In an act of mass civil disobedience, tens of thousands of parents in New York state had their children boycott the annual English Language Arts exam this week. At some Long Island and upstate school districts, abstention levels reached 80 percent. Protest organizers say at least 155,000 pupils opted out — and that is with only half of school districts tallied so far. The action is seen as a significant challenge to the education agenda of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and to standardized testing nationwide. More than a decade after the passage of No Child Left Behind, educators, parents and students nationwide are protesting the preponderant reliance on high-stakes standardized testing, saying it gives undue importance to ambiguous data and compromises learning in favor of test prep. We speak to Jack Bierwirth, superintendent of Herricks Public Schools in Long Island, and parent Toni Smith-Thompson, who led the boycott against standardized testing at Central Park East 1 Elementary School in East Harlem.
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