By Elizabeth Harris and Ford Fessenden
It started with a speech in the fall, to parents who had gathered in the auditorium to learn what to expect during the nascent school year.
“I spoke at the open house and said, ‘We hope you’ll opt out of the tests,’ ” said Heather Roberts, vice president of the Bennett Intermediate School parent teacher association. Last year, 92 percent of eligible students in the Catskill Mountains district that includes Boiceville took their standardized English tests. “Jaws dropped.”
Soon there were forums, T-shirts with snappy slogans and fliers translated into Spanish. During pickups and play dates, in classrooms and at lunch, parents and students would ask one another: “Are you opting out?”
By the first day of testing in April, two of every three students in the district who were expected to take the exams were refusing to lift their pencils.
Across New York State, a small if vocal movement urging a rejection of standardized exams took off this year, maturing from scattered displays of disobedience into a widespread rebuke of state testing policies.
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