US Education Secretary John B. King: Penalize schools with high rates of Common Core opt-outs

Scores of parents across Long Island have had their children opt out of the controversial Common Core standardized tests, but schools with high opt-out rates could soon face penalties.

U.S. Education Secretary John B. King is pushing for new regulations that would penalize schools where large numbers of students refuse to take the tests. King says the testing is necessary because it's important to track students' progress.

The proposal would make schools where 5 percent or more of students opt out be considered in need of improvement. Those schools could see their ratings lowered, and could be required to come up with ways to increase participation.

The proposal is being met with opposition by some Long Island parents and educators. Last April, more than half of eligible students on Long Island opted out of taking the math and English tests.

"When you have high-performing schools which are clearly serving the student population well, and they have low participation rates, not because of anything the school has done -- why would you penalize those schools?" questions Deborah Brooks, of Long Island Opt Out.

Retired Brentwood Superintendent Michael Cohen says the education secretary is digging in his heels on Common Core. "He seems to have staked his ground right there. And he seems unwilling, unable, whatever word you want to choose, to find another way to move forward."

Some parents say they are backing the proposal.

"If the children are doing well, the teachers know, the parents know. If they're not, they need to make changes. I think they should have their children take the test and that's the way it goes," says Nicole Alper, of Syosset.

The new regulations would not take full effect until the 2017-18 school year. People who want to comment on the proposal have the opportunity through Aug. 1.

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