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Parents tracking test refusals expect more as state math exam begins

Parents and teachers tracking the number of children refusing to take state tests expect to see the boycott grow as students began the three-day math exam Wednesday.

“We are in uncharted waters,” said Loy Gross, a Batavia-area parent who has helped compile a statewide count of students opting out of the tests. “I don’t know that anyone inside the establishment expected this kind of pushback.”

Organizers of a statewide effort to protest the standardized tests estimate that at least 185,000 students across the state refused the English Language Arts exams last week. Based on what they saw during the last two years, they expect those numbers to increase again as students in third through eighth grade take the statewide math assessments through Friday.

Administrators in West Seneca on Wednesday reported an increase in students who refused the math test. About 74 percent of the third-through eighth-graders sat out of the math test on the first day Wednesday, compared to about 39 percent of students who refused the math test of the first day of the three-day exam last year, said West Seneca Math Director Franco DiPasqua.

About 70 percent of students opted out of the English Language Arts test in West Seneca Central Schools last week.

Several area school districts last week reported seeing the number of students refusing the reading and writing test increase dramatically compared to the prior school year.

Aside from increases in the number of students refusing the tests, parents tracking the number of test refusals have noticed a second trend. Last year, the opt outs were concentrated primarily in suburban school districts, Gross said. This year, the numbers have also grown in rural and urban districts, she said.

Last year, the number of children who opted out of the math test was higher than the number of children who refused to take the English Language Arts test, despite the fewer number of students begin required to take the math assessment. Eighth grade students who take algebra are not required to take the state eighth grade math test.