Almost half of Island students opt out of Common Core tests

JULIE LANE PHOTO Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik hadn’t expected almost half of eligible students to opt out of Common Core testing this month.

JULIE LANE PHOTO
Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik hadn’t expected almost half of eligible students to opt out of Common Core testing this month.

Shelter Island Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik was anticipating a few students might opt out of the Common Core state exams.  But statistics he confirmed Monday morning show  almost half the students in grades three to eight opted out of the tests.Kathleen Lynch, a candidate for a Board of Education seat, said she thought most eighth grade students hadn’t taken the tests.

The numbers were revealed this weekend in a Newsday survey of Long Island districts that showed 71,764 students on Long Island had opted out. Shelter Island had 107 students eligible to take the tests and 50 didn’t, or  a rate of refusal of 47 percent.

The superintendent  said he respects parents rights to make their own  decisions. What drove so many to opt out was information on social media, Mr. Skuggevik said.

“Some people were basing it on facts and others on emotion,” Mr. Skuggevik said

At issue now is how the state will respond to such a large number of students not following Common Core guidelines.

The State Education Department requires that 95 percent of eligible students take the test. Mr. Skuggevik thought only two districts in Suffolk County hit that mark.

“There’s always the fear” that the state can take actions against districts that failed to hit required marks — anything from cuts in aid to decisions to take over districts the state considers are failing.

But with so many students in the area opting out, he said he can’t imagine what the response might be.

The State Education Department has not responded to a request for comment yet, but agreed to do so after questions are submitted via email.

Those students who didn’t take the tests were divided into grades and spent the testing time in the school cafeteria working on assignments given by their teachers or reading, Mr. Skuggevik said.

Any parents who either instructed their children to opt out of the tests, or permitted testing, please call Julie Lane at 749-1000, extenison 16.

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