The epicenter of New York’s historic test refusal movement is gearing up for a repeat performance when testing begins on Monday.

The state is hoping that the introduction of computer-based testing will mollify parents but it shouldn’t. Numerous studies have shown that students get lower scores on computer-based tests than on tests that require pencils. Some children–especially in younger grades–are not adept with keyboard skills. Others find that scrolling up and down the online format is confusing as compared to using pencil-and-paper.

But the fundamental problems remain. Many parents and educators don’t like the Common Core. The results are reported far too late to help teachers because their students have moved to another grade. Students are not allowed to discuss the test questions or to learn what they answered right or wrong. In short, the tests have no instructional value. They are simply a way of ranking students without helping them.

They are pointless.

Enough parents understand this, which feeds the opt out movement.

If the Regents and the State Education Department can’t address the genuine concerns of parents, they should stop the testing. Until they do, parents should not allow their children to take the tests.

“Public school districts across Long Island and the state are bracing for what many educators and parents expect to be a fifth consecutive year of Common Core test boycotts in grades three through eight, even as eight districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties and dozens elsewhere introduce computerized versions of the exams.

“The state’s time window for the English language arts test starts Monday and closes a week later, both on the Island and statewide. Extra days were added, as compared with last year’s schedule, to allow flexibility in giving the computer-based exams. The traditional pencil-and-paper tests will be given Tuesday through Thursday.

“Officials in some Long Island districts put estimates of opt-outs at 40 percent to 70 percent of their eligible students.

“Brian Conboy, superintendent of Seaford schools, said he expects the boycott of English exams in his district to run close to last year’s 67.8 percent.

“I’m a firm believer in assessment,” Conboy said. “However, assessment has to be developmentally appropriate for students. In the case of how these assessments rolled out, all trust was lost.”

“Cheryl Haas, who lives in the Hauppauge district and is keeping her twin daughters out of the eighth-grade English test, also predicted that refusals would equal last year’s local rate of 71.9 percent. Haas, a former teacher, agreed that tests must be developmentally appropriate — that is, not beyond students’ age and skill levels.

“Until then, parents will stand united to do what is best for their children,” Haas said.

“Some boycott organizers noted that opt-out rates are difficult to project in advance, because many parents wait until the first week of testing to file refusal forms with their districts.

“More than a year has passed since the state Board of Regents moved to ease anxieties over testing by declaring a moratorium, until the 2019-20 school year, on using test scores in any way that might reflect poorly on students’ academic records or as a component in teachers’ job evaluations.

“The nation’s largest test-resistance movement, with Long Island as its epicenter, has emerged in New York State since 2013. Last April, the number of students in grades three through eight in the two-county region who skipped the English assessment reached 89,036, or 51.6 percent of the total eligible, based on data from 108 districts that responded to a Newsday survey.

“Reasons behind the phenomenon: outrage and anxiety among teachers, parents and students over a series of educational reforms pushed by state and federal authorities, without adequate time for teachers and students to prepare.

“Into the mixture this year add the introduction of computer-based tests.

“Schools in five districts in Suffolk County and three in Nassau are going with the electronic versions: Bridgehampton, Franklin Square, Islip, Massapequa, Mineola, Mount Sinai, Longwood and Remsenburg-Speonk.

“Districts on the Island that are administering tests electronically will do so only in selected schools or on selected grade levels. Other students in those districts will take traditional paper-and-pencil tests, as will students elsewhere.

“Computer-based testing also is scheduled in three nonpublic schools — Our Lady of Lourdes in West Islip, St. Patrick’s in Huntington and St. William the Abbot in Seaford — as well as in three special-education centers run by Eastern Suffolk BOCES.

“State math tests for grades three through eight are scheduled May 1-8.
Both kinds of tests, computer-based and paper-based, require three consecutive days for completion within the Education Department’s specified time periods.

“Statewide, about 150 districts will offer computerized testing in English, and 136 will do the same in math, according to the state Education Department. The state has about 700 districts in all.”