Erie County parents boycott New York State testing for fourth year

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) –  It’s that time of year again. New York’s exams for grades three through eight start at the end of this month. And for the fourth year some parent- led groups are boycotting the tests. 

Parents say they’re still angry over the high-stakes nature of the exams and the common core standards they are based on. Despite changes last year, some parents say, it’s not enough.

Shirely Verrico from Williamsville has encouraged all three of her kids to boycott New York state testing. And this year, she’ll once again send a letter to their principal on their behalf. She said, “I saw a stress level enter the classroom and a language that I thought was very inappropriate. And I saw the way this testing culture and its punitive nature was spreading through my entire school even to very young children.”
Each year, the boycott has grown, from 5 percent of eligible students to 21 percent in 2016. The parent groups sees these tests as privatizing public education and says students aren’t penalized.

Verrico said, “These tests are produced by a corporation that makes tons of money our districts are paying money for these tests.”
The states education leaders hope tweaks and changes to the tests in the past two years will encourage more parents to have their students participate.

That includes shortening the tests, making the tests un-timed, unlinking the test results from teacher evaluations for at least four years, and adding more teacher input on the questions.
But for some parents, those changes aren’t enough. Verrico said, “They’re meant to be looked at through big groups of data not in any kind of meaningful assessment of what a single student knows.”
Eleven of the top 150 cities with the highest opt out rates were in Erie County towns. Meanwhile, Tuesday, education advocates will launch a new statewide “say yes to the test” campaign encouraging parents to opt in their kids, and emphasizing the importance of the tests for quality education.

For more information on the “opt-out” movement, visit the Western New Yorkers for Public Education website here. 

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