Adirondack CSD-Incentive Plan to Participate in NYS Tests

On February 27, 2015, a parent of a middle school student in the Adirondack Central School District (ACSD) shared this photo of an Incentive Plan for State Assessments that was given to her child during English class after a spiel by the principal.  ACSD-Incentive

Opt Out CNY promptly put out a media release in response to this egregious misuse of power by school administrators.  That media release is available here:

Opt Out CNY issues statement on Adirondack CSD “Incentive Plan”

The “Incentive Plan” has already received a huge amount of attention both locally and across New York State.  The Utica Observer Dispatch ran this article yesterday around 5:00pm.  

Adirondack school incentive program criticized.

Parents are outraged and as conversation heated up on social media, more information about “the plan” was shared by parents from ACSD.  In addition to the incentives offered, students were also offered breakfast and candy bars in return for their participation in NYS tests.  Students were also told that their eligibility for advanced placement programs would be in jeopardy if they did not participate.

The fact that school leaders have resorted to bribing and coercing students into participating in exams speak volumes as to the misguided agenda of Governor Andrew Cuomo who continues support this culture of “test and punish” while withholding state aid runs until his education reforms are approved by the NYS legislature.  .  

Interestingly, thACSD-ActionAlerte idea of incentivizing through a raffle has been attempted before in New Jersey.  Of special note here in New York, it should be noted that the ACSD is asking students to participate in a raffle, which is in violation of the NYS Gaming Commission Guidelines for Conducting a Raffle, available here

Things didn’t work out so well in New Jersey. Pressure from the community forced the Morris Hills Regional District to offer an apology.  To make certain that Adirondack Central Schools do the same, Opt Out CNY is calling upon its members and the general public to share their thoughts with district officials.  Contact information can be seen in the “Action Alert” to the left, and is also available below.

How do we make certain that this type of bribery never happens again?  

*Refuse to participate in the tests.  

*Contact ACSD Officials:
      Mark Trabucco, Middle School Principal
      315-942-9202 x 45000

      Mr. Edward Nitzik, Superintendent
      315-942-9200 x 1800

      Nadine Medvit, D.A.S.A Coordinator
      315-942-9202 x4522

*Support  NYS Assemblyman Jim Tedisco’s legislation that would ensure “…students are not punished or rewarded for their participation or lack thereof in the exams ” as well as require that school districts notify parents that their children have a right to refuse NYS grade 3-8 Common Core aligned Math and ELA exams.

*Contact your elected officials.

*Attend an upcoming informational session

While the Adirondack region prides itself on its beauty, history, and traditional way of life, the Adirondack Central School District is clearly behind the times.  We invite them to join Opt Out CNY, a growing coalition of over 1,800 students, parents, educators and school administrators who advocate for children, ensure that our schools remain a safe place where all students feel welcome, and speak out against education reforms intended to privatize our public schools.  

Adirondack CSD-Incentive Plan to Participate in NYS Tests

Adirondack Central Schools: Irresponsible and Disrespectful

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  February 27, 2015
More information contact:
Jessica McNair 315-368-7550
Jamie McNair 315-368-5935
Opt Out CNY –

Parents of middle school students at Adirondack Central School recently received an announcement regarding a ‘Student Incentive Plan’ for the upcoming NYS ELA and Math exams.  According to the Incentive Plan students will be entered into drawings to win prizes for participation, improvement and performance on this year’s exams despite the well known fact that parents and students have a right to refuse to participate in the exams with no consequence to the student, teacher, or school.

Charlotte Witzigman, a West Leyden resident and parent of a 6th grader who received a copy of the incentive plan, is infuriated.  “I am beyond upset that school leaders, whose job it is to support and respect all students, are bribing 11 and 12 year olds to participate in a flawed exam that offers no meaningful data to the student or the teacher.  This type of coercion is unacceptable and calls to question the ethics of the leaders of our school.”

Parent advocate and co-founder of Opt Out CNY Jamie McNair states, “When I first saw the plan, I thought it was a joke.  Upon learning from parents in the Adirondack School District that this not only came home with their children but was distributed by the school principal, I was appalled.  In a time when communities across the state are rallying together to oppose Governor Cuomo’s flawed test and punish reform agenda, this sort of action just defies common sense and demonstrates an abuse of leadership.”

“My son was told he’d receive free breakfast and a candy bar if he participates in the test.  It can’t be any more clear that this is bribery,” said Coral Grenier, West Leyden resident and parent of a student at Adirondack Central Schools.  “Our public schools are places of inclusion, support and safety.  To have a school administrator create an environment that fosters competition for prizes around the controversial New York State Common Core Aligned high stakes tests is reprehensible and irresponsible.” added Grenier.

Pamela Howe, New Hartford resident and member of Opt Out CNY adds,  “I question if this practice is even legal.  Distributing prizes to those who participate and improve scores singles out those children who don’t participate or don’t improve scores.  School leaders have chosen to create a hostile school environment in which children don’t feel accepted or respected.”

“While this situation is certainly egregious, fortunately it is rare.  A good majority of schools in our region and across the state create a student-centered learning environment that emphasize determination and hard work while respecting the varied viewpoints of students, parents and the community,” noted McNair.

Last year an estimated 60,000 New York State students refused to participate in grade 3-8 Common Core Math and ELA tests and it’s expected that over 250,000 will refuse this spring.  Schools acting in the best interest of children and the community provide students who refuse tests the opportunity to read quietly or work in an alternate location.


Adirondack Central Schools: Irresponsible and Disrespectful

An Open Letter to Senator Griffo

Open letter to New York State Senator Joseph Griffo
February 25, 2015

Dear Senator Griffo;

We, your constituents, reached out to you this past week to ask for your help in defeating Governor Andrew Cuomo’s destructive proposals regarding public education. NONE of the education proposals contained in the Governor’s current “lost” Opportunity Agenda are good for kids.

When we speak with you or representatives from your office, we are told that we simply must accept, on behalf of OUR children, certain parts of the Governor’s plan and that “it’s just how things work in Albany.” We’re told that “there are many legislators who want more charter schools.” We’re told that many of the same legislators want to see the inappropriate tests that we give to our children, some as young as 8 years old, count for MORE.

Senator Griffo, you were elected by the people in our voting district to represent OUR best interests, not the best interests of your legislative counterparts or people that they are beholden to.

What sort of leadership looks at a child and says to that child that his or her test score will no longer account for 20%, but 50% of the factors which will determine whether or not their teacher will have a job the following year or, even worse, if their school will re-open?

Senator, if you want your legacy to be one which allowed for people from outside of your voting district to determine how you represented us and our children, you’re well on the way to achieving that. However, if you want to be seen as a champion for all children in real public schools, I believe that the many calls and letters you’ve received from us will serve as an outstanding guide.

Steve Shrey
Sauquoit, New York

An Open Letter to Senator Griffo