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Schools In Westchester Reporting High Test Opt-Out Rates

Ossining was among the school districts reporting high "opt out" rates this week for seventh and eighth graders taking the state English Language Arts tests.
Ossining was among the school districts reporting high "opt out" rates this week for seventh and eighth graders taking the state English Language Arts tests. Photo Credit: File photo

This story has been updated.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Some school districts in Westchester are reporting high "opt out" or parent refusal rates on standardized tests being conducted statewide this week.

Valhalla Union Free School District reported opt-out rates of 23 percent for grades three through five -- where 75 of 331 eligible students opted out of the English Language Arts (ELA) assessment. The opt-out rate was 35 percent for grades six through eight, where 132 of 375 eligible Valhalla students opted out of taking this week's tests.

Yorktown Central School District reported that 30 percent of its elementary school pupils opted out of the ELA assessment. And 27 percent of Yorktown's middle school students opted out.

Ossining reported opt-out figures of between 12 and 28 percent depending on the grade level of those taking the state English Language Arts assessment.

A total of 402 Ossining students opted out in grades three through eight of 2,122 eligible test-takers. That averages out to about 19 percent opting out. But in individual grades at Ossining's Anne M. Dorner Middle School, the opt-out rates were as high as 27 percent for the eighth grade and 28 percent for the seventh grade.

Ossining Schools Superintedent Raymond Sanchez said, "We are respecting the decision of all parents. ... The truth is we do need to sit down and carefully look at how to come to a resolution on this."

Administrators at Elmford and Port Chester reported lower levels of students opting out of this week's test.

Joseph Ricca, Elmsford superintendent of schools, said a total of 42 of his eligible 454 students opted out -- or about 9 percent of the students in grades 3 through 8.

Port Chester reported even lower percentages. Only 20 of Port Chester's 1,068 middle school students opted out. At the elementary school level, just 26 of 2,160 students opted out.

"I wouldn't say that we do better. We're doing what we're required to do,'' said Carlos B. Sánchez, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment at Port Chester School District.

Carlos Sanchez said there has not been a grassroots effort in Port Chester to encourage students to opt out. "Our parents, and I guess the community, have approached the whole issue differently."

About one million New York public school students are expected to start taking the tests this week, Daily Voice reported earlier this week.

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