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Despite problems, ELA tests remain valid, New York State says

Some pages were missing from some of the English language arts tests that students across the state took Wednesday, and others were not labeled correctly.

That prompted some opt-out activists to call for the tests to be thrown out. But New York State will not invalidate the tests.

In an unusual move on the morning of a standardized test, New York State notified school districts via email there was a problem with the directions on the essays students were sitting down to take. The email was sent at 9:06 a.m. Wednesday, according to the state Education Department.

“We are absolutely not going to invalidate a test because an extra scrap page was inadvertently omitted,” spokesman Jonathan Burman said in an email.

Wednesday was the second day of the three-day series of English assessments for third through eighth graders.

A blog by “New York City Parents” called it a “major snafu,” and links to a copy of the advisory from the state Department of Education it said was issued Wednesday morning.

The notice pertains to the last question in the tests for third through eighth graders, where the instructions direct students that they may plan their written answer on the “Planning Page,” but the blank pages are not labeled as a Planning Page. Teachers were instructed to tell students they may use the blank pages at the back of the test booklet.

In tests given to students in grades three and five, “there are no blank pages,” the notice states. Teachers were to give students scrap paper for planning, and collect the papers, labeled with the students’ names, with the test booklets.

The superintendent received the notice in one area district shortly after 9 a.m., and notified an administrator who called and emailed district schools.

According to the blog, at least some teachers received the directives from the state after the test began Wednesday morning.

Chris Cerrone, a co-founder of New York State Allies for Public Education, called, in a tweet, for the tests to be invalidated.

Results of the number of refusals are still coming in, but a statewide group said 122,340, or an estimated 10.8 percent of all New York students eligible for the test, have opted out of it. That was after gathering data from 33 percent of school districts.

According to United to Counter the Core, opt-out rates in some districts were as low as 2 percent and as high as 89 percent.

Rates in New York City had climbed over 30 percent, and some were higher than 50 percent, the group reported.