Tag Archives: Common Core

includes Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, APPR and data collection/mining/privacy

Common Sense Education Lobby Day – June 17, 2014

Common Sense Education Lobby Day Ulster flyer

Please come to Albany with me on June 17 to participate in Common Sense Education Lobby Day.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D, NYS Assemblyman Ed Ra, NYS Assemblyman Al Graf and NYS Senator Lee Zeldin will be speaking at the 11am rally and then we will be meeting with our legislators Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk to lobby for a withdrawal from Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, and data mining; a restoration of control of curriculum to local school districts.

Albany Lobby Day press release  **see below**

Local radio celebrity, Richie Phillips, from 107.7 WGNA will entertain the crowd with a live performance of his original song, “Cure for the Common Core.” at Common Sense Education Lobby Day in Albany, NY 6/17/14.

Common Sense Education Lobby Day in spirit

Contact me for information on car pooling or more details about the local group traveling to Albany for Common Sense Education Lobby Day.

Related post here.

**UPDATE: The press release link above no longer works.  For an unknown reason, the press release was removed from the WNYT website ( events.wnyt.com ) the day after being posted.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Parent Groups to Attend Albany Lobby Day; Demand NYS Withdraws from Common Core Standards

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Assemblymen Ed Ra and Al Graf, and Senator Lee Zeldin to address crowd of parents, teachers, and grassroots organizers

Date: Tuesday June 17, 2014

Location: Legislative Office Building, 198 State Street, Albany, NY 12210

Press Conference:
10:00 am – 10:45 am; LCA Room, Room 130

11:00 am – 12 noon; “The Well”

CONTACT: Mary Calamia, 631-835-1824, UnitedAgainstCC@gmail.com
Nationally renowned Common Core expert, Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas, will be addressing New York State parents and grassroots organizers in “The Well” at the Legislative Office Building, 198 State Street, Albany, NY 12210, on June 17th at 11:00 am. Dr. Stotsky’s speech will kick off “Common Sense Education Lobby Day,” during which the attendees will meet with NYS legislators to lobby for a withdrawal from Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, and data mining; the group seeks to restore control of curriculum to local school districts.
Dr. Stotsky was a member of the original Common Core Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing and approving the Common Core standards. She refused to endorse the Common Core standards as internationally benchmarked, rigorous, and research-based and is now an outspoken Common Core critic, advocating instead for internationally benchmarked academic standards for K-12 in mathematics and English language arts that will fulfill the goals intended for Common Core. Dr. Stotsky will be discussing educational reform and what she suggests we need to do to strengthen the American educational system.
Also addressing the crowd will be Lobby Day sponsor, NYS Assemblyman Ed Ra, along with Assemblyman Al Graf and Senator Lee Zeldin, who have sponsored legislation to halt the implementation of Common Core in New York State and create a multidisciplinary blue-ribbon panel to evaluate the standards and determine their appropriateness for New York State schools.
Local radio celebrity, Richie Phillips, from 107.7 WGNA will entertain the crowd with a live performance of his original song, “Cure for the Common Core.”

A press conference will be at 10:00 am in Room 130, prior to the event.

PJSTA Approves Resolution to Oppose Common Core

How exciting that the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association felt able to take the bold step to approve a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards.

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely preparation for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice; and

WHEREAS, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were developed by non-practitioners, such as test and curriculum publishers, as well as education reform foundations, such as the Gates and Broad Foundations, and as a result the CCSS better reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were piloted incorrectly, have been implemented too quickly, and as a result have produced numerous developmentally inappropriate expectations that do not reflect the learning needs of many students; and

WHEREAS, imposition of the Common Core State Standards adversely impacts students of highest need, including students of color, impoverished students, English language learners, and students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards emphasize pedagogical techniques, such as close reading, out of proportion to the actual value of these methods – and as a result distort instruction and remove instructional materials from their social context; and

WHEREAS, despite the efforts of our union to provide support to teachers, the significant time, effort, and expense associated with modifying curricula to the Common Core State Standards interferes and takes resources away from work developing appropriate and engaging courses of study; and

WHEREAS, the assessments that accompany the Common Core State Standards (PARCC and Smarter Balance) are not transparent in that – teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available given the nature of computer adaptive tests; and

WHEREAS, Common Core assessments disrupt student learning, consuming tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration; and

WHEREAS, the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards – including the political manipulation of test scores – are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the PJSTA opposes the Common Core State Standards (and the aligned tests) as a framework for teaching and learning;

Read the full resolution here directly from their website.

Toxic Culture of Education – Joshua Katz at TEDxUniversityofAkron

Please give the kids of Kingston 17 minutes to hear Joshua Katz, a high school math teacher in Florida, clearly explain what is wrong with the current state of education (its not the students and teachers!), this ‘Toxic Culture of Education’, and what we can do to get out of it.

Toxic Culture of Education –  Joshua Katz at TEDxUniversityofAkron

Joshua’s Talk:
In the mid 1800′s, Horace Mann captured the potential impact of education on society. We have yet to realize the potential he saw, and in fact, we are missing the mark by a wider and wider margin. We have created a “Toxic Culture of Education” in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools. We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students. The impact is being felt in communities, on college campuses, and in our economy. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask “Why Not”?


New York’s new standards sidelined by Common Core

New York was nearly ready to launch a new set of standards back in 2010, starting with English Language Arts, that sound like they were being put together the right way: local teacher input, public forums, better balance between literature and informational texts, support for English-language learners, de-emphasis on testing, and a lot of the decisions being left to the local schools.

Along comes CCSS and the dangled Race to the Top money and out goes New York’s new standards which would have been a better route.

“The board grabbed the money from ‘race to the bottom’ and tossed out all the work we had done,” said Cohen, a former president of Queens College who served as an at-large regent from 1993 until 2010. “I was very upset, because the national standards weren’t as good. Now we have this mess.”

Read how New York’s school reform was sidelined by Common Core here.

Kingston parents refuse the state standardized tests!




Green Laces

Kingston refusal percentages doubled on the state math test!

Dr. Padalino reported to the Kingston school board of education (BOE) last night that 24% of students grades 3-8 refused the state math test administered last week.  The percentage was highest in the middle schools with both middle schools having about a 30% refusal rate for the math test.  The math test refusal percentage is more than doubled from the 10.7% of students grades 3-8 who refused the ELA state test when it was administered the beginning of April.

For the state math test, 8 of the 9 Kingston schools fell below 95% participation.  J.F. Kennedy was the only school that had 95% or more participation in the state math test.  For the ELA test only one school fell below 95% participation (J.W. Bailey middle school).

You might be wondering, what is the big deal with this 95% participation?  The answer is, No Child Left Behind requires 95% participation on state tests or else ….  The ‘or else’ has been unclear and much debated with many believing that a district will lose some of their funding if the 95% participation is not achieved.  This article from New York State Allies for Public Education details why those advocating for state test refusal do not believe districts will lose funding for falling below the 95% participation rate.

When the board inquired what the refusal rates would mean for the Kingston school district, Dr. Padalino stated that it was not clear what would happen.  The initial understanding was that a participation rate less than 95% would cause a school to be identified as a focus school but now the state is saying that they might average the rates from the last 2 years.  It seems that the state education department might not have understood the refusal situation that could/would occur in Kingston or throughout the state.  The impact on APPR is also unknown according to Dr. Padalino.


It is time for Kingston parents to REFUSE the New York State Math Test

iREFUSE Math test

Up to this point I have not publicly stated that parents should refuse the New York State tests.  I have provided information for those who were looking for information and might not know where to find it.  I have shared the personal decision of my family to refuse the state tests for our student but I have not advocated that Kingston parents as a whole should band together in REFUSAL of the New York State tests.  However, after attending the screening of “Standardized – Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education” today, I feel compelled to take a personal stand regarding testing and ask parents in Kingston to REFUSE the New York State math test which starts this Wednesday April 30, 2014.

Green Laces

I have already shared my personal thoughts regarding the lack of value I find in the state tests for my middle school student.  Her green laces indicate that she does not support standardized testing.  Many are writing personal stories and/or scholarly articles regarding testing.  Some support standardized testing, some are against standardized testing.

You can find reasons why New York State thinks your student should take the test both on our local KCSD website and engageNY.org .

Here are some links for you to consider about why you might chose to have your student REFUSE the state test:

Refuse the tests in 2014 – the tipping point – a teacher, from a district even more diverse than Kingston, writes of the impact last year’s test had on students and the fears for this year

(excerpts from Refuse the tests in 2014 – the tipping point )

We – all of us – are allowing these children to be harmed, abused and denied their right to a creative, innovative, humane and democratic education.  We are denying children the opportunity to BE children. We are denying these children their futures. We have helped create this, due to trust, due to not knowing, due to lack of support, due to many things – but we must take responsibility for it, and together, stand up and make it right.

As we watch children test daily and lose precious learning time,

As we watch children say, while shuddering, “I am scared that my score will harm my teacher – I am afraid I will get her fired,”

As we watch children pull their hair out, bite their nails to the quick, throw up, and cry,

We need educators, parents, and citizens, standing together – now – to stop this. We cannot do it alone. And the silence is deafening.  There is nothing left to fear as we have lost it all.

We have pockets of resistance. We have swellings of resistance. We must have mass resistance. And we must not compromise. Common core and high stakes testing, both must go, if we truly plan to stand up for children and demand that they receive all of the resources, all of the authentic teaching and learning received by Obama’s children at Sidwell.


We Need to Talk about the Test – Principal Elizabeth Phillips from New York City explains why her school held a protest rally the day after the ELA test the beginning of April

(excerpts from Principal Phillips’ op-ed article We Need to Talk about the Test in The New York Times April 9, 2014)

I’D like to tell you what was wrong with the tests my students took last week, but I can’t. Pearson’s $32 million contract with New York State to design the exams prohibits the state from making the tests public and imposes a gag order on educators who administer them. So teachers watched hundreds of thousands of children in grades 3 to 8 sit for between 70 and 180 minutes per day for three days taking a state English Language Arts exam that does a poor job of testing reading comprehension, and yet we’re not allowed to point out what the problems were.

I want to be clear: We were not protesting testing; we were not protesting the Common Core standards. We were protesting the fact that we had just witnessed children being asked to answer questions that had little bearing on their reading ability and yet had huge stakes for students, teachers, principals and schools.

In general terms, the tests were confusing, developmentally inappropriate and not well aligned with the Common Core standards. The questions were focused on small details in the passages, rather than on overall comprehension, and many were ambiguous.


11 problems created by the standardized testing obsession – The Washington Post April 22, 2014

NYS Students and Teachers Feedback 2014 video


Diane Ravitch writes that by REFUSING the state tests, we deny the data that is needed to keep the testing machine going.  Perhaps your student is not currently being hurt by the tests but other children are being damaged by the standardized tests.  Please join together as Kingston parents and parents throughout New York State and lets put a stop to this madness!

Do additional research if you need to.  E-mail or call me if you want to talk further about the topic.  Please consider being a part of bringing about change for the students of New York State by REFUSING the New York State math test this week (April 30, May 1 and May 2, 2014).

Find instructions for refusing the state test here.



Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on these pages are the personal opinions of myself, Jolyn Safron, and have not been endorsed or approved by the parent groups of which I am a part unless explicitly stated.

KCSD 2014-2015 Budget being APPROVED at Board of Education meeting tonight!

The agenda is available for the Board of Education meeting tonight and the item that SHOULD be the primary discussion tonight is the approval of the budget for next school year.  However the budget is simply listed as resolution B89 in the consent agenda!  I am hoping that it will be removed from the consent agenda so there will be some discussion by the Board of Ed tonight before it is approved in preparation for the public vote on May 20, 2014.

UPDATE:  The draft budget on the district website dated 4/7/14 is NOT the budget being approved tonight.  The budget being approved is dated 4/14/14 and has a tax levy of 1.51% so there are additional reductions from what is listed in the draft on the website.

I am concerned as to whether the public has had adequate opportunity to review the budget, ask questions, and give feedback to the board of ed yet.  The first announcement of the draft budget that I saw was posted on the school district website yesterday April 22, 2014 here .  Just went searching back through old e-mails though and discovered that I missed a very brief announcement a week ago.  Went back to the week-ending district summary for April 11 and found this line – “To review  a draft version of the budget, take our survey, or find your voting location  please visit http://www.kingstoncityschools.org/budget.cfm.”  I have to admit that I was slightly distracted by a big birthday party and frantic packing for a trip that day (what should have been the Friday before spring break if not for all our snow days) – oops!

Whether you are reviewing the budget today or did catch a glimpse of it on April 11, comments submitted directly to board members during the day today or during public comment tonight are your last chance to ask questions or make an impact on the budget so don’t miss out!

The Board of Ed meeting is being held at Miller Middle School.  The meeting will begin at 6pm with a welcome from Principal Jo Burruby and then go to executive session.  Public session is anticipated to resume at 7pm with any actions coming out of executive session and then going into public comment.

In addition to the district budget for the 2014-2015 school year, the Superintendent’s Report contains 2nd Century Project (KHS), a School Safety Excellence Award and Common Core Testing.  A variety of personnel resolutions are on the agenda including ones having to do with Assistant Superintendent Marystephanie Corsones.

First reading of the following policies are also scheduled for tonight:

  • Policy 1530 Smoking and Other Tobacco Use on School Premises
  • Policy 4321.3 Allocation of Space for Special Education Programs
  • Policy 4321.8 Impartial Hearing Officer Appointment and Compensation


Governor Cuomo says Common Core testing is unfair

Have you seen Governor Cuomo’s commercial where he says that testing on the Common Core is ‘premature’, ‘creates anxiety’ and ‘unfair’?  I don’t watch much television so haven’t seen it on TV but here is the commercial on the internet.

According to this Newsday article, the commercial began airing on March 2, 2014 and was paid for by Cuomo’s re-election campaign.  While Governor Cuomo admitted the tests are not good for the children, he made no acknowledgment of the fact that the teachers should not be rated on “premature”, “anxiety-creating” and “unfair” tests as part of his commercial.  Governor Cuomo was the person who pushed through the entire APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) system which tied the teacher rating system to the state standardized tests.  This April 1 article was the first hint that Governor Cuomo is starting to finally realize that the state standardized tests might also not be the best way to rate the teachers:

“If you said Common Core testing was premature for the students, and you just halted the grades on the transcripts, then what is your opinion about the impact of Common Core testing on teacher evaluations, and what should be done?” he continued.  “That is an issue that we have not addressed and that we need to address before the end of session, in my opinion, depending on what happens.” – Capital New York April 1, 2014

You might have heard that provisions were made in the New York State budget bill that are significantly helping our students in the area of high-stakes testing.  However these ‘signature reforms’ don’t actually pan out when examined closely as explained in this article.  The changes to keep state tests scores off report cards, limit the amount of testing and not allow testing to be used for promotion are inconsequential for Kingston students.  For Kingston students, state test scores have never appeared on report cards, they have never been a factor in grade promotion, and kindergarten through second grade students have never had to take the state standardized tests.  There are lots of problems with the state tests but not those particular items.  Our students are still taking, in the words of Governor Cuomo, “premature”, “anxiety-creating” and “unfair” tests unless parents choose to refuse the state tests!

Governor Cuomo has reaffirmed my belief that my student should REFUSE the state tests.  Here are some of my reasons for our refusal of the New York State ELA and Math tests.

Green Laces

Here is information on how to refuse the upcoming state math test for your student if you agree with Governor Cuomo.


Jolyn Safron’s Statement on Testing

Green Laces

At the request of the Kingston City School District to consider the advantages of encouraging my child to come to school well-rested and prepared to participate in the upcoming New York State math assessments beginning on April 30, 2014, this parent has considered the request and I would like to present my response.

KCSD Statement on Testing – April 10, 2014

The Kingston City School District respectfully requests that all parents consider the advantages of encouraging their children to come to school well-rested and prepared to participate in the upcoming New York State assessments. Participating in these tests has benefits for the individual student, their classmates, their teachers, and their school community as a whole.

I have been thinking and thinking about what possible benefit taking the upcoming New York State math assessment could possibly have for my child.

  • If she takes the math assessment, she will be sitting in a room taking a test that serves no useful purpose for her personally for 9 hours*.
  • If she refuses the test she can use that time to do something she enjoys immensely and which builds vocabulary and all sorts of other wonderful things – read!
  • My daughter happens to be a good test taker so she does not need to practice test-taking for future tests, one of the suggested benefits below.  In fact she gets plenty of test-taking practice on her graded tests that are required for her class grades and I can not imagine when she will ever take a test that requires the extended time required for the New York State assessments, using the tests as a ‘stepping stone’ below.  My understanding is that the tests to be certified as a doctor or a lawyer are shorter than these assessments and the Regents test is definitely shorter since each Regents test is completed in a single morning or afternoon.

After all that thinking I can’t come up with any personal benefits for my daughter to take the New York State math test.  In fact I believe that there is potential for my daughter and her fellow classmates to be hurt by taking the New York State tests.  I won’t go into all the details but if you are not familiar with the wide variety of issues and concerns that many parents, teachers and even some school administrators have regarding standardized testing, please read this article which hits lots of key points.

Are the Tests Really High Stakes?

The state test results for students in grades 3-8 are not used to determine promotion or retention. They are never used in isolation in KCSD as an indicator of giftedness. They do not follow the student to high school and they are not included in a student’s high school transcript to determine class rank, scholarship eligibility, or college admission. Selection for honors level classes in grade 8 for high school courses relies upon other factors in addition to the tests like report cards, teacher recommendations and –in the case of Honors English, ELA – essays. In Grades 3 – 8, if a student performs poorly on a test they may receive extra supports or services. This is not a punitive measure – it is to help the student do their very best.

I believe the New York State tests are high-stakes because the tests affect the rating of the teachers and that has an impact on the students.  Our students look up to their teachers and want to do what the teachers say.  Teachers are validly concerned about being rated using a system based on standardized test scores because it is not a reliable way to show what students have learned nor what teachers have taught.  You can read here for more details.  The bad rating system places stress on teachers and I don’t see how we can expect no indication of the stress teachers are feeling to come across to the children.  The students will know that the tests are important to the teacher even if the teacher doesn’t say so.  Even if a teacher is truly not concerned about their rating, the teacher will tell the students to ‘Do your best.’  Students are NOT going to want to let their teachers down and have the potential to feel very high stress regarding how well they do on the ‘high stakes’ tests.  And let’s admit – what kid is really going to believe ‘Just do your best, the test doesn’t really matter’.  If it doesn’t matter, why do they have to take the test?!?

Why Take the Test?

-Testing provides the KCSD with important data that allows us to plan curriculum and identify our strengths and weaknesses. As we seek to be an organization of continuous improvement, we need tools to help measure our progress. The information gleaned from these tests is one piece of the puzzle. Testing data helps us to target specific improvements and aids us in learning how we can better serve our students.

KCSD needs to find better ways of collecting data to plan curriculum and identify our strengths and weaknesses.  This article gives some teacher/administrator feedback from New York City on how poorly designed the New York State tests were this year.  I bet our teachers could give a bunch of suggestions of ways to gather that data – things like portfolios, classroom observation, methods that actually give a good representation of the whole story regarding what our students are learning.

-For students in our younger grades, these tests provide a “stepping stone” to tests of increasing length and intensity as they move up in their educational careers. Beginning in the third grade, student scores on tests are factored into a number of important decisions, including the selection of students for enrichment opportunities. While test scores are only one factor in the selection process, achievement on exams helps students to better their chances of being offered accelerated learning opportunities.

I have already shared my thoughts on the tests as ‘stepping stones’ to longer tests.  Children do NOT need to be stepping up to this many hours of testing!  I do find it interesting that this reason for taking the tests stresses how the tests are factored into a number of important decisions for students – isn’t that what ‘high stakes’ tests are?

-Low participation levels can have an adverse impact on school communities. Schools with a testing participation rate lower than 95% will be labeled by New York State as being required to undergo an improvement process. Those schools must form inquiry teams comprised of teachers and administrators. Participating in the test – no matter how a student scores – enables a school to show compliance. This keeps teachers in the classroom, doing what they do best – teaching. Being out of compliance adds another layer of mandated work for our KCSD teachers and administrators. In addition, Title I funding formulas utilize the performance of schools and districts on these tests to determine how much state aid a District will get and how much control (autonomy) the district will have in determining how it should be utilized.

This concern over Title 1 funding is causing parents to be pitted against administration and with the way this district statement is written, administration is essentially pitting parents against parents.  If parents choose to exercise their right to refuse the test for their children, other parents can blame them for money lost by the district.  Money is not going to be lost by the district.  Please go read this explanation and note that Kingston is already a focus district and has title 1 schools so you will want to follow it through to the end.  Since we are already a focus district, my guess is that we already have a bunch of paperwork that isn’t helping a whole lot so how about another solution?  Let’s come together as a district and stand with others throughout the state against the inappropriate use of testing!  If all of the districts in the state have lower than 95% participation rate, the state isn’t going to be able to give every district unnecessary oversight.  If the additional oversight by the state from falling below 95% is going to be helpful to the district, then we should welcome it.

-Testing helps prepare students for the future. When students opt out of tests in elementary and middle school, they miss an opportunity to gain a comfort level and familiarity with standardized testing. Learning to become good test takers requires practice. When tests become more important – such as the Regents exams for graduation or SAT test for college entrance – experience can help students to feel confident and do their absolute best.

Becoming a good test taker doesn’t necessarily require practice.  Some are just naturally good at it.  Some aren’t good no matter how hard they try.  Some do get better with practice but lots of standardized testing isn’t the future I want for our students.  And what are we going to do when the federal legislation HR-4172 passes (I am working to help get this legislation passed!) which will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to change the number of federally mandated standardized tests that states are required to administer?  HR-4172 would eliminate the need for annual testing and replace it with grade-span testing (or testing once in elementary school and once in middle school) like we had before No Child Left Behind.  Is this standardized test practice really so important that we will force our students to take practice standardized tests each year, even if the federal government does not require it, so they will have adequate experience to feel confident to take the Regents or the SAT?  I sure hope not!

There has been much discussion about the need for reform in education, and the KCSD wholeheartedly agrees that we need to do better for our students. We will be strengthened by acting together – not separately – to change education. Test refusal is a one-time action that could impact a school community for years to come by creating an inappropriate and inaccurate label of that school’s student population.

What are we going to be ‘acting together’ to do and how?  Involved parents have asked for partnership with and direction from the school district regarding how to advocate with the state department of education and state legislators but have been told that ‘our lawyers tell us we can’t say anything about that’ or words to that effect.  I understand that the school administration and Board of Education have to follow the state and federal laws/regulations but there seems to be little acknowledgement of the many concerns that parents and teachers have regarding the state tests.  The Board of Education passed Resolution BOE67 High Stakes Testing on March 20, 2013 (p. 21-22 of minutes) but there has been very little discussion of the topic since that time.  Other districts are supporting parents to help bring about change.  Unfortunately I am not feeling a partnership here but more ‘let me tell you what to do’.  This parent has not embarked upon the course of action of refusing the tests lightly.  Test refusal is NOT a one-time action but rather an action targeted at the problem – the standardized tests!  While I wish to be acting together with KCSD to change education, I can not, in good conscience as a parent, encourage my child to take the state tests.  I will continue to act in the best interest of my child and the children of this community by REFUSING the tests.

Thank you for taking the time to review this information. We are committed to your child’s education, and to making the KCSD the best that it can be

Thank you for taking the time to review my thoughts and information.  I am committed to my child’s education as well as the education of all of the children of Kingston and to making the KCSD the best that it can be as well.

Jolyn Safron


*Most students will not actually be taking tests for 9 hours – only those who have double-time accommodations in their IEPs.  However at Bailey for the ELA test, students spent approximately 3 hours each day in the testing rooms even though they were only given 70 minutes for grades 3 and 4 and 90 minutes for grades 5 – 8 (plus 10 minutes of preparation/test instruction time for all grades) to take the tests.  For the math state test students without IEP modifications will have 60-90 minutes each day, depending on their grade, to complete the test in addition to the 10 minutes of preparation.  My assumption is that the students will remain in the test room for the maximum possible test time as they did for the ELA tests.  Details regarding the test formats, times and accommodations can be found in the Teacher’s Directions files at the Office of State Assessment.



KCSD Statement on Testing


Refusing the New York State tests and potential impact on Kingston Honors courses

Our family struggled long and hard with the decision as to whether Julia, our 7th grader, would refuse the state tests this year. Julia had kids signing a petition against the tests last year and she has been wearing green laces (Lace to the Top) for a year so she is personally concerned about issues related to testing. I have also been concerned by many issues related to high-stakes testing. Our family’s primary reluctance has been the issue of placing stress on the child to have to practice civil disobedience in refusing the tests. With the assurances from the Kingston school district the week before ELA testing was to begin that pressure would not be placed on the students to sit and stare and the expected extensions of that philosophy into treating all refusing students with consideration and respect throughout the testing time, we decided to refuse the tests.

Green Laces

I am very happy to report that other than having to spend 9 hours last week sitting in the Bailey auditorium (3 hours on each of the 3 days of testing), the testing week went smoothly for Julia.  She loves to read and passed the time with her books although having to sit in the same spot for 3 hours is hard for anyone and I feel for the staff who were overseeing the approximately 180 students on day 1 of testing in the auditorium and over 200 students on days 2 and 3.  Julia said that some students did not remember to bring books with them to read so I am not sure how they kept themselves occupied.

One question that was not answered before the testing began was what impact, if any, refusing the state tests might have on Julia’s ability to participate in honors courses next year.  I submitted the question to the district via the new Let’s Talk application when it was introduced last Tuesday April 1, 2014 and received the following answer in my e-mail today April 9, 2014.

Question: What impact will my daughter’s refusing the state tests have on her ability to participate in honors courses next year?

Students may opt of state tests and still be selected to participate in honors courses; however, sitting for state exams and achieving a high score can help students better their chances of being chosen for the honors program.
In English Language Arts, students must meet KCSD standards in 5 of 7 criterion:
1) 7th Grade ELA test score
2) 8th Grade ELA test score
3) Report Card average over 92 percent
4) STAR assessment
5) Guidance recommendation
6) Teacher recommendation
7) Honors Essay

In Math and Science, students must meet KCSD standards in 5 of 6 criterion*:
1) 7th Grade Math/Science test scores
2) 8th Grade Math/Science test score
3) Report Card average over 92 percent
4) STAR assessment
5) Guidance recommendation
6) Teacher recommendation
*Math and Science are separate courses