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Parent teacher organization offers pros & cons of opt out

WBFO News file photo

Another round of Common Core testing will be held Wednesday across the state. Students in grades three through eight are taking the math exam. While thousands opting out across Western New York last week for the ELAs, the opt out rate in the Buffalo School District was only at seven percent. 

WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley talked to one of the leaders of a Buffalo parent organization who believes parents are misinformed about the purpose of the assessments.

"I am quite concerned with the amount of time spent of time that is spent on standardized testing, the amount of test prep and the way it is influencing how teachers are able to teach," said Lawrence Scott,  co-chair of the  Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization.  

The BPTO has not taken an official position on refusing the tests. Instead the group has worked to guide parents  on the pros and cons of Common Core testing.

"Some of the criterion based schools some parents were begin told if they did not take the assessments that their child's eligibility would be in jeopardy, which is against new legislation that was passed last year indicating that a state assessment could not be used alone to determine a child's placement in a particular program or school," said Scott. 

Scott tells WBFO News some parents are claiming they were actually persuaded by the district to make sure their children are taking the assessments.

"Indicated that the tests are diagnostic and I think that was quit inappropriate to discourage parents who were exercising their right to have their children refuse the test," stated Scott.

But the school district sent a statement saying there "were some inaccuracies" in Scott's statements. The school district points the 2014 Common Core Implementation Panelthat recommended the "test be used for more diagnostic purposes rather than punitive until the CC implementation is successful".

The 2014 panel also addresses the issue of diagnostic, stated "Ensure that the results of State assessments in English and math for students in grades 3-8 will not be used against students and will not appear on their permanent records. Using Common Core exams for more diagnostic – rather than punitive – purposes for students will help children and parents transition to these new, higher standards. Until implementation is successful, Common Core test results should not be used as the sole or primary basis for major decisions like grade promotion and student placement, and should not appear on students’ permanent records.” 

"There's this believe by some that the tests are diagnostic, that they give us information, and unfortunately they don't. They give you a number, they don't give information on a child's strength or weaknesses, They don't give parents or teachers information on how best to intervene or instruct and provide the best services and support that a child needs," said Scott.  

Scott is the parent of a pre-kindergarten student at School 81, but he said if his son older he would want his child to 'opt out.'  Scott is predicting opt out numbers for this week's math exam in the city might be higher than last week's English test.  

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