Common Core testing begins, many opt out
Tuesday was the first of three days of state assessment exams based on the controversial Common Core curriculum, which prompted many parents to opt their children out of the testing.
Students across Long Island are scheduled to take the English Language Arts test for three days this week and the math exam three days next week.
In East Islip, Gigi Guiliano's boys don't have to. She sent a letter to her school district saying her kids won't be taking the tests. Guiliano says students are being over-tested and she doesn't like what it's doing to her children.
"I saw a negative change in their personality and love of learning," said Guiliano.
Advocates from the Long Island Opt-Out movement say there were 30,000 students who didn't take the assessments last year on Long Island and a total of 60,000 statewide. They are expecting those refusal numbers to more than double this time around.
Some parents, such as LaShawnda Delaney-Brown, say refusing the tests has been a challenge. She sent in a letter for her 8-year-old son who's in third grade in Wyandanch. She told News 12 that she had to meet with the school's principal to explain her decision. She then received a letter from the district superintendent that states if students refuse to take the test, the district will lose some state aid and layoffs could be necessary.
The letter also states that any student that opts out will be required to take a similarly challenging test developed by the district, which could determine whether the student is moved up a grade or left back.
"I'm very angry. I feel bullied. I feel it's intimidation and I don't believe it's ethical or fair," Delaney-Brown told News 12.
Jeanette Deutermann, of Long Island Opt-Out, says the alleged district intimidation has "lawsuit written all over it."
"They're taking a real big chance going over the line of what a school district does have power and influence on and what they don't," said Deutermann.
In a statement to News 12, Wyandanch School District says in part, "There was no intent by the Wyandanch School District to intimidate any parent or student. Our purpose was to inform scholars, parents and staff of the importance of the common core testing to the district. The loss of any funding to the district could have a strong negative impact on our ability to deliver educational services to our community."
Advocates told News 12 that the loss of funding threat is not true and can't happen. But state education officials say that according to the U.S. Department of Education, districts do risk sanctions including the loss of money because of a failure to meet assessment participation requirements.
News 12 has been told that no district has been sanctioned so far.