NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Elementary and middle school students in New York state will begin taking the controversial Common Core exams Tuesday, but some parents -- including Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino -- are having their children opt out.
The federally mandated tests for students in the third through eighth grades evaluate their skills in English language arts and math.
But Mary Calamia from the group Long Island United Against Common Core told WCBS 880's Monica Miller the tests "do absolutely nothing to help the students be better students."
New York State Students Set To Begin Common Core Testing
"The teachers don't know what's going to be on the test," Calamia said. "They spend an entire year teaching to the test, just hoping that the kids do well on the test.
"What I'm hearing from teachers now is that in the practice tests the kids were struggling. And they just walk away feeling stupid."
State Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn said the agency has launched its own campaign to encourage parents to have their children take the test.
"The state assessments offer an opportunity for educators and parents to gauge the progress a child is making toward the standards," Dunn said. "Why wouldn't a parent want to know how well his or her child is doing?"
The U.S. Department of Education is telling students that opting out could hurt a school's ability to meet the 95-percent test-preparation rate required by law.
Calamia said she wants to see local districts again develop standardized assessments.
"Nobody knows their students better, demographically and otherwise, than the local districts," she said.
On Monday, Astorino, the Westchester County executive, released a video on his campaign website saying he and his wife are protesting Common Core by opting out of the exams this week for their children in third and fifth grade.
Astorino called the standards "Cuomo's Common Core" and said New York's parents and teachers will lose local control over classrooms.
"Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of New York children, from third through eighth grade, will arrive at school and be told to serve as guinea pigs in one of the most untested education experiments in U.S. history," Astorino said.
Cuomo has criticized the Common Core rollout but supports the standards.
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