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Editorial: Bid to halt Common Core tests is a bad idea

People protest at the Common Core Education Forum

People protest at the Common Core Education Forum at Ward Melville High School on Nov. 12, 2013. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

At best, the demand from Suffolk County school superintendents to halt the state's Common Core standardized tests, set to begin in less than a month, is an atrocious idea that's going nowhere.

At worst, it's a cynical move from educators who know there is no chance their pleas will be met but want to pander to parents who oppose the testing.

The Suffolk County School Superintendents Association sent a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this week demanding a moratorium on the tests, even though testing policy is set by the Board of Regents and the state Education Department. The tests are required by state law, but legislators have begun proposing laws to gut Common Core and the only power standing in their way right now may be Cuomo. The tests are also required by federal law, and the Department of Education has almost never granted waivers, even for developmentally disabled children and students who speak no English. It is pretty much unthinkable that the federal agency would issue a waiver for New York State.

Nor should it. The Regents went too far when they recently decided to delay the consequences of these new tests, making it possible for students up until the Class of 2022 to graduate without getting grades on Regents math and English exams that show they are ready for college or the workforce. The revision that postponed tying test results to placement and remediation decisions for students in grades three through eight for two years was a bit more understandable.

But calling off the tests would be foolish. It would mean we couldn't assess teacher training and curricula. It would mean we couldn't assess whether students are adapting to the new curricula, and which ones need more help.

So are these school superintendents being foolish or cynical? It's a multiple-choice question with nothing but wrong answers.