First day of state testing in schools, advocates in favor of ‘opting in’

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —  Today was the first day of state testing in our schools. Parents and educators are talking about the controversial opt-out decision.

“I think it’s the Federation wanting to protect the teachers from showing that they’re not teaching the children properly. The children need to be taught and we need to know what they know,” said Patricia Elliott-Patton,  parent to a child in the Buffalo Public School district.

Some parents and advocates of opting in say the ‘opt out’ movement is tied to the special interests of adults and not the children.

“The reality is that we’ve had state assessments since 2002 I mean we had no conversation of them not being fair until they got tired of teacher evaluations,” said Samuel Radford, Buffalo Public School district Parent Coordinating Council President.

On Tuesday students across the region started state assessments in English language arts.
This year adjustments have been made to the test. It’s now shorter, students have an unlimited amount of time to finish them, each test is reviewed by 22 state educators and they won’t be used to evaluate educators for the next four years.

“Clearly there were concerns about the test and they gave feedback on those concerns and they made adjustments to the test. Our children are going to take tests their whole life. Whether you’re trying to get into college or trying to get a civil service job you’re just going to take tests that’s part of life,” said Radford.

Those in favor of opting out have said the tests are not age appropriate and not a good tool to measure learning.

“It not only gives kids anxiety, it gets them harder to concentrate,” said Tylor Norfolk, former student of Buffalo Public Schools.

Test scores do not factor into student grading overall. Principals and teachers use the scores to plan academic curriculum for the following year.

Former New York Board of Regents Chancellor Robert Bennett says the process could be improved by getting the test results back to school districts faster. He says changes to the 2017 test are currently underway.

Preliminary survey results show that opt out numbers for the Buffalo Public School District so far are low.

Last year the West Seneca School District had the most students in the area opt out at 71%. According to the Chief Information Officer around 71% of students have been opted out so far this year as well.
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