Parents can opt their child out of Common Core tests, organization says

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Updated: 3/10 10:59 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – Parents can choose to opt their children out of Common Core standardized tests, according to a new ad released by an education organization.

The New York State Allies for Public Education created an ad that tells parents the Common Core curriculum can be refused.

Tim Farley is the principal of Ichabod Crane Elementary and Middle School and is also a member of the group.

“It is not an accurate measure of what kids know or they don’t know,” he said. “The tests themselves only cover about 15 percent of what’s covered throughout the school year, so you’re taking this snapshot of each of the kids for 15 percent of what they were taught throughout the school year, and they’re making big decisions based on that.”

Farley presented a workshop at the John Howe Library Monday to tell parents how they can opt their children out of the testing.

Farley admits it’s a tough position for him to be in. As a school administrator, he supports the testing, but as a father of four, he sees the harm testing can cause. His children will not take the tests.

Last year, he joined with more than 200 other parents at his school in opting out of the tests.

“I encourage parents to be empowered; they need to do the homework,” he said. “They need to find out all the information, and if they feel that it’s not a good idea for their children to take the test, then they shouldn’t take the test.”

Melissa Itskov is a teacher and mother of two. She attended the workshop and knows opting out of the tests works because she refused to allow her nine-year-old daughter Emma to take them.

“I didn’t want my children to have to think of education as test, test, test, practice for a test, practice for a test,” she said.

Emma said she was stressed to take the tests.

“I really did. I got stressed that I kept saying all these questions like, ‘What if I’m going to fail? Am I not going to go to the next grade? What am I going to do?’” she said.

Farley said parents can write and submit a refusal letter on behalf of their child to opt out of the tests. Emma said things have improved since she no longer has to worry about taking the tests.

“I really feel like there’s no more pressure,” she said. “There’s always something I can focus on like getting my grades higher in the normal tests.”

Itskov said this is the second year she will opt her daughter out of the tests, and she and her daughter have not faced any repercussions for their decision.

Tom Dunn is the spokesman for the New York State Education Department. He said in a statement:

"State assessments in English and Math offer an opportunity for educators and parents to gauge the progress a child is making toward the standards.  Why wouldn’t a parent want to know how well his or her child is doing?
All students are expected to participate in State assessments as part of the core academic program. Absences from all or part of the required academic program should be managed consistent with the attendance policies of the district. For accountability and other statewide reporting purposes, students who do not participate in an assessment are reported to the State as 'not tested.' 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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