For Judy Griffith, very little about Common Core testing makes sense. The very different Common Core curriculum has dramatically altered classes and homework for students across the state since it was implemented last year. Many states started using Common Core -based curriculums, but did not test students on it in the first year since teachers and students had little time to adjust. Griffith's children are in the West Genesee School District and she believes the state is setting her honor roll students up to fail so the state can have artificially low baseline data.
"The state had already said that approximately 70% of children were going to fail and they were right. They're making the tests, they know the questions, and sure enough 70% of the children that took it last year failed," said Griffith.
Last year Griffith's children were among only a handful that opted out of Common Core testing in the West Genesee district. This year, the district is estimating that 97 kids opted out. That would equal about 4.43% overall. Griffith says many parents are learning that they have the option to refuse the tests and more families are considering it as a way to reduce stress on their children.
"On the bubble sheet the kids are taking, there is a little circle that says refuse. You are allowed to refuse the tests," said Griffith.
Tony Purchiaroni and his wife decided to have their three daughters opt out of Common Core testing in East Syracuse. Their daughters are all excellent students, but were frustrated by the Common Core test scores that said they needed improvement. Tony Purchiaroni believes that Common Core is too rigid, and was designed by politicians and businesses, not educators.
"These teachers are being given a playbook and they can not be creative. What did they go to school for if they can't use those skills?" said Purchiaroni.
If the Common Core testing participation rate at a school falls below 95% for two years it could be put on a state list for not making annual yearly progress. Superintendent Chris Brown and other area schools say the consequences of being on that list might affect state funding, but are unclear. Different districts may also have different consequences depending on several other factors.