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Friday, August 22, 2014
Testing practices questioned
Parents want accommodations for children who refuse exams

A small but vocal contingent of East Meadow parents have voiced their dissatisfaction with the district’s handling of students who refuse to take state assessment exams.

Test refusals became a common occurrence across Long Island last April, a means of protest against the Common Core State Standards initiative, which many parents say has become unrealistically challenging for students. Last year’s math and ELA assessments — which are given annually at the end of the school year to children in grades three through eight — were the first to incorporate the new curriculum.

While the number of refusals has varied by district, only eight of approximately 3,500 test-eligible children in East Meadow refused the tests last year.

Their parents, who hoped for special accommodations during the testing time, were displeased when their children were given exam booklets instead of being permitted to read at their desks or participate in an alternative activity.

This year’s tests, which begin April 1, will see a small increase in refusals, said East Meadow Superintendent Louis DeAngelo. “Under current regulations, as set forth by the New York State Board of Regents, the school district is obligated to administer all state-mandated tests to all students,” DeAngelo said. “Unless the state changes its policies and directives, the school district will continue to administer all tests required by the state and, therefore, all students must, by necessity, sit for the examinations.”

The State Department of Education offers no provision for students who refuse the tests. According to the department’s 2014 School Administrator’s Manual, “All students are expected to participate in state assessments as part of the core academic program.” Furthermore, it states, “Schools do not have any obligation to provide an alternative location or activities for individual students while the tests are being administered.”

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