NYS points to slight drop in opt-outs, but many WNY schools still see high numbers

NYS points to slight drop in opt-outs, but many WNY schools still see high numbers
Posted at 1:39 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 13:49:46-04

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) released the 2018 state assessment results Wednesday, which show right around 45 percent of students grades 3-8 scored at the proficient level for English Language Arts (ELA) and math.

The 2018 state tests also show a slight drop in students opting-out compared to previous years. In 2016, 21 percent of test eligible students refused to participate. That dropped to 19 percent in 2017 and 18 percent this year.

Many Western New York districts also saw a small drop in students opting-out, but the numbers are still far higher than the statewide average.

Looking at Erie and Niagara Counties, 15 different districts had more than 40 percent of students opt-out of either the ELA or math state assessment in 2018.

Four school districts saw more than half its students in grades 3-8 opt-out of state ELA assessments. West Seneca (65 percent), North Collins (56.7 percent, North Tonawanda (57.1 percent) and Iroquois (50.5 percent).

There were two districts in Erie County that saw significant drops in opt-outs.

Lackawanna CSD went from 33.8 percent to 13.5 percent opt-out in math assessments from 2017 to 2018. Its ELA assessment opt-outs also dropped from 27.7 percent to 9.9 percent.

Cleveland Hill UFSD saw math opt-outs drop from 18.5 percent last year to 7 percent this year. ELA fell from 17.3 percent to 6.4 percent.

A recent change in proposed regulations by NYSED decided against punishing districts that see high opt-out rates by requiring they use certain federal funds to lower those numbers.

New York State United Teachers, the state union, criticized the state tests.

“The tests remain too long and frustrating for our students and don’t provide meaningful information to parents and educators," NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. "If the state wants to earn back the trust of parents and educators, it must fix its standardized testing program and more accurately measure student success.”

The union called the two-session assessments "developmentally inappropriate" for students and argued the results were provided to schools too late to allow for meaningful adjustments to curriculum for this year.

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