Education secretary says Feds may step in over Common Core opt-outs

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WASHINGTON D.C. — The federal government will be forced to step in if parents continue opting their children out of Common Core testing, according to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Asked Tuesday whether states need to do more to reduce the number of Common Core opt outs, Duncan replied: “We think most states will do that … If states don’t do that, then we have an obligation to step in.”

The remark comes as hundreds of thousands of students throughout the nation are opting out of the testing.

Chalkbeat New York reported of the situation in its state:

[A]n “opt out” advocacy group in New York reports that more than 184,000 students statewide out of about 1.1 million eligible test takers refused to take last week’s English exams. In New York City, nearly 3,100 students out of about 420,000 test takers opted out, according to the group. (Math testing begins Wednesday.)

Last year, 49,000 students statewide did not take the English exams, while just over 1,900 New York City students sat out the tests, state officials have said. State and city officials have not yet released their own opt-out counts this year or verified those of the advocacy group, United to Counter the Core, whose unofficial tally is based on information from district superintendents, school employees, and media reports.

Duncan didn’t give too many specifics about how the feds might step in, but some education officials have suggested that schools with too many opt outs could be labeled “failing” and have federal funds restricted.

The testing is important in part, Duncan said, to track achievement gaps between student groups.

“Folks in the civil rights community, folks in the disability community, they want their kids being assessed. They want to know if they are making progress or growth,” he said.