With a million students around the state poised for another round of common core standardized testing, parents gathered in Brooklyn on Tuesday for what they called a "celebration" of the anti-test movement. They said their numbers, and influence, are growing. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed this report.
On the eve of the high-stakes statewide math tests, these kids have nothing to worry about.
"I didn't even know there was a test tomorrow," one student says.
That's because he's not taking it. Out of 420,000 city elementary and middle-school students who are supposed to take the annual state tests, he's among the growing number whose parents have withdrawn them from the exams.
Parent advocates said Wednesday that more than 3,100 students sat out the statewide English exams at 93 schools last week.
"And that's two times the number of schools that were involved in opt-out last year," one parent advocate says.
It may even be a lot more. Last year the city's official number—released in the summer—has been double the parents' estimate. Statewide, more than 100,000 students are skipping the tests.
So what began as a small protest movement may soon have a real impact on education policy.
"Something has to give. Something has to change. It has to," says parent Charmaine Dixon.
Parents who gathered Tuesday say they're trying to force the State Education Department to abolish high stakes testing altogether.
Officials say they're listening. Last week, the chancellor of the Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, told us she'll be considering the opt-out protest while forming policies related to the tests.
“We will not ignore the voices of parents across this state; that is an absolute," says Tisch.
Tops on her agenda is the teacher evaluation system—which, according to a new law, could base half of teachers' ratings on test scores alone.
That's something teachers and many parents oppose.
“She's having to give up 10, 12 weeks of meaningful learning in order to learn how to answer trick questions on a test,” one parent says.
State officials are not ready to back off, though. Tisch still defends the tests as a way to measure student achievement and hold educators accountable, but she acknowledges her team is going to have to do a better at getting parents onboard.
Otherwise, the state may not continue to gather enough data for the tests to mean anything.