The U.S. Department of Education notified states last week of actions it may take, including financial penalties, if the percentage of students taking the tests falls below 95 percent. Of course, in New York in Spring 2015 that percentage fell to about 80 percent, and to about 50 percent on Long Island. The timing serves notice to those who have supported opt-out to oppose excessive testing and test prep and the fear they claim comes from tying student scores to teacher evaluations: students must take tests so that schools, districts and states can be assessed. Washington will not budge on this.
In New York, education reformers also have taken a huge step back, decoupling tests from teacher evaluations for four years and promising new achievement standards and better exams. Now the state must convince unions, parents and teachers that they have been accommodated as much as possible, and must get students to take the tests this spring. And they must get participation percentages up in districts that get little federal funding, because the whole state could lose funding if New York participation doesn’t reach 95 percent.
If poorer districts with generally low opt-out numbers lose federal money because richer districts with high opt-out percentages pull down the state numbers, Albany can and should make up that shortfall. It should take state aid away from high opt-out districts and award it to high-needs districts where nearly all the kids take the exams.
The threat that money will be taken away by the feds is as much jive this year as it was last year.
Does anyone really think that the Obama administration is going to take away school aid because of opt out in an election year?
The desperation of the deformers is clear as they use FEAR to try and stem the opt out movement.
The curtain has been pulled back on the Endless Testing regime and exposed for the empty compliance measure it is.
Deformers are desperately trying to get people back to believing that there's some meaning to the state testing regime.
If FEAR over their own kids won't work, then they'll use FEAR over the funding.
But given the political realities of the Obama administration thankfully sunsetting next year with an election held in November, their threats are empty ones.
That won't stop the fear-meisters at Newsday from trying to sow discord, of course.
But we can call this Newsday editorial what it is - fear-mongering - and the Newsday editors who published what they are - fear-meisters.