Refuse NYS testing because Common Core is broken

I have read many articles about why parents should refuse the New York State tests this year but this one by William Farmer is the one that I wish I would have written.

Will has captured my belief that the real problem is not the tests but the Common Core standards that the tests are designed to enforce as well as the refusal of many New York State officials, including Governor Cuomo, former NYS Commissioner John King and some members of the NYS Assembly, Senate and Board of Regents, to listen to the concerns raised about the Common Core standards, the tests and other associated educational changes.  There are problems with the NYS standardized tests themselves but just fixing the tests will not fix our education problems.

The key here isn’t that kids are spending too much time on “test prep” or the tests themselves. Rather, it’s that the standards upon which the tests are based are flawed and must be fixed.

It took a massive opt-out for the state to actually discuss correcting the problems they created.

New York state has admitted there are serious problems with the standards and it took four years to get to this point. The Education Department either lied to us or they were grossly negligent when rushing into Common Core.

Either option does not inspire parents to place our trust they will now do what is in the best interest of the students.

Like Will, I do not have much faith in the state officials who have discounted the voices of parents for the past four years.  Even now Commissioner Elia, while stating that parents do have the right to refuse the state tests, is still committed to the Common Core standards allowing for only minor adjustments as well as to the benefits of standardized testing.  I would like to believe that I can trust the promises for change that Commissioner Elia and Governor Cuomo have made but until I see real changes, codified in law, I believe that parents will need to continue to make their voices heard by opting-out/refusing the state tests.

 

No consequences for KCSD test refusal

I have heard from several parents who are concerned that Kingston City School District students will be penalized in some way if they refuse the New York State testing for grades 3-8 which begins tomorrow April 5, 2016.

Some students have been told by teachers that their opportunities for participating in KALP or taking honors courses would be hurt if they did not take the state tests.  This is not correct.  The state test scores are just one of several factors used in making decisions about KALP and honors courses in Kingston.  This has been confirmed with middle school principals and Dr. Padalino so parents/students can opt-out/REFUSE, if that is what they desire to do, without concern for KALP and/or honors course participation.

Many parents are also confused or concerned about refusing the state tests due to the letters sent home this past week from school administrators asking “for your consideration to NOT opt out your students”.  Most parents want to support their local teachers, schools and administrators and now if parents refuse the state tests, they are going directly against the stated wishes of those local teachers, schools and administrators.

The KCSD administration clearly stated, when they presented the Annual Summary Report to the Board of Education on Wednesday March 30, that they believe the data points they receive from the New York State tests provide them with valuable information to make decisions about how to teach our students.  The letters sent home to all elementary and middle school families this past week asked families to allow their students to take the state tests and participate in this collection of data.

I personally believe that the New York State tests actually cause harm to some students by inappropriately labeling them as failures year after year and that the tests have been used to force Common Core upon us and are part of a plan to break public education. Therefore I can not support the state testing or the use of the state tests to generate data even if the data is useful in some ways.  This opinion puts me ‘in conflict’ so to speak with our school district administration but it does not mean that I do not respect our administrators or that I can not work with them.  People who care about important issues often disagree with each other and must simply find ways to work together in spite of the disagreements.

I encourage all parents to determine what YOU feel is the right thing for your family to do regarding New York State testing.  Examine the information and then proceed with your decision.  Do not allow yourself to feel “intimidated” into a decision by anyone (myself included).  Also know that there are not supposed to be any rewards for students who take the New York State tests in the Kingston City School District or consequences for students who refuse the New York State tests.  If you are aware of a situation where a student is being rewarded or penalized for taking or refusing the state tests, speak to your principal and/or Dr. Padalino so the situation can be rectified.

Meeting for KHS Parents

Hey Kingston High School parents!

If you can make yourselves available, stop by the Kingston High School auditorium between 6-8pm tonight.

KHS guidance counselors will be speaking about the college application process, financial aid, scholarship, NCAA, College Board Testing and the college search process from 6-7pm.

The KHS PA meeting will follow at 7pm with a brief presentation from Ulster BOCES regarding the many programs available to students through the Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Center and then move into discussion of discipline changes before the Jefferson Committee and any other issues of interest/concern to parents at the meeting.

Support notification of parents about Test REFUSAL

I have a very personal request for friends and parents who are concerned about New York State testing and Common Core.
 
Please do not assume that everyone knows about the problems with the New York State tests, Common Core, etc. and will therefore REFUSE the tests for their own children and in support of the children around New York State. There are strong efforts all across the state from educatorsadministrators, newspapers, business people, and on the list goes to decrease test REFUSAL numbers in New York State this year. Also many who have been opposing testing are getting tired as this battle for our children’s education drags on.
 
If you understand the problems associated with the standardized tests, please share that information with other parents.
 
Also please financially support the fundraiser by Loy Gross and Deb Escobar of United to Counter the Core raising money for a Robocall this Sunday to let parents know about REFUSING the upcoming ELA and Math state tests. A single dollar allows for 25 calls; a $20 donation means the OPT-Out/Test REFUSAL message will reach 500 people.
 
I donated for the robocall and I hope you will as well.

Test REFUSAL in Kingston City School District

Letters went home to parents in at least two elementary schools (Edson and Crosby) in the Kingston City School District today telling parents that changes have been made in the New York State testing program and requesting that parents NOT opt their children out of the testing.  I anticipate that similar letters were sent home to parents in the remaining schools in the district or will be sent this week since the NYS ELA test begins next week April 5-7, 2016.

Crosby opt in letter
Crosby opt in letter
Edson opt in letter
Edson opt in letter

 

Even though parents are being encouraged to believe differently, nothing significant has changed with regard to the New York State testing.  The tests are shorter by a question or two but many kids will actually spend longer on testing because the tests are now untimed. Pearson still produced this year’s test questions even though NYS has signed a new contract with Questar. Who knows what the questions will be like as far as quality?  Also every single issue that has existed regarding the adverse impact of the tests for special ed and ELL students still exists.

Please continue to REFUSE the New York State ELA and Math tests for grades 3-8 this April 2016.

By refusing you can be an Upstander.  Even if you feel that your kids are not ‘hurt’ by taking the state tests, other kids are. When you refuse the state tests, you are helping to protect kids all throughout New York State.  Jeanette Deutermann clearly shares the reasons for opting-out in this video.

Deborah Torres Henning, a parent from the Wappingers Central School District who I am very proud to stand beside in the fight against Common Core, has also written an excellent piece on why it is important to refuse the state tests.

Instead of asking “why refuse?” we should be asking “why does the state want the children to take them so badly?”

•    240,000 children did not take the New York State Math and English Language Arts assessments last year.
•    The tests don’t count toward your child’s grades or promotional status.
•    The tests don’t count toward receiving or not receiving special services.
•    The tests are age and developmentally inappropriate.
•    The tests were already too long, and now they are untimed, making them longer.
•    The tests are developed by businessmen and corporations, not teachers.
•    The tests are just another form of data mining. Data is the name of the game.

The state wants you to believe it has dramatically decreased the number of test questions and effectively reduced the time it takes to complete taking the tests. The reduction of one or two test questions is not significant, and the tests are now untimed, which means longer, not shorter. New York State Education Department’s “changes” are as meaningless as the tests themselves.

For those who say, “My child does well on the tests,” what are they doing well on? They are doing well on following orders, filling in bubbles, and navigating an absurd myriad of age and content inappropriate test questions that do not measure what they are learning in class and have no bearing on where they will be placed the following year. All you see is a number (1-4), specific results are not given to school districts or to parents — so there is no information at all on what they’ve learned, where their strengths are, or where they need improvement. The tests do not have any bearing on whether or not your child will or will not receive  Academic Intervention Services or Response to Intervention Plan either.

Refusing the state tests does not mean your child will never have exposure to taking a test, nor does it mean you are teaching your child he or she doesn’t have to fulfill academic responsibility. Refusing means you are aware that these tests mean nothing, and you refuse to have your child be a guinea pig for the state and the test manufacturers.

School districts must make the tests available to all students, that does not mean they can force or “encourage” all students to take them. You have the option of refusing. Parents, you are the primary educator of your child, and you have first and final say. Parents’ rights supersede the rights of the school. Remember that. Always.

Your child provides free labor and research for the test manufacturers. Your schools have sold your child into indentured servitude in order to get grant money and the test manufacturers are cashing in.

The state Education Department and test manufacturers rely on your obedience to make your child take the tests, and they love to use threats to get you to do so. Don’t believe the threats you hear about losing funding or testing counting against your child’s teacher, these are scare tactics, and they work on people who don’t know the facts.

In a most recent development, our newly appointed Board of Regents Chancellor (and technically Commissioner Elia’s boss), Mrs. Betty Rosa, went on record to say, if she were a parent of a 3rd through 8th-grader today, she would refuse the tests. When the agency that supervises state Education Department and Mrs. Elia supports refusals, it is time for everyone to refuse!

I am for tests that measure my child’s growth and progress. I am for tests that give teachers and parents a dashboard to look at and pinpoint what questions they are struggling with or excelling in. I am for tests that are staggered throughout their school years and do not last for days. I am for meaningful testing.

I want my children educated when they go to school. I don’t send my children to test-taking school — I send them to school, just school. Please stop the rampant, abusive, useless testing and lets get back to educating the whole child. That won’t happen unless we all refuse these tests.

refusal_letter_2015-2016__8_

Update 4/4/16: Letters from other KCSD schools

Chambers opt in letter
Chambers opt in letter
GW testing letter
GW testing letter

 

GW testing letter in Spanish
GW testing letter in Spanish
JFK opt in letter
JFK opt in letter
Miller opt in letter
Miller opt in letter
Myer opt in letter
Myer opt in letter

Parent involvement in Middle School

reblogging from Alice Wellborn:

Middle school teachers appreciate parents who are involved with their children, communicate with teachers, and take part in the school community.  Many parents pull back during the middle school years, and become much less involved in school and the school community.  It’s hard to be a strong partner with teachers, because kids this age aren’t thrilled about parents coming to school, so parents who manage to stay involved are much appreciated!

continue reading

School Boards

On May 17, 2016 voters in the Kingston City School District will be electing three members to the school board.

With the upcoming election in mind, check out this excellent description of the responsibilities of both the school board and the community with regards to public education.  The author Alice Wellborn is a school psychologist who writes to strengthen parent/teacher partnerships.

The structure of American public education is grounded in local control, and that control is administered through a locally elected (or, in some cases, appointed) Board of Education.  Citizens (or their elected representatives) select school board members, who then oversee the public schools and serve as the liaison between the community and the school system.

Community members can express their ideas and opinions about public education through voting, communicating directly with school board members, attending board meetings, or even running for the school board.

Note that while Ms. Wellborn refers to some school board members being paid, school board members in Kingston are volunteers and do not receive payment for their service.  You will also find other relevant information in my Parent Guide to Kingston Board of Education Meetings.

Anyone wishing to run for a seat on the KCSD board of education should contact District Clerk Camille DiPerna at cdiperna@kingstoncityschools.org or (845) 943-3009 to obtain a candidate packet.

Board of Education sees need for change

The Patchogue-Medford school district Board of Education passed the following resolution on February 4, 2016. What an awesome example that other school boards could follow!
 
Whereas, the current Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents will be stepping-down in the Spring of 2016 and two positions on the Board of Regents will be subject to appointments beginning in April of 2016, and
Whereas, the members of the New York State Legislature are empowered with making appointments to the Board of Regents and the members of the Board of Regents are empowered with electing their Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, and
Whereas, the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford Union Free School District sees the need for change in the way public education in New York State is managed, be it
Resolved, that the Board of Education calls upon those legislators who are responsible for said appointments and those regents who will be choosing their leaders to assure the people of the state that the entire Board of Regents, especially the new regents , chancellor and vice-chancellor:
1. Be aware of and sympathetic to the concerns of parents of children in grades K though 12.
2. Understand that the Common Core Standards are chronologically and developmentally inappropriate.
3. Understand that high stakes testing benefits no student or teacher.
4. Support the notion that local control of education is essential to providing quality education for the children of the State of New York.
5. Support multiple pathways for children to achieve a high school diploma.
6. Advocate for Special Needs students and make the evaluation process fairer by reinstating the Regents Competency Tests.
7. Advocate for English Language Learners, as the Common Core has no provisions for them.
8. Lead, by example, in support of the public education system and trained professional educators who know that a “one size fits all” educational system is not beneficial to any student.
9. Be willing to continue moving forward to appropriate changes to and removal of the flawed Annual Professional Performance Review system and the untested, never-piloted Common Core Standards.
10. Be leaders, open to new and diverse ways and means suggested by the people of New York State and willing implement these strategies, when proven meaningful.
11. Be accessible to the general public and willing to meet with diverse groups around the state, in dialogue, about current educational issues.
and be it further
Resolved, that the District Clerk is directed to send this Resolution to the members of the New York State Legislature and the members of the New York State Board of Regents.

What NYSED “forgot” to tell you regarding Grades 3-8 NY State Tests

Reblogging The Rest of the Story

What NYSED forgot header

As part of the “tool kit” put together by Commissioner Elia and the NYSED, schools have started to distribute this flyer in an effort to coerce parents into participating in the 2016 Grade 3-8 Math and ELA tests.  Much of the information provided is true: but plenty of information has been conveniently omitted from this flyer as the Commissioner continues to try to deceive the public into thinking that these “changes” will benefit children.  Parents are not appeased because the bottom line is as such: testing still dominates their child’s educational experience.

Let’s take a closer look at what NYSED “forgot” to mention …

click here to continue reading

Helping parents navigate the ins and outs of public eductation in Kingston, New York