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OpinionEditorial

Opt-out parents should consider state’s efforts

On the first day of the New York

On the first day of the New York State 2016 Common Core math test, many students at the John F. Kennedy Middle School in Port Jefferson Station opted out of taking the test, including this group of seventh graders who spent the time reading or doing homework on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Credit: John Paraskevas

For standardized tests to work, they must measure whether students have mastered the tasks set for them, and the tests can’t go through huge and constant changes. The state Education Department was burned in 2011 when it too-quickly adopted Common Core standards and newly rigorous tests at the same time. Now the agency has learned its lesson. New state academic standards, though largely similar to the Common Core ones, will be adopted in spring 2017. New assessments measuring students against those standards will arrive in spring 2019.

So it would be irresponsible and foolish to make separate, wholesale changes in the tests that students in grades three through eight will take this spring, even as the new standards are being set and as educators await any shifts in federal policy.

But that hasn’t stopped parent and teacher groups on Long Island and New York State United Teachers — disappointed that the state Education Department won’t cut the testing from six days to four this April — from calling on students to opt out of the tests again. Although the opt-out movement is centered on Long Island, such a cut would undermine testing for all New York students.

The Education Department made significant changes in the testing process last year, reducing the number of questions, allowing students as much time as they needed, releasing more questions as soon as possible after testing and making the score reports more useful to parents. The department can’t do total revamps every year.

It’s time to move our kids forward by educating them and then assessing what works and what does not. Opting kids out of tests, at this point, is really just choosing to leave them behind.— The editorial board

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