Parents, Students Protest Exams Constructively

WILLIAMSVILLE, NY - Thousands of parents and students statewide, refused to take state administered and mandated ELA (English Language Arts) exams Tuesday.

It's all part of a protest against the Common Core curriculum.

"We're refusing the whole system, the [whole] testing system," said Shirley Verrico, a parent in the Williamsville School District, who agreed to keep her 13-year-old daughter out of the 7th grade ELA exam. Instead, Verrico's daughter Michaela did some in-home schooling.

Verrico's daughter doesn't plan on taking the Common Core math exams later this month. Both Verrico and her daughter believe the Common Core learning standards fail students.

"My children get homework sent home based on the Common Core curriculum produced by the same people that produced this test and they're full of mistakes, there's homework where there's no correct answer due to typos or number series being left out," said Shirley Verrico.

In the Ken-Ton School District, Chris Cavarello has three kids -- one in the third, fifth and eight grades. All of them are refusing to take the ELA exams.

"Teacher evaluations are tied to student test scores now, so that was another big reason why we didn't want to participate in the testing," Cavarello said.

She allowed her kids to go to school Tuesday and says Ken-Ton students opting out this week can do reading in class. What students are allowed to do while refusing to take the exams is decided by the school district. Back in Williamsville, students can only read the standardized test. The other option is to sit in class.

"It's a little offensive as a parent, I think it's a way to coarse the kids to take it, if they're going to be sitting there and looking at it maybe they would be inclined to start filling it out," Verrico said.

"I don't want to go to school and just sit there, I want to do something because they let us read every single morning, so I don't know why they don't let us read," Michaela Verrico said.

Her fear is what will happen to Verrico Wednesday when she refuses, once again, to take the ELA exam.

School districts believe all along that students need to take the exams, because the tests measure how a student is progressing over time. And, if districts don't have enough students testing, this could impact schools financially.


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