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State assessments begin: Charter school opposes opting out

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Despite changes to the New York State Assessments, some parents said they will still have their child 'opt out'. Public school students in grades 3rd through 8th will be taking the English Language Arts exams Tuesday. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley takes a look at both sides in this opt out battle. 

“To see this kind of pressure put on students, put on teachers, changes the face and changes the environment of public education,” said West Seneca parent Molly Dana. 

Dana has two children in West Seneca schools, a nine and 12-year old.  Dana's children will opting out of state testing.  She pointed out this year's English and math tests still contain questions from the controversial company Pearson even though the state dropped them to prepare future assessments.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
West Seneca parent Molly Dana explains why she wants her children to "opt out".

“There still Pearson written tests, so now there is a moratorium on the results for the teachers. Our kids’ assessment results are not going to be tied to their teacher evaluations, but our kids still have to take these assessments,” noted Dana.

71-percent of West Seneca students opted out last year. It was one of the highest rates in the state.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
NYS Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia visited West Seneca last week.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia appeared in the district last week, explaining changes, such as a shorter test, to improve a student’s experience.      

“It’s admirable the changes that were made this year, based on feedback from educators,” stated Principal Brandon Pafk,Principal, Charter Middle School for Applied Technologies in Buffalo.

There were also a high opt out number at the charter school last year.

But Principal Pafk said they do not encourage opting out. He said it could hinder the school’s charter renewal when it comes to student progress. 

Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley
Inside a CSAT classroom at the north Buffalo location.

“Obviously we need to make A.Y.P., which is Annual Yearly Progress, and we want to avoid any reason for the state to look at wanting to put sanctions, even as far as closing us, as a charter school,’ explained Pafk.

But the charter school is promising students who opt out this season won't be required to 'sit and stare', but will be allowed to work on other classwork in another area of the school.

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