Just about 60 percent of Wantagh students in 3rd through 8th grades opted out of taking the state English Language Arts test this week. That broke down to 778 out of 1,301 eligible students, boycotting the state exams.
In Levittown, 67 percent opted out of the testing – or 2,168 of the 3,254 eligible students. The highest percentage boycotting the state assessment were the 8th graders at Wisdom Lane Middle School with 85 percent refusing to take the test.
In Seaford, 66 percent of the 3rd to 8th grade students opted out of the state exams.
Levittown and Seaford had among the highest percentage of students opting out this year, followed in Nassau only by the Bellmore-Merrick district which had 70.3 percent boycotting the state test. Each had well above the county average of a 51 percent opt out rate.
Overall, more than half of eligible students on Long Island boycotted the state English Language Arts test this week. It was a continuation of high opt-outs since 2013 - despite state efforts to win back students and their parents by shortening the exams. Exam times for both the ELA and math tests were reduced this year to two days, compared with three days in the past. Individual districts also had the option to give traditional paper-and-pencil exams or the computer-based test.
Most parents sent notes in well in advance about their children not being tested. A rare few sent a note in the day of the exam.
NYS Education Department spokeswoman Emily DeSantis released this statement in response to the high percentage of optouts:
"Over the past three years, Commissioner Elia has listened to the concerns of parents and teachers and made significant changes to the exams as a result. This year, both the ELA and Mathematics testing sessions are reduced to only two days each, resulting in substantially fewer questions than in recent years. For the third year in a row the test will be untimed and we will release 75% of the test questions. In addition, hundreds of New York State educators were involved in creating and reviewing questions for 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests and selecting the questions for the test forms. It's up to parents to decide if their children should take the tests, and we want them to have the all the facts so they can make an informed decision."
An Education Department official, meanwhile, pointed parents to some helpful guidance documents that explain the changes to the State assessments:
The 2018 Grades 3-8 New York State Assessments: What Parents Need to Know: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/ei/2018/2018-handout-for-parents-3-8-tests.pdf
Parents' Frequently Asked Questions About New York State's Annual Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/ei/2018/2018-faq-for-parents-3-8-tests.pdf