Tag Archives: ELA

English Language Arts

Time to ‘break the rules’ and say I Refuse!

I do not like to advocate for encouraging our children to “break the rules” by refusing the state tests.  I wish that we as parents and teachers could engage in reasonable dialogue with those ‘in charge’ of our children’s education and have our concerns addressed.  Like Carol Burris I would like to follow the rules but I can not stand by and have our children abused or our schools destroyed by the current education reforms.  We have begged, we have pleaded, we have tried to discuss.  Now we must act and refuse the state tests this April for grades 3-8!

Burris - there comes a time

Carol Burris writes:

It has become increasingly clear that Congress does not have the will to move away from annual high-stakes testing. The bizarre notion that subjecting 9-year-olds to hours of high-stakes tests is a “civil right,” is embedded in the thinking of both parties.   Conservatives no longer believe in the local, democratic control of our schools. Progressives refuse to address the effects of poverty, segregation and the destruction of the middle class on student learning. The unimaginative strategy to improve achievement is to make standardized tests longer and harder.

And then there are the Common Core State Standards. Legislators talk a good game to appease parents, but for all their bluff and bluster, they are quite content to use code names, like the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards,  to trick their constituents into believing their state standards are unique, even though most are word for word from the Common Core.

The only remedy left to parents is to refuse to have their children take the tests. Testing is the rock on which the policies that are destroying our local public schools are built. If our politicians do not have the courage to reverse high-stakes testing, then those who care must step in. As professor of Language and Composition, Ira Shor, bluntly stated:

Because our kids cannot defend themselves, we have to defend them. We parents must step in to stop it. We should put our foot down and say, “Do it to your own kids first before you experiment on ours!”

Answer Sheet February 19, 2015

Burris writes that 60,000 parents refused the state tests last year in New York and that number is expected to grow this year.  In fact NYS Allies for Public Educatio (NYSAPE) has set a goal of 250,000 refusals in New York State and there are many parents within the grassroots movements trying to protect our children who are working to achieve that number.

NYSUT is also joining with parents by asking teachers who have students in grades 3-8 to refuse the state tests for their own students (the “I Refuse” movement) and the New Paltz school district board of education unanimously passed a resolution on February 18, 2015 supporting their local teacher association’s lobbying efforts against high stakes testing which include the “I Refuse” resolution.


Whereas, the Board of Education believes that literacy and critical thinking skills should be the emphasis of education, not
preparing students to “take the test”; 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 Board of Education understands and appreciates the position of New Paltz United Teachers in opposing standardized high stakes testing and advocating for a student-based and research-based curriculum;
Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Board of Education supports increased funding for the schools of this State, in part, through the elimination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment; and
Be It Further Resolved, that the Board opposes the overuse of standardized high stakes testing and standardized testing
that is inconsistent with the goals and objectives of education in this school district; and
Be It Further Resolved, that the Board supports the lobbying efforts of New Paltz United Teachers and other groups of the New York State Board of Regents to eliminate the use of high stakes testing and to increase the funding of education in New York State.

New York was ahead of many other states in test refusal last year but the refusal/opt-out movement is also growing in many other states this year.  Burris gives four reasons why the refusal movement will continue to grow.  Read the article for the full details but basically they are:

  1. Backlash against the Common Core – parents/students see problems with both the tests and Common Core
  2. Pain but no gain – according to No Child Left Behind high-stakes testing will improve the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students while decreasing the racial achievement gap.  That has NOT been accomplished but many negative effects from high-stakes testing have been demonstrated.
  3. Annual high-stakes testing has not resulted in equity gains – the tests were supposed to close achievement gaps but all that has been closed are schools.  Burris references Fairfield University Professor Yohuru Williams who will be speaking at SUNY New Paltz on Monday March 3, 2015 – Challenging the Attack on Public Education

    Challenging the Attack on Public Education - Carrying on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
    Challenging the Attack on Public Education – Carrying on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
  4. The cat is out of the bag – the real agenda associated with the Common Core high-stakes testing is to get rid of locally controled public school systems.  If you think this sounds like ‘conspiracy theory’, please think about what Governor Cuomo has presented as his ‘education agenda’ this year and how he will not give the schools and our children their money until the legislature gives him all of the items on his agenda.

Burris concludes:

I am a rule follower by nature. I have never gotten a speeding ticket. I patiently wait my turn in lines. I am the product of 12 years of Catholic schools–raised in a blue-collar home where authority was not to be questioned. I was the little girl who always colored in the lines.

But there comes a time when rules must be broken — when adults, after exhausting all remedies, must be willing to break ranks and not comply. That time is now. The promise of a public school system, however imperfectly realized, is at risk of being destroyed. The future of our children is hanging from testing’s high stakes. The time to Opt Out is now.

Answer Sheet February 19, 2015

Please join Carol Burris and me (Jolyn) in refusing the Common Core tests for math and ELA for grades 3-8 this April 2015.


Onteora PTA speaks about High Stakes Testing

The Bennett School PTA in the Onteora school district is speaking up about High Stakes Testing.

The Bennett PTA is hosting a forum “Reclaiming Public Education in New York State” to help parents learn more about high stakes testing and the impact on our schools.

Reclaiming Public Education Bennett PTA

The forum is being held on Wednesday February 11, 2015 6:30pm at Bennett Intermediate School and members of surrounding school districts are invited to attend.

The Bennett PTA also spoke out about state testing in a letter to the editor in the Daily Freeman last week. The Bennett School PTA is encouraging their parent body to refuse the state tests in ELA, math and science this spring.

Dear Editor:

There is growing frustration with the amount of testing our young children are subjected to. I have noticed a significant loss of instruction time, an increased level of stress in the classroom and a poor message to our children about the importance of tests.

The average fourth-grade student is 9 years old and is required by the state Department of Education to prepare for three state exams in the spring: English Language Arts, math and science. These tests total eight days of administration, as well as three to six weeks of test preparation. In total, our children are losing four to six weeks of in-class instruction time per test.

Our children also take ELA and math tests three times a year to monitor their progress. They also take pre- and post-assessment tests in art, music, library, physical education and social studies, totaling 21 standardized tests annually. The numbers are the same for grades three to six, with the exception of the state science test.

It is no wonder we are seeing a loss of hands-on, inquiry-based learning in our classrooms. With the emphasis on math and ELA testing, we are witnessing the erosion of science and social studies from the curriculum.

Excessive testing teaches our children that there is only one right answer in academics and in life. It takes the joy out of learning and minimizes the value and importance of taking a test when it really counts. And it is ruining public education.

As an immediate solution, members of the Bennett School PTA are encouraging our parent body in grades three to six to refuse the state tests in ELA, math and science this spring. These tests are inappropriate for our children, are unfair to our teachers, take away valuable classroom time and are not part of our child’s overall grade or individual assessment.

We intend to send a message to the state.

Heather Roberts, Vice President

Bennett School PTA

Shandaken, N.Y.




Please join the “I Refuse” Movement to oppose High Stakes Testing

Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) announced at the Kingston Board of Education meeting tonight that they are joining NYSAPE and other parent and teacher organizations from around New York State in support of the “I Refuse” Movement to oppose high stakes testing.  Read more here.

As a parent in the Kingston City School District and a member of KAFE, I will refuse the New York State standardized ELA and math tests in April for my 8th grader and I am asking other Kingston parents to refuse the tests for your grade 3-8 students as well.

Here is the KAFE resolution:

Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) Resolution to Support “The I Refuse Movement” to Oppose High Stakes Testing

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 prepare that populace 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 state assessments are not transparent in that–teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available; 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 KAFE opposes standardized high stakes testing that is currently pushed by the Federal and State governments, because this testing is not being used to further instruction for children, to help children, or to support the educational needs of children; and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE advocates for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research; and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE joins NYSAPE in lobbying the NYS Board of Education to eliminate the use of high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE will encourage all of Kingston City School District’s parents to have their own children refuse to take the Grade 3-8 assessments: and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE will encourage other parent groups in Ulster County to increase opposition to high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution will be sent to the NY State Board of Education, the Governor of NYS, and all members of the NYS legislative branch.

Signed by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) Co-founders Jolyn Safron, Maria Maritsas, Tory Lowe

January 21, 2015

See more at:http://www.nysape.org/resolution-to-support-the-ldquoi-refuserdquo-movement.html#sthash.ywEl61w4.dpuf

NYSAPE RefuseTheTests

Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 5th grade?

Kingston parents of 5th graders – how is/did the teaching of UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) go this school year? I know I heard a number of concerns from local parents about it last year.

I also know there has been a lot of work done locally on Core Investigations which I though might deal with this but all I can find on the district website for Core Investigations is grade 4 and below. Does Core Investigations cover grades 5 and above?

Why are parents revolting against the Common Core?  Start with the English curriculum – Nicholas Tampio January 16, 2014

A New Paradigm For Accountability

Those who are proponents of Common Core often argue that we can not get rid of it because “what would we do instead?”

I have heard a number of good suggestions and this one particularly caught my imagination today so I would like to share Diane Ravitch’s suggestion with you.

She begins with a quick explanation of what utter failures No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top have been (click here if you wish to read about the failures) but then moves to imagining how things could be with this new accountability system.

I have an idea for a new accountability system that relies on different metrics. We begin by dropping standardized test scores as measures of quality or effectiveness. We stop labeling, ranking, and rating children, teachers, snd schools. We use tests only when needed for diagnostic purposes, not for comparing children to their peers, not to find winners and losers. We rely on teachers to test their students, not corporations.

The new accountability system would be called No Child Left Out. The measures would be these:

How many children had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument?

How many children had the chance to play in the school band or orchestra?

How many children participated in singing, either individually or in the chorus or a glee club or other group?

How many public performances did the school offer?

How many children participated in dramatics?

How many children produced documentaries or videos?

How many children engaged in science experiments? How many started a project in science and completed it?

How many children learned robotics?

How many children wrote stories of more than five pages, whether fiction or nonfiction?

How often did children have the chance to draw, paint, make videos, or sculpt?

How many children wrote poetry? Short stories? Novels? History research papers?

How many children performed service in their community to help others?

How many children were encouraged to design an invention or to redesign a common item?

How many students wrote research papers on historical topics?

Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of?

Well, you can make up your own metrics, but you get the idea. Setting expectations in the arts, in literature, in science, in history, and in civics can change the nature of schooling. It would require far more work and self-discipline than test prep for a test that is soon forgotten.

My paradigm would dramatically change schools from Gradgrind academies to halls of joy and inspiration, where creativity, self-discipline, and inspiration are nurtured, honored, and valued.

– from “My New Paradigm For Accountability”, Diane Ravitch’s blog, November 12, 2014

The thought of this new system makes me want to dance – I can just imagine the joy and excitement that would fill the school halls!  What do you think?  Would your student be excited to attend a school using this accountability system?

Education transform

Common Core Started As A Great Idea …

Ellie clearly explains many of the things that went wrong with the Common Core State Standards in her blog post below.  As a former teacher Ellie brings an ‘insider perspective’ to the discussion of the standards as she is fighting with me and others around New York State to stop Common Core so please give consideration to what she has to say.

Okay, I’m just gonna say it: THE IDEA BEHIND COMMON CORE WAS GOOD. The higher standards and nationally leveled curriculum was a good, honest idea. Teaching kids to think critically is a good idea. BUT…what Common Core REALLY became is HORRENDOUS. Here’s what I hate MOST (trust me, there’s more) about THE REALITY OF CCSS:

1.  Obama and Gates and the Publishing companies made it 99% about PROFITS. Money for politicians, money for Gates, money for publishers of workbooks and test materials. Money for ADVERTISERS that paid for their BRAND NAMES to be included in the aligned materials and tests.

2. The people that actually wrote the standards were NOT educators, they were MARKETERS and RESEARCHERS with NO experience with CHILDREN’S LEARNING. All the REAL experts in education and child psychology are VEHEMENTLY and outspokenly against it.

3. They took what elementary schoolers had been doing IN THE STATES WITH THE HIGHEST STANDARDS ALREADY and then DROPPED MOST OF IT DOWN 1-2 GRADES and called that “accelerated learning.” BUT there was a REASON that 4th grade material was done IN FOURTH GRADE. It was developmentally appropriate! Pushing kids to understand concepts 1 or 2 years beyond their little brains’ abilities IS NOT “higher standards.” Period. It’s just FRUSTRATING and making more kids hate school and feel like failures, and SQUASHING the love of reading and learning they’d have had if these ideas were presented AT THE RIGHT TIMES and in the right ways.

4. They took Singapore math, twisted it, crammed it into workbooks, made it the ONLY RIGHT WAY, and jammed it down the throats of kids WHO CANNOT THINK THAT WAY. All students learn differently. Singapore math is awesome. But the CCSS version is crap, and even the correct version shouldn’t be forced onto all children. Educating thousands of children REQUIRES differentiation of methodology and instruction. That is NOT optional.

5. The publishing companies RUSHED to create the “aligned” materials so they could get the HUGE contract$, so the content is FLAWED, worded HORRIFICALLY, and IT WAS NEVER EVER EVER TESTED ON ANY CHILDREN ANYWHERE. Not in China, and not in the U.S. Our kids are GUINEA PIGS — Bill Gates even ADMITTED IT!!! ON RECORD!!!

6. CCSS’s obsession with “higher standards” focuses almost completely on Math and ELA — making it THE focus of early childhood education. It has tossed aside the other VITAL elements of education: Science, History, Art, and Music are now all afterthoughts.

7. CCSS’s obsession with ALL DAY, EVERY DAY TEST PREP/TEACHING TO THE TESTS has virtually ELIMINATED free time, play time, and hands-on learning for even the youngest students. OUR 5 YEAR OLDS ARE SITTING STILL ALLLLLLLLL DAY…and then they are inundated with homework at night. KIDS NEED TO MOVE AND EXPLORE AND CREATE AND LAUGH AND SING!

8. CCSS’s obsession with testing has made a bad situation worse. For just over 10 years, the focus of learning in school has shifted from LEARNING to PASSING TESTS. That is NOT a Free and Appropriate Public Education, which is what we are entitled to for our kids BY LAW. If we ARE LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO SEND OUR KIDS TO SCHOOL, then the schools should be LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO ACTUALLY TEACH OUR CHILDREN SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE. When did it become the government’s job to make sure my kids can pass math and ela tests, rather than UNDERSTAND MATHEMATICAL CONCEPTS THAT ARE RELEVANT and LEARN AND LOVE TO READ AND WRITE?

9. CCSS puts so much emphasis on Math and ELA that there is now TOO MUCH READING IN THE MATH and TOO MUCH MATH IN THE READING. First graders who cannot read on a third grade level cannot read their math homework. Third graders are reading 11-page passages in their ELA workbooks that are basically 11 pages worth of math word problems. So if you WOULD have been good at math but you’re not good at reading, NOW you’re not good at EITHER, and vice versa.

10. Common Core, no matter what the catch phrases and buzz words try to tell you, is causing kindergarteners to have tutors, middle school children to have anxiety attacks, early learners to hate reading, and parents to spend 1, 2, 3+ hours with their grade schoolers trying to do homework through tears — from the children AND the parents. SO NO MATTER HOW THEY TRY TO SPIN IT, THE PROOF IS IN THE RANCID PUDDING.

Common Core is BAD. Not just the implementation, not just the new style of math, not just for the older kids who started it midway through school, and not just for the kids who are struggling. It is bad for EVERY SINGLE CHILD IN CCSS-ALIGNED SCHOOLS. Because even if your kid is getting great grades, they are NOT learning what they should be, and the rest of the kids are miserable.

Find out more. Go online and onto Facebook and join your local Common Core informational groups. Ask questions. Stop this now.

-Ellie Calo-Motondo
Former NYC Public School Teacher, Current Mother of NYC Public School Children



I have included Ellie’s blog post in its entirety so you do not miss any of her insights.  You can also find her post on her blog here.

Stomp it

Parents and Educators Reject the Tests, the Scores and Corporate Agenda of NYSED & Pearson

Test scores for the 2014 New York State standardized math and ELA tests were released yesterday.  The following press release articulates concerns that many parents and educators have with the tests themselves and the resulting scores.

More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) http://www.nysape.org

Parents and Educators Reject the Tests, the Scores and Corporate Agenda of NYSED & Pearson

Today Commissioner John King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch released the test scores of the state exams in 3-8th grades, showing that, more than 68% of the state’s students were judged not proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and more than 64% not proficient in Math. The overall results were largely flat with little to no change year over year with only small gains and drops for specific demographic groups.

Members of the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator advocacy groups, challenge the quality of the tests, the accuracy of the scores, and the motives of those who have manufactured these results. This past spring, NYSAPE estimated that at least 44,000 students had opted out of the state exams; today the Commissioner admitted that the number was as large as 60,000 compared to 10,000 in 2013.

As the growing problems with New York’s excessive and speculative testing reforms are exposed, parents across the state are outraged and calling for an overhaul at the state education department.

Lisa Rudley, Westchester county public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “Though Commissioner John King assured us that the new Common Core state tests would be a much better reflection of the skills students will need for ‘college and career’ success with the release of 50% of the questions last week, we learned what educators were forbidden by law from telling us: these were flawed tests, riddled with vague questions, inappropriate reading passages and multiple product placements. In its new Pearson contract signed amidst a financial crisis, NYSED doubled annual spending on testing and even worse, eliminated the transparency of the previous McGraw-Hill contract. Where is the management from NYSED and the oversight from the Board of Regents?”

Dr. Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School on Long Island said, “Considering the more than $28 million taxpayer investment in curriculum modules, this paltry increase in scores is one more indication of the ineffectiveness of State Education Department’s reforms, and the inappropriateness of the Common Core tests. Parents should take heart in knowing that the ‘college readiness‘ proficiency scores have no connection with reality. My high school and many other well-resourced high schools in NY have proven records of preparing students for college success that are no way connected to the state’s newest measure of proficiency.”

Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “If the released questions are this bad, you have to wonder how much worse the other half were. I have no confidence in the results released today. Parents now demand new leadership for a Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education who repeatedly fail to adequately respond to their legitimate concerns.”

“Many of the multiple choice questions required up to five steps and compelled 8 year olds to flip back forth between numbered paragraphs. The question becomes more of a measure of attention, memory and test taking skills rather than their deep understanding of a text. The commissioner has stated that education should not be about test prep, but these tricky assessments all but ensure that test prep will continue — to the detriment of real learning,” said Bianca Tanis, an Ulster County public school parent and special education teacher.

Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Opt Out said, “This past spring, 55,000 to 60,000 New York State students were spared from yet another year of test scores that were designed to show a large majority of failures. The number of opt outs will steadily grow until NYSED takes the concerns of parents seriously and makes the necessary changes to our children’s excessive high stakes testing regimen. High stakes testing and the Regents Agenda have hijacked our classrooms, and every day more parents become aware of how they too must protect their children from these harmful policies.”

Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent and educator notes, “Until the NYSED acknowledges that these developmentally inappropriate exams take time away from instruction, cost taxpayers, and set kids up to fail — in an attempt to perpetuate the false narrative of Governor Cuomo’s ‘death penalty’ for schools — parents will continue to refuse to allow their children to participate in these state tests.”

“The test content was not sufficiently disclosed and there was no quality assurance or mechanism for parents or educators to obtain valuable feedback. The bottom line is that students are getting hurt, money is being wasted and precious time is being spent on high stakes testing at the expense of more meaningful instruction. The system surrounding the NYS testing program is dysfunctional to say the least,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

Fred Smith, a test specialist formerly with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) stated, “The State Education Department took a half-step by releasing 50 percent of the English and math questions from the April 2014 exams. It was a half-step not just because it falls halfway short of full disclosure, but also because SED fails to provide data at its disposal that would enable objective evaluation of the questions, each of which is a brick in the wall of the testing program.”

“Like many other parents, I see how flawed the tests are as a measure of learning, and fear for all those millions of students who are told, unjustly, and at an early age, they aren’t ‘college and career ready’. These tests which ask our children to prove the existence of Big Foot and expose them to numerous and inappropriate product placements are the furthest from rigor one could imagine. I question the motives of the bureaucrats and the testing companies who are forcing these inappropriate exams onto our children – to try to prove to the public that our schools and children are failing, so they can better pursue their privatization agenda and the outsourcing of education into corporate hands,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.


New York State testing dates for 2014-2015 school year

Here are the dates for the New York State grade 3-8 standardized tests for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.  Mark your calendars and I hope that Kingston parents will plan to REFUSE these state tests for their children.

  • Grades 3-8 English Language Arts  April 14 – April 16, 2015
  • Grades 3-8 Mathematics April 22 – April 24, 2015
  • Grade 4 Science Performance Test May 20 – May 29, 2015
  • Grade 8 Science Performance Test May 20 – May 29, 2015
  • Grade 8 Science Written Test June 1, 2015
  • NYS Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) September 29, 2014 – February 27, 2015
  • NYSESLAT Speaking April 14 – May 15, 2015
  • NYSESLAT Listening, Reading, Writing – May 4 – May 15, 2015

Make-up dates are given in the file below as well as when teachers will be scoring the tests.

CC_TestingDates 2014-2015

Here is a wealth of information from United Opt-Out’s New York page including why many New York State parents are REFUSING the state tests (opting-out is not the proper terminology in New York State) and how to go about doing so.

United Opt-out New-York-July-2014

Be sure to note that the discussion of REFUSING New York State tests and there being no consequences to students does NOT apply to high school REGENTS tests which are required for graduation.

New York State Standardized Tests wrap-up and REFUSE the Field tests!

The New York State standardized tests are finished – well at least the students have finished taking them (or so we thought – see below **). For those parents who had their students take the tests, there will be a several month wait until test scores are received.

Some might wish that I would stop talking about tests, however I believe it is important to understand why many parents REFUSED the tests for their children. Dr. Padalino reported to the Kingston Board of Education that 10.7% of Kingston students grades 3-8 refused the ELA state test and 24% of students grades 3-8 refused the state math test.  This article was written prior to the state math tests being administered but it clearly articulates many of the concerns that I have and reasons why my daughter did not take the ELA and math state tests.

Unless a miracle happens and all of the politicians who are in support of Common Core are ousted in November, at both the state and federal level, we will still have state tests next year and parents will need to decide if their students will take those tests or not. Please inform yourselves now.

** State testing is not really finished – we still have field testing yet this school year. Do you want your student being a test subject for Pearson for FREE?  REFUSE the field tests – they are NOT mandatory!

Green Laces

Field tests are assigned to certain grades within the various school districts by the New York State Education Department (assignments listed here).  Students in the following grades/schools in the Kingston City School District will be taking field tests starting next week:

  • Chambers – 4th grade math (school code 620600010011)
  • Crosby – 4th grade math  (school code 620600010015)
  • Edson – 4th grade math (school code 620600010024)
  • Graves 4th grade ELA  (school code 620600010017)
  • GW – 5th grade math   (school code 662401060003)
  • Myer – 4th grade science  (school code 620600010013)
  • JFK – 3rd grade ELA (if I picked the correct school code 620600010014 )
  • Bailey – grade 8 math  (school code 620600010020)
  • Miller – grade 7 ELA  (school code 620600010025)
  • Kingston High School – US History, Earth Science and Geometry  (school code 620600010022)

Local schools determine when they administer the test between June 2-11, 2014.  If a student is absent on the field test day, they will not be asked to make up the test per this letter.

Turns out my students luck out this year and are not in the grades assigned for field testing.  However if your student is in a grade that will be taking a field test at their school, I recommend that you submit a copy of the field test refusal letter below and REFUSE the field testing for your student.



Regarding upcoming Field Tests:

Testing companies often pay test subjects to get feedback on experimental test questions. Three times a year, the testing company Pearson uses NYS children to try out test questions for future exams FREE OF CHARGE. As a matter of fact, your taxpayer money covers the cost of administering these tests. There are scheduled stand alone field tests in the fall and the spring, and field test questions are embedded into the spring ELA and math state assessments. This, of course, makes the ELA and math assessments even longer than they already are. About a month before the field tests are distributed, the SED puts out a field test testing schedule. About half of NYS schools are selected in the fall, and the other half are selected in the spring. Not all grades are selected. The SED has instructed schools not to make parents aware of these tests and what they are for. In a memo from last year to NYS districts, they stated, “Students should not be informed of the connection between these field tests and State assessments”. Field tests have no bearing on your child’s report card grades, the teachers grades, or the school grades. No feedback is given for these tests by the testing company to districts. The field tests take up to 50 minutes to administer.  Refusing these tests is a given. These tests yet again take precious time away from our children’s classroom learning.

Some districts are refusing to administer the field tests. Most want to refuse, but are afraid that doing so will have ramifications against the school. But as always, parents can take a stand against yet another useless assessment imposed on our children. If your school/child’s grade has been selected, and if you choose to refuse, just submit this field test refusal letter (or write your own):

Dear Administrator,

Thank you for all that you do for our students. I am refusing any traditional and/or PARCC field tests, for my child, (name of child) that are expected to be administered later this spring.  

I understand that (name of school) will be administering field tests. Our children are already over tested, and I see no good reason to subject my child to yet another assessment that will take away valuable instructional time. I am of the opinion that field tests use our children as unwilling and unpaid participants for market research so that testing companies can create their products. I am already opposed to the testing culture that dominates our schools today, and I will not allow my child to participate in any testing that enhances the corporate influence in our school.

To be clear, my child will not be participating in any of the upcoming field tests of any nature.
Thank you,
Name of Parent/Guardian

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.