Great Neck Seems OK W/School Tests

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While parents all over New York State are protesting the state-mandated tests imposed on children in second grade through eighth grade, parents in Great Neck are not fighting the exams. There are no local protests. Great Neck School District Superintendent Thomas Dolan told the Great Neck Record that, so far, this is not a controversial issue in the community.

Dolan first explained that the choice for opting out of these relatively new state tests is a choice for parents, not for school districts. He explained that the decision as to whether or not to have young children take these tests, or not, is totally up to the individual parents. He added that it is up to the parents to come to a decision, based on each child and how they might react to such testing. Dolan told the Record that he feels that the testing, as well as the opt out (or the opt in) decision, should be derived at “in a responsible way.”

As for Great Neck parents opting out, he noted that “some do” (opt out), but “some don’t.” But, Dolan reiterated, “It’s not a school decision.” Lori Beth Schwartz, president of the school district’s United Parent-Teacher Council (UPTC) executive board, echoed Dolan’s thoughts, also emphasizing that the decision is totally in the hands of the parents.

With these standardized tests about to be given within weeks, many communities are seeing protests, sometimes huge ones. Just last week such a rally was held in Westbury, a community relatively close to Great Neck. As most of these Long Island protest rallies involve large crowds of vocal, often angry, parents and teachers, Great Neck appears relatively quiet on
the issue.

As the Record approached many parents, as well as some educators and parents with school-parent involvement, while they offered comments, none wanted their names published. Although the concern about having their names attached to any statements was apparent, they did offer some “off the record” comments. Again, as Dolan reported, some were for opting out, while others would allow their children to take these state-mandated tests. None reported strong feelings either way. Surprisingly, in view of the recent protests surrounding Great Neck, many did express a favorable view of testing in general, as a means to get a better handle on how their children were progressing in school.

In refusing to have their names published, which would identify individual students, parents said they did not fear repercussions from their school district, but instead “worried” about the publicity it would engender, as well as possible future reactions, perhaps from colleges, graduate schools, or even prejudice with state-wide test scores.

Although this testing issue is volatile in most communities and very quiet in Great Neck, one PTA parent did say that there is always the possibility that the testing issue is yet to come to the forefront, maybe still brewing under the surface. Schwartz is not so sure that there will be future problems.

Schwartz told the Record: “We have a wonderfully active, intelligent and diverse parent body in this community and we have the privilege of interacting with our officials on a regular basis. They know our position on the issues and how deeply we care about our public schools. Opting out, as a form of protest, has not resonated with most of our families in Great Neck as of yet.”

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