Supporters defend sit-and-stare policy

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When many Buffalo parents opted to take their children out of this week’s Common Core-based tests, they were unaware the district had adopted the so-called “sit and stare” policy.

Kathleen Zdarsky’s son Adam goes to the Olmsted School.

She said, “So Adam had to sit with his test in front of him and just wait the 70 minutes until it was over.”

Buffalo and Williamsville are just a few of the local school districts that have chosen this controversial approach to handling the rising number of students who are opting out of standardized testing. Students must sit with their classmates and are only allowed to read the test booklet.

Zdarsky explained, “I think he’s losing instructional time. The state said they can do sit and stare. They allow the children to read quietly or they can move them to a second location and let them get instruction. So why sit and stare? What is the purpose of that?”

Protesters in Williamsville made their opposition known Monday and the Buffalo Teachers Federation has also taken a stance against the policy.

However, supporters of the state assessment say the sit and stare policy maintains the integrity of the test. It also prevents a district from having to use extra staff to monitor students who opt out.

“If a parent really believes that there is something wrong with these tests, which there isn’t anything wrong with these tests, then that’s their decision. The district has some rules and regulations about test security that they must adhere to,” said Board of Regents Member Bob Bennett.

News 4 checked in with several school districts to see how many students opted out of this round of testing. Of the school districts that replied, administrators said they are still compiling that information.

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