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'Opt Out' Supporters Win L.I. School Board Seats

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Supporters of the opt out movement won 52 seats in Tuesday's school board elections on Long Island. More than half of school districts on Long Island now have at least some board members emphatically against Common Core-aligned standardized tests and how they are weighted in teacher evaluations.

This  could allow them to influence whether entire school districts administer the tests.

"We vote as a district that we will not administer the test. We will send them back unopened and not give them back to our students," Jeanette Deutermann, one of the lead organizers of Long Island's opt out movement, said.

Last year, 28 school boards boycotted state tests. Deutermann expects more this year.

Deutermann's group, Long Island Opt Out, endorsed 75 different school board candidates. The majority of them were elected.

Arnold Dodge, chair of the education administration department at Long Island University, said the opt out movement is at its zenith, and will eventually force change in Albany.

"I think, ultimately, the Governor of the state is going to say this is a losing proposition. He's going to find some elegant way to back out of it. But I think there's going to be change in the next six months to a year," he said.

The state's education department, which oversees the testing, did not comment on the school board votes.

As part of a recent budget agreement between Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, the New York State Education Department has until June 30 to come up with a plan for new teacher evaluations that will rely more heavily on standardized tests. However, lawmakers are currently looking to make modifications.

Senate Democrats said they are pushing to change the weight of the test in teacher evaluations. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) said Sunday that Republicans hope to make testing easier on students. The legislative session adjourns next month.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.