New York State changes mind, will not penalize districts with high opt-out rates

Posted at 12:49 PM, Sep 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-18 17:20:26-04

After seeing a wave of public comment on regulations in May that could have penalized school districts that see higher numbers of students opting out of state standardized tests, the New York State Education Department is now recommending changes to those plans.

Original plans could have required districts with high opt-out rates to spend portions of federal funding to encourage more students to actually take those tests. NYSED is now recommending that portion of the regulation be dropped.

NYSED received 1,900 comments from members of the public about the original plans, the majority focusing on regulations related to student participation in state assessments.

“Paramount to any good public policy is engagement with stakeholders,” NYSED Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia said.   “Following a thoughtful and productive discussion and considering the comments received, I am confident these changes will benefit students across the state."

The move was met with support from New York State United Teachers, a union representing thousands of teachers in the state.

"As a result of today’s actions, schools with high opt-out rates will be treated more fairly — a victory for the hundreds of NYSUT members who opposed the draft regulations and defended parents’ right to opt their children out without penalty or pressure," the union said in a statement.

The state will still take participation rates in state assessments into account when identifying schools in need of improvement, but one change proposed will make it easier for schools with high opt-out to get off that list as long as they are performing well academically.

That is something NYSUT hopes to see changed, saying "no school should face any sanction — or the stigma of being placed on a state list of academically deficient schools — because parents refuse to have their children take flawed and misused state standardized tests."

You can see a full list of proposed changes here.

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