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Hicksville Axes Sit And Stare

The Hicksville School District is prepared to fight an uphill battle against New York State regarding changes they feel should be made to the Common Core Curriculum, as brought up at the March 12 Board of Education Meeting.

The Common Core Committee, formed by the district, brought a letter to the Board of Education regarding important and imperative changes they believe the state should take into consideration to help the initiative become increasingly successful and not something to fight against.

“The Common Core Committee outlined what the concerns were, and there are specific things we are asking to be changed in the Common Core and the APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) assessment,” explained superintendent Maureen Bright.

Some of these requests include abandoning the data portal/inBloom partnership and not sharing, storing or developing information about students: basing assessments for children with disabilities on instruction level, not chronological age; and using exams in a positive, not punitive way, to accurately measure student growth.

While the letter did not specifically address the APPR, Bright explained that the letter will resolve most of the gripes with the new assessment since it is tied to Common Core.

“We fully support the letter and we worked really well as a group,” said Brenda Judson, secretary and curriculum committee chair.

In addition, there was a resolve to the controversial “sit and stare” policy for students whose parents refuse to allow them to take the Common Core exams.

“At prior meetings, there were questions from parents who wanted their children to refuse the test,” explained Bright. “After receiving both the manual from the State as well as council from our attorneys, we have decided that we will be providing an alternate site within the school for the students.”

Bright explained that the children could write, read or draw and would be supervised, but would not receive any instruction that day so that the two groups of students would remain on the same level. In addition, Bright added that having the children whose parents refused the test out of the classrooms would create an optimal environment for the test takers without distractions.

To refuse the test, a parent must notify the principal of the school in writing up until the day of the test. The refusal cannot come directly from the student themselves. According to Bright, the students do have to put their name on the test this year, as opposed to last year when they were told not to mark their tests at all.

“We need to have physical proof that we can show to the State that shows that they were given the opportunity to take the exam,” Bright said. “As of right now, a very small number of parents have refused the test. Last year’s number was also very small.”

As of last week, Hicksville was one of only six on Long Island under the sit-and-stare policy. Tina Garbacki is the mother of elementary age school children who she is opting-out of the tests. She, along with several other parents, had been asking the board to change the sit-and-stare policy because they felt it was punishing children for a decision made by their parents.  

“I’m very happy that the board heard us and changed the policy. This is all we were asking for. It’s wonderful news,” Garbacki said.