Mineola Superintendent's Blog

“Opt-Out”

I have had a lot of inquires the past two weeks about opting out of State exams.  While there have been many questions and opinions they seem to fall into three categories:

1-     Parents of children taking the exams.  This category comprises the  largest group of children. They want to know what is being done to make sure their children are not disturbed.  I have already had complaints about children who are not taking the exams taunting and teasing those students who are taking the exams.  Parents want assurances that the District is properly mitigating disturbances during the testing periods

2-     Parents opting to refuse the exam.  Several parents liken the refusal to civil disobedience (I have read many quotes from Gandhi and Dr. MLK Jr.).  These parents want students to be given the opportunity to vocally refuse the exam

3-     Parents who support the opt out movement but do not want their children to verbally refuse the exam.

In an effort to accommodate all three groups we have put the following in place-

All students whose parents have sent in a letter for refusal will report directly to the library.  The test will be presented to them and they can refuse.  There is no intent to intimidate or make children feel uncomfortable.  Our staff knows our children and they will be treated with care and respect. Once the exams are collected students will work independently, until the testing period is over. This procedure accommodates groups 1 and 2.

For those parents in group 3 you may bring your children to school after the exam, they will be marked late and a refusal will be noted on the exam.  We will not attempt to administer a make up.

Please remember that the security and procedures surrounding State testing is an enormous task.  Administering test accommodations alone uses a majority of our staff, but we feel we can handle these procedures.

There has been a lot of pressure from various groups and social media and tension has been running high- Let’s remember that this movement is NOT waged against the District.  It is a ‘fight’ between the Governor/ State legislature and NYSUT.  We do not agree with the over emphasis on yearly summative exams.  The Board and I have been very vocal about this.  Mineola has NOT abdicated local control; in fact we have worked diligently to provide parents with alternate assessment of their children, including the creation of electronic portfolios of student work.  We have NOT test-prepped children; we believe good teaching will yield good results.  We have ADDED science, music and language immersion programs. No teacher in Mineola has been harmed by the current APPR plan and we will work to insure that no teacher will – what ever the new regulations bring.

We will continue to respect the choices parent make and seek to please everyone’s position, albeit that may not be possible.

Posted in Around the District 4 years, 8 months ago at 5:42 am.

3 comments

3 Replies

  1. Danielle Fraccalvieri Apr 13th 2015

    So, what exactly is the purpose in “presenting” the children (minors) with the test after a parent has written a letter of refusal? Please don’t say it is a mandatory procedure required by the state, because if this were the case, ALL DISTRICTS would have to do it and they are NOT. So, if it is an individual district decision, what is the purpose exactly???

    Thank you!

  2. Mike Duda Apr 13th 2015

    Please explain why the test will still be presented to the child when the parent(s) have already explained they are refusing? This does not make sense and it is not necessary. Although, there is no intent to intimidate the children it certainly is intimidating and it does not need to happen.

    How is group 3 being accommodated if my child is still required to have the test in front of them?
    Thank You

  3. Stacy Leckler Apr 13th 2015

    Dear Dr. Nagler:

    I appreciate your intentions to guide our children through the refusal process with care and respect. However, I remain confused about your statements. I have consulted with an attorney, Deborah Brooks (646-483-1699)who has been in touch with other Superintendents in New York State. According to the attorney and the other superintendents, there is no such memo and there is no directive from SED on how to handle refusals. In fact, SED has made it clear that it is up to the local districts to figure out how to handle refusals. SED has NEVER stated that a refusal child must be handed the exam. The attorney’s remarks make sense to me, especially given the large number of districts that are NOT placing an exam in front of a refusal child and which are NOT requiring a refusal child to give a verbal refusal. It seems to me that IF that were the case, those districts would have heard from SED about the issue, and none have. Given that you are referencing explicit instructions to the contrary, it would be helpful to the parents in your district if you would please disclose the document which, by all accounts, is subject to public disclosure. Also, recently, the Deputy Commissioner’s office stated that they do not want to have opt-out issues escalate and that if a parent asks that a test not be presented to the child, NYSED has recommended that the parent’s wishes be respected. https://docs.google.com/document/d/15aZTWv-uDss_bH7b0kwC955-IhIhCcvAuLeJwEqvBUY/mobilebasic?hc_location=ufi&pli=1.

    “The Commissioner’s office also informed us that they do not want to have opt-out issues escalate. Thus, while the ordinary procedure is to present the test to a student and have him/her refuse, if a parent asks you to not present the test at all, NYSED has recommended that you comply with the parent’s wishes. However, it is crucial that you coordinate your response to any such parental requests with the superintendent, once again getting direction in writing whenever possible.”

    I would appreciate your consideration and NOT present my child with exams.

    In solidarity,

    Stacy Leckler


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