In New York state, the movement to opt students out of tests has been gaining steam (and media attention) for months. While confirmed opt-out numbers aren’t available yet, advocates encouraging students not to be tested have been self-collecting and self-reporting student opt-out tallies. No one will know how close these numbers are to reality until the state releases its confirmed numbers later this year, eliminating false negatives and mislabeled students who didn’t take the assessments for reasons other than choosing to opt-out of the test. Yet given the appetite to declare victory by both sides of the debate, Education Post thought it important to do a quick analysis of this, likely generous, unofficial data. A few major take-aways:
Like last year, opt-out continues to be concentrated in suburban and affluent areas. Two of the wealthiest counties in New York with just 18 percent of the students account for more than 40 percent of the total opt outs in the state.
The number of students opting out is still comparatively small, especially in New York City. According to Chalkbeat New York, so far less than 1 percent of students in NYC opted-out, accounting for less than 2 percent of total opt-outs in the state.
District and union leadership makes a difference in ensuring students are participating in assessments. While the State union strongly advocated for opt-outs, making robocalls to push their agenda, the NYC union took a more measured approach that parents should have the option to have their children opt-out, without actually encouraging parents and students to skip the assessments.
Here is a comparison of how the opt-out movement was received in New York City and two nearby affluent, suburban communities. It’s a tale of two Americas and two very different responses to the opt-out movement: