Parents make their voices heard as Common Core tests approach

Mar 26, 2014

As the standardized testing season begins in schools across New York state next month, opponents of the controversial Common Core curriculum are making more noise. Some parents and educators are suggesting that the best way to express displeasure is to have kids refuse the test.

Judy Griffith of the West Genesee School District in Camillus was one, and she expects to have more company this year.

“While the number was low last year, we are expecting a little jump in numbers," Griffith said. "They may not be huge, but we keep saying year after year we think the numbers will get bigger and bigger as more parents are informed about what’s going on in the schools.”

Tanya Wilson didn’t pull her daughter out of the state mandated tests last year at the West Genesee School District in Camillus, but will this year.

"Because I have a high performing student who doesn’t test well on these tests," Wilson said. "And if she doesn’t test well on these tests, then she’s forced in state mandated services that she can’t get out of based on her high academic performance until she’s tested four, five, six, seven times in the next academic year, before she can be pulled from those academic services.”

So what would Wilson like to see as a result of this opposition?

“Less state assessments... less testing," Wilson said. "I think that teachers are so bogged down with all the work of these assessments, that they don’t have a lot of time to teach and develop a relationship with these kids.”

Wilson doesn’t think she’ll be alone, as worries over the Common Core remain in the second academic year of implementation in New York state. Those concerns according to parents include too many standardized tests that take away from classroom time, and unduly stress young children. Some parents say they are also concerned about the mining of student data sent to outside companies.

Last year, fewer than a third of the students taking the test passed. West Genesee parent Judy Griffith says parents who are upset with this do have a way to be heard - keep their children home the day of the test.

"You can refuse," Griffith said. "If you look at the test, there is a circle you can circle that is a refusal option. That’s what parents are using. There is no provision to opt out of state testing, but you can send in a refusal letter.”

Parents are hoping a grassroots effort exposing the issues surrounding the Common Core puts political pressure on Albany to do something. Specifically, they’re hoping that the state Senate passes an omnibus Common Core bill that was approved by the Assembly earlier this month, that would put the breaks on the curriculum's implementation.

Children from third to eighth grade start taking the English Language Arts tests April 1, and will take state mandated math tests later in the month.