Join in REFUSING the tests April 2015

Experiences of students REFUSING the NYS tests in KCSD

Kingston parents REFUSING the NYS tests for your children – how did the testing weeks go for your kids?

My 8th grade daughter had a relatively stress-free TEST REFUSAL experience at Bailey during the NYS ELA test.  She wasn’t terribly comfortable sitting for three hours on the bleachers in the gym on Tuesday but Bailey had a lot of kids REFUSING and I felt they did a pretty good job accommodating the students.  I was very happy when I heard that they brought in tables and chairs for all of the 8th graders to sit on in the gym on the second day of testing.

My daughter actually hasn’t been either a test-taker or a test refuser during the NYS math test.  She is taking the Regents Algebra class and Earth Science and her class was told just before the ELA test started that the Regents Algebra students wouldn’t be taking the 8th grade NYS math test.  Instead she has been doing some math and some science with her classroom teachers during the testing period.  She would have preferred to be in the REFUSAL room and having time to read but the extra time to prepare for the upcoming Regents tests that she will be taking in June will be more beneficial for her in the long run.

I think that, in general, the Kingston district has followed their intent stated last year of ‘treating all students with respect and compassion.’ However I have heard of several areas of concern which I present so they can be clarified and/or addressed for next year should we still be stuck with unresolved issues and, as parents, feel compelled to REFUSE the tests again (I hope not!)

Bribe/reward for test-takers:  Parents reported that at JFK there was a perception that candy/gum was being used as a bribe or reward for test-takers.  At least some children taking the tests received candy or gum and some children who REFUSED the tests felt that they did not get candy/gum because they did not take the tests.  At Miller some parents reported that test-taking students were able to watch movies after testing was finished but TEST REFUSERS had to sit silently the entire time and were even threatened with suspension if they were not silent.

Practice test packets for TEST REFUSERS:  Crosby had practice test packets for students who REFUSED the test this year in Kingston. This was a school-by-school decision as it was not all schools who did it. At least one class at Graves had a practice test packet on the first day of ELA but it was changed after a parent spoke to the principal.  I think it was a teacher decision at Graves rather than school-wide.  The fact that a change was made shows responsiveness to parental concerns.  The principal at Crosby made the decision for REFUSING students to have to do test prep booklets as their ‘alternate educational activity’ and would not change the activity even though a parent asked for something different and even volunteered to come in and do an activity with the students if staffing was limited.

I  have been somewhat worried all along when parents have asked/demanded ‘alternative educational activities’ during testing (what might these activities end up being?) but deciding for them to be practice tests is particularly offensive when the parents are REFUSING TESTING. A parent says “I don’t want my child to take the test because I have concerns about the test” and the educator says “Okay, I will just give them a practice test instead.” Does that mean the educator did not really understand what the parent is expressing concern about or is the educator deliberately trying to offend?

Unexcused absence:  Parents at Bailey who brought their REFUSING student to school after the testing time completed (so the student would not just have to sit in a large room for three (3) hours which is a long time even though they can read) learned that the absence/late arrive was going to be marked as UNEXCUSED even though a note was submitted by the parent.

To end on a positive note, Bailey students are only in the testing rooms for two hours for the math test this week rather than for three hours as was the case for ELA.   This is a considerable reduction in time being taken up by the tests for most students. Thank you Bailey!