Test-Refusal Proponents Win Seats in New York School Board Elections

By Karla Scoon Reid — May 22, 2015 1 min read
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Public school boards in Long Island, N.Y., just became a lot more test-refusal friendly.

According to news accounts, an overwhelming majority of school board candidates endorsed by Long Island Opt Out, a local group advocating for parents to refuse standardized testing on behalf of their children, won their election bids on May 19.

A flier posted on Long Island Opt Out’s Facebook page shows that the group endorsed more than 70 school board candidates in more than 40 school districts. (Long Island has more than 125 public school districts.) Newsday reports that more than 50 of those candidates, including incumbents, won their campaigns. Last year, the group backed about 20 candidates.

Jeanette Deutermann, an organizer of the Long Island Opt-Out group and a member of New York State Allies for Public Education, a statewide anti-testing group, told Newsday that school board candidates sought the local group’s endorsement this year.

The New York Times described Suffolk County, which includes the eastern part of Long Island, as a “hotbed” of the opt-out movement, pointing out that more than 50,000 students refused to take standardized tests this year. For example, the newspaper reports that in Rocky Point, N.Y., about 80 percent of students refused testing.

The Times analysis also found that in 440 of the state’s 721 districts, at least 165,000 students opted out of one test or more. That’s four times as many students than those who refused the tests in the same districts last year. In at least 60 districts, the Times found that the number of students opting out of testing exceeded the number of test-takers. According to the Times, data was either unavailable or officials did not respond to information requests from the state’s remaining districts, including New York City.

Arnold Dodge, a professor and chairman of the educational administration and leadership department at Long Island University in Brookville, N.Y., told National Public Radio station WSHU that the test-refusal movement, which gained traction when tests were aligned with the Common Core State Standards, will eventually force government officials to make changes to its assessment system.

“I think, ultimately, the governor of the state is going to say this is a losing proposition,” Dodge said.

Related Stories:

‘Opt-Out’ Push Gains Traction Amid Common-Core Testing

New York Exam Leaked, Opt-Outs Mount

A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.