Accountability News in Brief

New York’s Student Opt-Out Rate for Testing Hits 20 Percent

By Andrew Ujifusa — August 18, 2015 1 min read
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Twenty percent of students in New York state in grades 3-8 who were eligible to take statewide tests in reading and math for the 2014-15 school year did not do so, according to data released by the state education department last week.

It’s the third year that New York state students have taken tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. And scores didn’t change dramatically from last year to this year.

Overall statewide percentages of students who attained proficiency in 2014-15 were 31.3 percent on the reading exam and 38.1 percent in math. The math-proficiency rate rose by just under 2 percentage points from the 2013-14 rate; in reading, the proficiency rate rose by less than a percentage point.

The push by parents, the New York State United Teachers, and other groups for parents to opt their children out of the tests has been the subject of intense interest and media scrutiny for months.

According to demographic information from the department, those who did not have a “recognized, valid reason” for not taking the exams were: more likely to be white; more likely not to have achieved proficiency on last year’s exams; less likely to be economically disadvantaged; less likely to come from districts serving relatively large numbers of poor students; and less likely to be an English-language learner.

“Without an annual testing program, the progress of our neediest students may be ignored or forgotten, leaving these students to fall further behind. This cannot happen,” New York Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement regarding the opt-out numbers.

Tisch has previously warned that high opt-out rates could threaten the validity of the state’s common-core tests and “force” the state into using another test. But it’s not immediately clear what policy impact the opt-out rate will have in New York.

A version of this article appeared in the August 19, 2015 edition of Education Week as New York’s Student Opt-Out Rate for Testing Hits 20 Percent

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