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Some Rochester parents are encouraging others to say "Yes to the Test"

Apr 5, 2018

Supporters of the "Yes to the Test" campaign speak at the Urban League in Rochester
Credit Alex Crichton

A group of local parents and advocates are urging others not to opt out, but to say "yes to the test" when grade three through 8 English Language Arts and Math assessments start next week.

Stephen Sigmund is with the statewide coalition High Achievement New York.

He argues the annual ELA and Math tests are the only universal, statewide assessments that all students take.

"It's the only way to get a broad, statewide look at where students are on college and career proficiency," he said.  "And to look at differences between places like Rochester and other places around the state so that resources can be directed where they should go and need to go and to the kids who need it."

Some parents will have their kids opt out, but Shawnte Brooks of Rochester, who has four children, says "yes to the test," because the assessments show her where her kids stand.

"How far they have grown, and if they are lacking in ELA or in Math, so we can tutor them and help them, to see, you know, where they are," she said.

Parent and Senior Director of the Urban League of Rochester, Sebrone Johnson, says the tests are designed to help children who are slipping through the cracks of the education system and to give them an equal shot at success.

"Make sure they're prepared to go to a four-year school.  It's about making sure that if students are not testing at a satisfactory level, we can see if there are issues with our resource or environment that needs to be addressed," he said.

Johnson says much of the opt-out movement derives from the fact that the original Common Core rollout was flawed, and there's some residual feelings from that.

Opt out groups such as NYS Allies for Public Education oppose excessive testing.

They argue the tests tests are harmful, expensive, and a waste of time and valuable resources.

That group provides a test refusal letter on their website for parents who wish to have their children opt out of the assessments.

The ELA and Math exams begin next week.

Stephen Sigmund says his coalition is encouraging parents not to opt out of the ELA and Math assessments:

Parents Tanesha Lee, Ananesha Mack and Shawnte Brooks talk about why they are saying "yes to the test."