Top Stories 2015: Students opt out of state assessments by the hundreds


Only a portion of students were declared “proficient” in state math and English Language Arts exams this year, as local superintendents claimed the assessments failed to accurately reflect student performance.

The number of students refusing to take the exams has continued to grow for the past three years and educators say current test scores don’t provide a clear picture of a school’s ability to educate youth.

Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney described the current atmosphere in education following the latest test scores as a “challenging time.” She believes the results fail to measure student ability accurately.

In the Riverhead school district, about 26 percent of students refused to take this year’s ELA exams, up from 10 percent last year. As for math, about 34 percent opted out, an increase of nearly 19 percent over the 2013-14 school year.

In Shoreham-Wading River, a whopping 73 percent of students refused to take both assessments, up from 33 percent a year ago.

SWR superintendent Steven Cohen said since most schools across the state did not meet the mandated 95 percent student assessment participation rate, he doesn’t think the recent test results hold any weight.

About 20 percent of eligible students across New York refused to take the exams this year, according to the state Department of Education.

Recently, the opt-out movement may have seen its first major victories.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) confirmed that President Barack Obama signed legislation Dec. 10 that includes his own proposal, dubbed the Zeldin Amendment, which will allow states to opt out of Common Core without sacrificing federal funding. And just last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced the Common Core program is set to be overhauled on the state level.

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