Herald file photo
Students across Long Island are refusing state tests, protesting against academic standards that they say have become unrealistically challenging.
The State Education Department has spoken out against the movement, discouraging parents who instruct their children to decline the tests. “Three years ago, the Board of Regents adopted more rigorous standards and committed to reflect those standards in the state’s exams,” said Dennis Tompkins, a spokesman for the department. “The goal is to make certain that all students are on track to succeed in college and meaningful careers when they graduate high school. Parents who keep their children from taking these tests are essentially saying, ‘I don’t want to know where my child stands, in objective terms, on the path to college and career readiness’ — and we think that that’s doing them a real disservice.”
The department added that if fewer than 95 percent of children in a district take part in the tests, the district will fail to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress — a designation that a district has met the state’s academic standards. Districts that fail to earn that designation could potentially have their Title I funding affected, and could also face intervention by the state.
With such a low percentage of students refusing the tests, however, East Meadow is not at risk of losing that designation.
Why they refused
Ilene Ballato said the decision to refuse to take the tests was a mutual one she and her two sons made. Her youngest is a fourth-grader at Barnum Woods Elementary School and her oldest is a seventh-grader at Woodland. One of them is a special-education student who has a major speech and language impairment, Ballato said.
She said she grew discouraged after examining the sample test-preparation materials, which are sent to students prior to the tests. “I don’t even want to say [the tests] would have been difficult for him,” she said. “It would have been impossible for him, based on the way the questions were worded.”