Cross-posted from the Curriculum Matters blog
By Catherine Gewertz
Unless you’ve been hiking in Antarctica, or cut off from the news in some other way, you know that New York has become something of a hub for the testing opt-out movement. Until now, the central strategy has consisted of voting with one’s feet: simply refusing to take the test. But today we learn of a new strategy: undermining the test by breaching its security.
According to the New York Post, portions of New York state’s English/language arts test were posted Wednesday on a Facebook group called “Education is a Journey, Not a Race,” which has featured posts that railed against common-core testing.
According to the Post, more than three dozen photographs of the exam showed up on the group’s page on Wednesday morning. That Facebook page would not display Thursday morning, however, and three Facebook images that had accompanied the Post story had been deleted. The Post said that the post had been shared 163 times by Wednesday night.
The leak raises the question of whether the test would have to be revised next year. State education officials told the Post that it doesn’t threaten this year’s results, since all testing in English/language arts had concluded before it appeared.
You’ve no doubt been monitoring the opt-out activity that’s been rising in pockets of the K-12 world during this spring’s testing season. Definitive numbers are hard to get, since testing is still under way, and not all school officials collect test-refusal numbers.
The New York media are trying to pull those numbers together on their own. The Daily News reports today that 184,000 students have skipped the tests so far statewide, 3,124 of those in New York City. To put those numbers in context, at least somewhat, New York state’s pre-K-12 enrollment is about 2.7 million, with about 1 million of those students in New York City. Those reports are based on a tally by an anti-testing group called United To Counter, which has been circulating test-refusal forms (and test-refusal bracelets).
Newsday has been busy collecting opt-out data from school districts on Long Island. As the math tests began yesterday, it reports, 32,704 of 67,612 students in grades 3 through 8 who were eligible to take the test in 39 districts in two counties, Nassau and Suffolk, refused it. That’s 48 percent. Last year, the paper collected that data from 64 districts on the last day of math testing and found a refusal rate of about 13 percent.
The newspaper points out that opt-out numbers need to be viewed through a different lens in math than in English/language arts. Eighth grade students can waive the state math test and take the 9th grade Regents algebra exam instead, and administrators in some districts told Newsday that that can account for one slice of the refusal data.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.