Saturday, December 7, 2013

Let's clear up the mystery on the 999 Refusals


There is much confusion over students who "refuse" or opt out of the NYS Assessments.  Schools are often unsure how to proceed when first confronted with families who choose to boycott the state assessment system.

 The 2013-14 SIRS Manual makes it very clear:

"Refusal: Students who refuse to take the entire test must be reported at the local
level with a final score of "999" and a standard achieved code of 96, indicating refusal,
whether or not there are any response records. Assessment records for these students
do not move to Level 2 of the Student Information Repository System. These students
will be considered to have "no valid test score" and will be counted as not tested in
verification reports and for accountability calculations. Students who refused to take one
or more but not all sessions or parts of the test will receive no credit for the session(s) or
part(s) they refused to take, and a scale score and performance level will be calculated
based on the questions answered."

The key quote explains it all:
" These students (refusals) will be considered to have "no valid test score" and will be counted as not tested "

If your child "refuses" to take the NYS Grade 3-8 ELA, math or science assessments it is as if your child did not take the exam at all.  Your child does not receive a zero or one as their score.  As a result of having "no valid test score" your child cannot be compelled to enter the Academic Intervention Services (AIS) program because they did not receive a score to qualify them for the extra help. (Note: if you refuse, you can still work with your child's school to receive AIS if you feel your child needs the extra support)

Use this information when you communicate with your child's school.  Some administrators are not aware of these provisions, while others may use scare tactics to convince you not to opt out or refuse.  Stick to the facts, they appear right in the SIRS Manual.