DOE.
The test is also used as part of the teacher evaluation process.
For Dromm, this use of the test is problematic.
“The tests used to be used to determine where a child was academically and what they need more help in,” Dromm, a former teacher, said. “The reformers came up with the idea to use the grades to evaluate schools and teachers.”
“The tests were never intended for these purposes,” he said.
While parents have been able to remove their children from these tests for years, opting out has only picked up momentum recently due to the pressures now placed on children, Dromm said.
Dromm said in recent years parents have caught on and now the movement to opt out is gaining traction. Last year more than 240,000 students chose to opt out, according to his office.
“Parents realize that the tests are not being used properly,” he said. “That’s when they revolted and said no more to these tests.”
Parents who are interested in opting out of the test should speak to their child’s principal, according to the DOE.
If a student does opt out of the test, the school will work to the best of its ability to provide the child with an alternate education activity, such as reading, during test times, the DOE said.
Dear Councilman Dromm,
Thank you for sharing guidance for families that may be considering opting out of state standardized tests. I have shared information about process with friends and acquaintances, and someone raised the following concern:
Students may miss opportunities for admission to schools and programs by opting out in certain grades:
4th grade – NYS exam to determine JHS admission (ie: NEST+M), program such ABC and Prep for Prep.
5th Grade – NYS exam used for Hunter College HS application, DREAM-SHSI
6th Grade – NYS exam used for Prep9
7th Grade – NYS exam used for some screened HS admissions
I shared a memo from the NYCDOE, which indicates that students cannot be denied admission to schools or programs just because they have opted out of state standardized tests. The memo further describes the application process for students without scores.
See p. 3, second paragraph, “For Enrollment Decisions”. http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/7FD3A296-59C1-429F-9E7C-B9FA09C1384A/0/2016ELAMathStudentParticipationParentGuide030416.pdf
Is there any additional guidance that may help families with these concerns?
Thank you again for keeping the community informed.