Large numbers of students refuse standardized tests

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Indications are that more students in western New York are refusing to take New York State’s standardized tests for English.

Testing begins Tuesday for grades three through eight.

In West Seneca 56 percent of students have said they will opt-out of the state exams. That’s a 27 percent increase over last year.

For months, teachers and parents across Western New York have urged the state to stop placing so much emphasis on standardized tests.

State Assemblyman Mickey Kearns co-sponsored a bill that would not penalize districts for students who opt out.

“We’re going to have the standardized test “flu” for those parents who did not opt out ahead of time,” he said.

Students in West Seneca who come to school but don’t take the test will not be made to stare at the wall.

“We will not have children sit and stare,” said West Seneca School Superintendent Dr. Mark Crawford. “Children will be taken to other locations to engage in other learning activities.”

In Buffalo, the teachers union website even spells out to parents the steps to take if they want to refuse the tests for their children.

“The tests are invalid, first of all. They don’t test critical thinking. The don’t test any of the kinds of the things that we think are important,” Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore said. “They don’t provide any useful information for the parents and the teachers to help the child.”

Buffalo Interim School Superintendent Donald Ogilvie acknowledges the controversy swirling around the tests and the many rallies held across western New York. But he is urging students to take the tests.

“These tests are important and they were designed to measure the overall improvement in classes and schools and school districts,” he said.

Ogilvie said slightly more than five percent of Buffalo’s students did not take the standardized English and math tests last year. He said he does not have a projection on what this year’s numbers might be.

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