Students take the New York State 2015 Common Core test...

Students take the New York State 2015 Common Core test in Sag Harbor, Thursday, April 16, 2015. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

More than 71,700 students in Long Island elementary and middle schools refused to take the state English Language Arts test this week -- 42.6 percent of those in grades 3 through 8 eligible for the exam -- a Newsday survey of nearly 89 percent of districts Islandwide found.

In 110 of the Island's 124 public school districts, 71,764 of 168,636 children eligible to take the test opted out of the exam, according to figures the districts reported both Friday and Thursday.

The number reflects an increase of 6,979 students refusing the test over the number reported in Newsday on Thursday. Ten additional districts submitted figures Friday or late Thursday, and two -- Amityville and Lindenhurst -- gave revised numbers Friday.

The added numbers led to a drop of 1 percentage point in the overall rate of test refusals on the Island.

The total number of students in Nassau and Suffolk counties opting out of the state ELA was a huge increase over those who did so last spring.

In April 2014 -- the second year of significant levels of test refusals on the Island -- 9,488 students in 67 districts that responded to Newsday's survey opted out. That was 10.4 percent of the 91,203 eligible to take the exam in those districts, according to the survey on the final day of 2014 ELA testing.

This week, high levels of student test refusals also were reported upstate, in school systems in the Westchester-Rockland and Albany areas, and in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.

There is no state agency or official organization that gathers data on the number of students not taking the state test during the actual days of the exam's administration.

Controversy over the state tests in English Language Arts and math has pitted parents and teacher unions against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration, particularly as students' scores on the tests were made a significant part of measuring teacher job performance.

Parents have lambasted the state's policies, saying their children are being over-tested and are spending inordinate hours of classroom time on test preparation -- all for exams they say do not truly measure students' knowledge. Pushback against the tests on Long Island started two years ago, soon after exams aligned with the national Common Core academic standards were launched.

Test refusals also are expected to be high next week, when the state math test in grades 3 through 8 is given Wednesday through Friday.

Last year, 10,765 students in 64 districts on the Island that responded to Newsday's survey refused to take that exam. That was 13.6 percent of the 79,082 students eligible to take the test, according to figures from districts.

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