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Get the facts about test refusal

Photo of a bubble test sheetA growing number of parents and caregivers statewide are planning to instruct their children to refuse to participate in standardized tests administered in public schools across the country this spring.

Administrators in the Marcellus Central School District understand that parents have questions and concerns about the tests, which are scheduled to take place in April for students in grades 3-8. 

“While we support parents’ rights to have their children 
refuse to take the upcoming state assessments, we urge them to make that decision after thoughtful and informed consideration,” Marcellus Superintendent of Schools Craig J. Tice said. “We are concerned about the incomplete and, in some cases, inaccurate information about test refusal that has been shared via social media.”

Standardized tests are administered annually in grades 3-8 in English language arts and math and at least once in grades 10-12. The testing is a national mandate as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2002.

Standardized tests serve as an objective assessment of all students at a particular grade level and as a measuring stick of where each student’s achievement compares to the New York State Learning Standards. Without standardized testing, there is no way to compare students in one school or district with students in other schools and other locations or against any objective measure of achievement.

All tests are meant to identify the gaps that exist between what people know and what they should know to move to the next grade, be accepted in a college or vocational school, get a license, or earn a promotion at work. Standardized test scores shine a light on the gaps that exist and are intended to help teachers know where they need to adjust their instruction to narrow the gap for a child.

In addition, districts use state assessment results as one measure in determining what services or supports a student may need in school, such as academic intervention services in reading and math.

Some opposition to state testing stems from the state’s use of the test results in New York’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) ratings system used to evaluate teachers and principals. Currently, 20 percent of a teacher’s or a principal’s evaluation is derived from “student growth,” which can be based on state test results, depending on which grade level/subject they teach or oversee.

“Growth scores” are based on how students perform on state exams compared to similar students across the state. As a result, large numbers of students opting out statewide has the potential to impact the scores, and if too many students opt out of a particular class, that teacher will not receive a growth score.

Education law states that parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s education, and the decisions they make for their children should be respected.

“We do ask, however, that parents get all the facts before making a decision about their children’s participation in the tests,” Dr. Tice said. “Before deciding whether or not your child should refuse to take a particular New York state test, seek out as much credible information as you can.”

The Marcellus Central School District intends to follow the same test security protocols it does for all tests, including the Regents exams. As a result, students will not be permitted to bring any additional materials to any of the testing sites.
Includes excerpts from “There is value in standardized testing” Copyright ©2015 by Parent Today and Capital Region BOCES; Used with permission.

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