Fewer than half of the eligible students in the Iroquois Central School District participated in English Language Arts testing last week under the state’s Common Core Learning Standards, Superintendent Douglas R. Scofield said Tuesday.
Scofield said 58 percent of students in third through eighth grades were held out of this year’s controversial testing by their parents.
The superintendent told the School Board that about 90 percent of the district’s eligible students took the test in 2014.
The light turnout raises several questions for the district because teachers are evaluated based on a minimum of 16 test scores per teacher.
“How can you have fair representation?” Scofield asked. “When you’re missing over half the students, which half are you missing? Which subgroups are you missing?”
Scofield said that in order to be evaluated, teachers will have to develop a “student learning objective” as part of the score, which will be based on the state exam.
However, he said, the state won’t assist with developing the learning objective that outlines how much a student should learn through the course of the school year.
“Teachers are going to have to do additional work,” Scofield said.
“They adopt plans to fix problems that aren’t really problems,” board President Charles F. Specht said. “We have no control over parents pulling their children out of the tests.”
Specht also noted that parents aren’t opposed to standardized tests; they object to the idea that the tests cannot be used as a tool to develop the student’s education.
“I hope that the number of children who have opted across the state will wake somebody up,” Specht said.
Also Tuesday, the board agreed to make a change to the 2015-16 academic calendar to accommodate snow days.
School will start late in September because Labor Day falls on Sept. 7, so Scofield suggested that the weeklong “winter break” held in February be reduced to a two-day break.
Cutting the break would allow the district to accommodate snow days without running the risk of adding classroom days in June.
Noting that midterm exams are held in late January and the 2016 Easter break begins in March, Scofield said that cutting the midwinter break would ensure continuous education.
The board will formally make the change at its next meeting, scheduled May 12.