Elia Clarifies Position On Opting Out

Aug 31, 2015

Credit Karen DeWitt

New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia is clarifying her stand on the opt out movement in an interview with public radio and television. As Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports, 20 percent of children this year boycotted the tests associated with the Common Core learning standards.

Commissioner Elia says parents “absolutely” have the right to opt their kids out of state standardized tests, but she says she still wants to talk to them to try to bring them back to the fold.

“We haven’t done enough communication,” Elia said. “But if parents understand it and they still want their child to opt out, that certainly is their right.”

She admits the tests “have problems” and are “too long.”

Elia says school superintendents with high test boycott rates have requested that she put together a “tool kit” on how to reverse the trend . She says they wanted her to talk to SED lawyers on the legalities of opting out; she says some may have misinterpreted those remarks as a “threat,” but she says that is not the case.

Elia says the state has contracted with a new testing company, and teachers will have more say in the content of the exams beginning in the 2017 school year.