NYC’s test opt-out rate doubled in the wake of the pandemic

NYC’s test opt-out rate doubled in the wake of the pandemic

The epicenter of New York’s test refusal movement has long been outside the five boroughs, taking root in whiter and more affluent school districts, particularly on Long Island.

But since the pandemic, the share of families opting out of the annual state tests has more than doubled in New York City — even as the statewide rate has fallen.

The opt-out rate on the state English language arts exam in New York City grew from about 4% in 2019 to 8% in 2023, the most recent data available.

Across the state, the refusal rate dipped from nearly 19% to just below 14% over the same period, according to a recent analysis of district averages conducted by Olivia Ildefonso. She studied the opt-out movement as a graduate student and is CEO of a company called North Arrow that produced an interactive map that tracks test refusals in New York. (The analysis focuses only on the reading tests, though officials confirmed the New York City trends are similar for both the reading and math tests.)

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