Saturday, April 4, 2015

Whose Side is NYSSBA On? | Bianca Tanis

Whose Side is NYSSBA On? | Bianca Tanis:

Whose Side is NYSSBA On?

As the opt out movement grows, questions about a parent’s right to refuse and potential loss of school funding persist despite the fact that test refusal has been in full swing for two years now with NO negative consequences for any school districts or students. According to the New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA) 2015advisory , Managing State Assessment Opt Outs, schools risk a loss of funding and unspecified penalties should less than 95% of students participate in the NYS State ELA and Math tests in grades 3-8. This is a patent falsehood, and a significant one, as this organization advises our local school boards and administrators.
According to the New York State Education Department (NYSED), under the ESEA waiver there is NO direct negative financial impact on a school district that does not meet the 95% participation rate if it is in good standing. In the worst-case scenario, a school in good standing that fails to meet the 95% rate for three consecutive years may be labeled a Local Assistance Plan (LAP) School. While the school will then be required to craft a plan detailing how it will seek to increase test participation, there is absolutely no impact on state aid or Title I monies, and the school district would continue to remain in good standing. These facts have been confirmed by Joseph Shibu of the NYSED Office of Accountability, and were recently reconfirmed in a March 24th, 2015 interview with Senior Deputy Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. You can read that interview here.
An April 2nd, 2015 interview credits NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer with saying, “If even a small percentage of children, 5%, boycott the English and math exams, then schools could risk federal sanctions or funding penalties.” The NYSBBA opt out advisory also warns that schools must be careful in how they handle opt outs: “Some district responses could have negative legal and financial consequences for both the district and school district officials.” Yet nowhere in the regulations or laws concerning education in NYS is there anything to indicate that schools stand to lose funding or Title I monies due to test refusal.
It should be noted that a 2014 survey conducted by the New York State Council Of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) revealed that 35% of superintendents self-reported that their schools did not meet the 95% participation rate, and that none of these districts have been found to have lost any funding. Despite the lack of evidence for loss of funding, NYSSBA stands by its baseless claims. By putting forth false information and utilizing scare tactics, NYSSBA has essentially robbed many local BOEs of the opportunity to advocate for parents who wish to refuse. This is especially true in districts that are significantly under-resourced where loss of funding would be especially devastating.
The fact is, at every turn, this organization discourages school districts from recognizing parents’ rights to protect their children from a controversial test that no one, save the child, may view. According to NYSSBA the “State Whose Side is NYSSBA On? | Bianca Tanis: