This week, the Levittown Public Schools will administer the New York State ELA and Mathematics assessments to students in grades 3-8. However, due to growing concerns from parents planning to have their children “opt out” of the examinations, Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. James Grossane sent a letter to inform parents how the district will handle students refusing to take the standardized tests.
In his letter, Grossane stresses that parents who do not want their children to take the state assessments must notify the district beforehand.
“If there is prior parental notification of their request that the child not participate in the state assessment program, the child will be placed in an alternate testing location,” Grossane said.
This story originally appeared in the April 2, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.
Unlike some districts that have adopted a controversial “sit and stare” policy, in which the student is put in a separate room and given nothing to do for hours on end, Levittown school officials stress that students refusing to take the state assessments will be placed in a separate room where they can read or do homework without the pressures from other students taking the test.
According to the district’s public relations firm, Syntax, the district is required by law to present each student with an exam that the student must sign, regardless of whether or not they do not plan on taking it. Students will then go over the instructions with the proctor. If they refuse the exam and the parent has submitted a written refusal, the test will be removed from the student’s desk.
“They will not be penalized with a failing grade,” said a Levittown School District spokesperson. “There wouldn’t be any AIS.”
Academic Intervention Services, or AIS, is an additional service that students who do not meet proficency requirements—scoring a ‘1’ or a ‘2’ out of four—must attend. Meanwhile, students refusing the exam will be documented as a refusal to take the assessment.
“If no prior writtten notification has been received by the school and the student refuses to take the exam, the school will verify the parent’s support of their child’s refusal to take the assessment,” Grossane stated further in the letter. “If the parent cannot be reached, we will encourage the student to take the exam. If the student continues to refuse, we will honor that refusal.”
Amid the confusion surrounding the Superintendent’s letter, several Levittown parents have opened up about opting out of the exams. According to parents affiliated with the Long Island Opt Out movement, approximately 260 parents have already submitted letters refusing to take the exam, as of press time.