Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News says that 999 is the code for students who opted out in New York state, and their numbers are huge. At last count, with slightly more than half the districts tallied, protest organizers estimate that about 180,000 students opted out of the English language arts exams. In some districts, 70-80% of the students did not take the tests. State officials, acting with all due speed, as usual, said that they won’t know how many students opted out of the test until the summer, maybe.


Remember that these are not the tests that we took when we were in school. They are tests that last several hours over a three-day period for each subject. Two full weeks of school are devoted to testing, one week for ELA, one week for math, three days of testing each week. Why can’t the testing companies figure out what students know and can do with a one-hour test, as our teachers used to do by themselves?


Parents opted out despite threats from state and local officials that their child would jeopardize his/her future or the school would lose funding.


Gonzalez writes:


Whatever the final number, it was a startling act of mass civil disobedience, given that each parent had to write a letter to the local school demanding an opt out for their child.


It’s even more impressive because top education officials publicly warned school districts they risk losing federal funds if nonparticipation surpasses 5%.


“To react to parents who are speaking out by threatening to defund our schools is outrageous,” said Megan Diver, the mother of twin girls who refused their third-grade test at Public School 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.


Gonzalez sees the game that the state is playing with the tests:


Back in 2009, the old state tests showed 77% of students statewide were proficient in English. The next year, the pass level was raised and the proficiency percentage dropped to 57%. A few years later, Albany introduced Common Core and the level plummeted even more — to 31% statewide.


Same children. Same teachers. Different test.


The politicians created a test that says all schools are failing, not just the ones in the big cities, then declare a crisis, so they can close more neighborhood schools, launch more charter schools, and target more teachers for firing.


Meanwhile, the private company that fashioned this new test, Pearson, insists on total secrecy over its content.


This week, test instructions even warned teachers not to “read, review, or duplicate the contents of secure test material before, during, or after test administration.”


What kind of testing company forbids a teacher from reading the test he or she administers?