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State tests – and opt-outs – continue this week

The battle over opting out of state assessments continues this week, with math tests for third- through eighth-graders starting Wednesday.

High Achievement New York, a statewide group supporting the Common Core standards and the tests, is increasing its campaign with robo calls and radio ads.

Parents in the Buffalo area will hear the commercials with testimonials on WBEN-AM and WBLK-FM. The group said it is sponsoring at least 100,000 robo calls around the state encouraging parents to send children to the tests.

“We’re very encouraged that the vast majority of New York parents are opting their children in to this year’s assessments,” said Steve Sigmund, executive director of the group.

He noted that some areas have seen opt-out numbers remain flat or go down, and a large number of city and high-performing students are taking the test.

“We want to see the trend continue this week,” he said.

The opt-out rate statewide stands at about 15 percent, with reports from about half of New York’s nearly 700 districts, according to United to Counter the Core, an opt-out group that is keeping a grass-roots count of children refusing the tests. Last year, more than 20 percent of students opted out across the state.

Meanwhile, Western New Yorkers for Public Education, a group of local parents and educators, is calling for families to continue the boycott, and opt out of the three-day math assessments.

“It’s impressive how hundreds of thousands of parents from all walks of life have invested in looking at this issue and have come to the same conclusion: The tests are counterproductive to education and must be refused,” said Patty Munnikhuysen, a parent and Wilson School Board member.