By Tom Momberg

The state Education Department released results of spring standardized tests for grades three through eight last week, revealing that Queens students had achieved some of the highest performance levels in both the city and state.

Queens sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders achieved higher average math scores than students in any other borough. Fifth-graders from Queens averaged the highest scores in the city in both math and English Language Arts tests, or ELA, on which 35.7 percent of them demonstrated proficient levels of reading and writing, and 49.1 percent achieved a proficient score in math.

Students in the borough also beat out the rest of the state. About 31.3 percent of students from around the state in third- through eighth-grade who took the ELA tests scored proficient, up from 30.6 percent in 2014. About 38.1 percent of students scored proficient on state standardized math tests, up from 36.2 percent in 2014 and 31.1 percent in 2013.

But 35.4 percent of students who took ELA tests in Queens scored proficient, and 42.1 percent of them scored proficient in math, averaging better than the rest of the state and the city as a whole.

Even though the borough’s students did well on the standardized tests, which apply state Common Core testing standards, there has been a growing movement across the state of as parents refuse to have their children take the ELA and math tests.

Nearly 20 percent of students from around the state had opted out of taking at least one test or the other, but less than 2 percent of city students refused to take the tests, according to data collected by NYSED.

Without using the language “opt out,” parents are able to submit refusal forms prior to the administering of the tests and be counted as “not tested,” according to NYSED’s Student Information Repository System Manual.

But all schools are required by the state Education Department in cooperation with the federal No Child Left Behind Act to have a 95 percent participation rate in state testing in grades three through eight. There is no provision under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment of the act allowing parents to “opt” their children out of testing.

Despite progress in student scores throughout the state, parents who refuse the tests for their children cite the growing difficulty of Common Core standards as a reason. Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a plan to use the scores at least partly for teacher evaluations earlier this year, which is why the opt-out movement grew throughout the rest of the state.

State and federal education officials could impose punishments such as withholding funds for districts with low participation rates, under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but the city DOE does not face such a situation.

Actually, more than 36 percent of ELA test refusals and about 35 percent of math test refusals in the city were for students with disabilities, according to state DOE data.

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