My parents opted me out


Path To Graduation: Testing

Written & Produced By Nathan Schwed, Grade 8, Oneonta Middle School

With 22% of students in New York State not finishing high school in 2014, is now a good time to start testing against new standards? I asked two community leaders their thoughts on Common Core standards.

Senator James Seward represents the Oneonta-area in the New York State Senate. I asked Senator Seward his opinion.

“Well, I have some grave concerns about the Common Core, in particular, the way it has been rolled out here in New York State,” says Seward. “I think the State Education Department and Board of Regents, I think they’ve done a poor job of rolling out the Common Core.”

student headshot

Nathan Schwed, Youth Voice Student Producer

I also asked my school superintendent, Joseph Yelich. Mr. Yelich is superintendent of the Oneonta City School District in Upstate New York, and his opinion was more positive. “In addressing the issues of multiple skills over a spectrum, [Common Core] is probably a little better than it was before,” says Yelich.

The Common Core also causes confusion for parents.

“Certainly, parents have not been given sufficient time to become informed about what this Common Core is all about,” says Seward. In New York State, there has been a large opt-out movement. Parents can decide whether or not their child will take state tests aligned to the Common Core.

I was one of the students whose parents opted me out. On testing days, many of my 7th grade classmates sat quietly in a classroom or read a book. We weren’t allowed to talk, do anything, or even watch movies with just subtitles.

I asked Mr. Yelich: Why should we strive for better test grades when we can pass on just classwork?

“I don’t think you should worry about tests as much as anybody does,” says Yelich. “I think you should worry more about skills and more about performance. Pay attention to what you’re good at and what you want to be better at, and try to work for growth.”

I don’t like having large tests. If we had small tests every now and then, we could do more activities during classes. I think we would learn more.


This video was scripted, voiced, and edited by 8th grade student, Nathan Schwed. In partnership with the Oneonta Family YMCA, students explore education topics of personal interest while learning production skills from WSKG’s youth media curriculum.


American Graduation logo, CPB logo

American Graduate is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.