Friday, March 4, 2016

Newsflash: Long Island Students Overwhelmingly Opt Into Common Core-Aligned Tests

Thousands of high school juniors across Long Island will pull out their pencils and calculators Saturday morning for a revamped SAT college-admissions test that reflects the most extensive changes in a decade, including principles embodied in the nation’s Common Core academic standards.
That’s from today’s Newsday, which describes the unbridled participation in the Common Core-aligned SAT, despite Long Island's opt-out rate of 50% in New York’s state standardized assessments, also aligned with the Common Core.

Long Island comprises two counties, Nassau and Suffolk. Nassau is 77.3% white and Suffolk is 85.8% white. In rankings of wealth, Nassau is N.Y.’s third wealthiest county and Suffolk is fifth. According to Wikipedia, Long Island is “home to some of the wealthiest communities in the United States, including The Hamptons, on the East End of the South Shore of Suffolk County; the Gold Coast, in the vicinity of the island's North Shore, along Long Island Sound; and increasingly, the western shoreline of Brooklyn, facing Manhattan. In 2015, according to Business Insider, the 11962 zip code encompassing Sagaponack, within Southampton, was listed as the most expensive in the U.S. by real estate-listings site Property Shark, with a median home sale price of $5,125,000"
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What can we glean from this disparity in participation in two tests that both assess student readiness for college and careers?

First, the opt-out “movement” is confined to free tests that are not mandated by the state. The resistance is political, not content-based. Parents assured of their children’s acceptance to four-year colleges aren’t opting them out of Common Core-aligned tests; they just resent state mandates, especially when NYSTU, New York's teachers union, flood the airwaves with anti-standardized testing propaganda.

 In fact, in New York’s epicenter of anti-Common Core  militancy, parents are happy to pay through the nose for SAT review classes. Kaplan’s premier package is $5399, although  Princeton Review is a bargain at $1599.

New York City, which abuts Long Island, has the largest Hispanic population in America outside of Puerto Rico and a African-American population of over 25%. There parents opted their children out of state standardized tests of  1.4%.

Long Island families might want to study this missive from the nation's major civil rights groups:
There are some legitimate concerns about testing in schools that must be addressed. But instead of stimulating worthy discussions about over-testing, cultural bias in tests, and the misuse of test data, these activists would rather claim a false mantle of civil rights activism. At the heart of that debate is whether or not we will have the courage to make the necessary investments in each and every child, no matter their race, ethnicity, class, disability status, or first language. 
But we cannot fix what we cannot measure.  And abolishing the tests or sabotaging the validity of their results only makes it harder to identify and fix the deep-seated problems in our schools.
Now that's a lesson well worth some studying.

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