Few Clouds 39° Good Evening
Few Clouds 39° Good Evening

Opt-out to blame for lost accolades. What a shame.

There are many empty seats in this 8th

There are many empty seats in this 8th grade class at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School where students opt out of taking their English Language Arts test April 16, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Two Long Island schools that may deserve vaunted federal Blue Ribbon Awards for academic excellence likely won't receive them because too many students opted out of standardized tests in 2015. That's too bad.

George H. McVey Elementary School in East Meadow and Quogue Elementary School are two of only 19 schools in New York nominated for the award, granted for high or rapidly improving achievement. To win, they'd need 95 percent participation of students in state testing. McVey had 84 percent and Quogue had 88, both quite high. But only seven of the 19 schools met the 95 percent threshold in 2015. Islandwide, the opt-out rate for third- through eighth-graders exceeded 45 percent. Besides the impressive feat of educating the kids well enough to achieve high scores, administrators seeking Blue Ribbon status put in a tremendous amount of effort preparing their applications.

Missing the honor is a shame, though, and a reminder that measuring proficiency is as much about celebrating achievement of successful schools and students like these as it is about addressing deficiencies.