New York Test Boycott

K-12 Testing

Parents at two middle schools in New York City joined in a boycott of the state’s eighth grade English Language Arts exams this spring, following the example of Scarsdale, New York, parents who gained national attention for their boycott last year. Parents sent their children to school with notes saying that they were not to take the exams, despite warnings issued earlier this year by State Education Commissioner Richard Mills that all boycotters would be punished (see Examiner, Winter 2001-2002).

To protect their local superintendent from reprisals, parents in Scarsdale have said they may not pursue a boycott this year. The city Board of Education recently released a strongly worded statement opposing high-stakes testing and the mandated use of the state’s exams, saying that “a reliance on testing has not been shown to yield long-term growth in learning or meaningful education,” and “neither has it resulted in the fundamental improvements in teacher quality, class size, funding, and other resources that are required to overcome historic inequalities.”

Legal Appeal
Twenty schools joined together as the New York Performance Assessment Consortium asked a five-judge Appellate Division court to revise a trial-court decision which barred them from opting out of the state’s high school Regents exams (see Examiner Winter 2001-2002). The group claims that both the court and Commissioner Mills failed to provide necessary evidence before revoking a waiver of the testing requirement. A hearing on the appeal was held March 26, and a decision is expected in a few months. The appellate court can rule for the Consortium, send the case back to trial court, or deny the appeal. If the case is sent back, the Consortium hopes to attack the Regents exams themselves, exposing the tests’ weaknesses. If the Appellate Division panel denies the appeal on a split decision, the state’s highest court must review the case. Even if all five judges rule against them, the Consortium will appeal to the top court.