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Parents group urges students to opt out of standardized tests

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A parents organization in the Westhill School District in Onondaga County is asking families to consider having their third through eighth graders refuse to take the next round of state english and math tests.  The group called Westhill Elementary Schools Together, or "WEST," is concerned about the way the tests are constructed and potentially used by the state in connection with teacher evaluations.  

Cyndi Hynes' two children took the state English language arts and math tests last spring.  This year they are opting out.

"Because we really want to make a point to Albany, that they’re taking it too far," said Hynes, co-president of WEST. She believes there’s too much stress on students and teachers from tests that are badly created, and she doesn’t like tying those test results to teacher evaluations.

Hynes and the group's other co-president, Denise Gonella, say they hope more students refuse to take the test this year. Gonella, whose daughter refused the test last year and will do it again this year, says an email sent to families first and foremost will clear up any misinformation about the issue.

"Parents have the right to refuse testing," said Gonella. "And if a school is telling them they can’t, and they have to take a test, that is not correct.  So part of our goal here is to provide correct information so parents can make the right choice of their child.” 

Last year about 10 percent of the students at Westhill opted out. Gonella says if enough students boycott the tests, then Albany will get the message that they are not happy with the testing regimen in place now.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.