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Long Island Continues To Be Leader Of Opt-Out Movement

Courtesy of cherylt23 from Pixabay

Test opt-out in Long Island schools is in its fifth consecutive year of major boycotts. Nearly half of students in grades three through eight refused to take the English Language Arts exam this week.

Test refusals on Long Island are significantly higher than the New York State average. Education Department officials say nearly 50 percent of Long Island students opt-out of testing, compared to 18 percent statewide.

The state responded to parents’ criticism in years past by reducing the number of exam days and making the length of the tests shorter.

Computerized English Language Arts exams had technical issues this week, which prevented some students from being able to complete their exams. Many had to retake the tests. School officials expect students to also opt-out of math testing that’s scheduled at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, teachers and supporters gathered on Monday in front of the state Education Department building in Albany for a rally to say the entire standardized testing system is broken.

The New York State United Teachers union said assessing students’ progress is one of the most important functions a teacher serves – and the current standardized test system doesn’t do that.

The union wants the state Education Department to change the English and math tests for grades three through eight. They say the tests are too long, too advanced, and that the scoring benchmarks don’t reflect students’ real ability.

A spokesperson for the Education Department said the exams have improved significantly over the past four years – and that New York State teachers themselves review all the exam questions.

Jay Shah is a former Long Island bureau chief at WSHU.
A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.
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