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Friday, October 31, 2014
Seaford 'opt outs' on the rise
By Michael Ganci

Of 1,049 Seaford students who were eligible to take the math portion of the New York state standardized tests, 331 children — 31.6 percent of those eligible for the exams — “opted out,” school officials confirmed.

More than half of the opt-outs were at Seaford Middle School, where 41.6 percent, or 209, students declined to take the test. At Seaford Manor School, 82 students, or 32.6 percent, did not participate, while at Seaford Harbor School, just 40 — 13.7 percent — declined.

The numbers reflect a stark increase from 2013, where 95 percent of Seaford students took the exams. The number of math opt-outs is also greater than the English Language Arts portion of the assessments, in which 282 Seaford students — 25.8 percent — refused the tests.

“While opting out isn’t a state-recognized option for students scheduled to take state assessments, we respected the decisions of parents who felt that opting out was in the best interest of their children, and we made every effort to accommodate the needs of students who took the assessments and those who didn’t,” Superintendent Brian Conboy said.

He added that the growing number of opt-outs made it difficult to achieve the 95 percent student participation rate that is required by New York state. “It is not clear at this time what the consequence of failing to make the minimum participation rate may be for school districts,” he said. “This is concerning, as any negative consequence, particularly anything that may reduce our state aid, we can ill afford.”

In Wantagh, 18.1 percent (262) of 1,444 eligible test takers opted out, slightly up from the 16.4 percent (237) who declined to take the English portion of the assessments.

“The district followed state protocol and administered the math assessments to all students in grades 3 through 8 who did not indicate they would be refusing to take the test,” Superintendent Maureen Goldberg said.

The Levittown School District declined to release information on test participation.

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