Tag Archives: elementary school

Lengthen the School Year Before It’s Too Late Homework Assignment

I try to not get too hung up on the different postings of bad ‘Common Core’ assignments because they may or may not be the fault of Common Core but this one is just so egregious that I had to post it whether it is the fault of Common Core or not!

A mom on the Stop Common Core in New York State facebook page (not from Kingston) reported that her 2nd grade student brought this homework assignment home today.  Note that she said her school regularly sends work from the next grade up home as homework at the end of the school year.  The paper says it is for third grade at the bottom.

Homework Lengthen the School Year grade 3Homework Lengthen the School Year grade 3 p2

The mom was aghast and furious that her student was being told she was behind/not cutting it by the homework assignment and that she needed to give up her summer break.  This particular family spends their summers in Greece learning Greek culture, language and their family heritage.  The mom didn’t feel this qualified as blowing off the summer!

Regardless of how a family spends their summer, the opinions that are presented here as facts are way too many!  There are experts who say these things but there are experts who say the opposite or come up with other solutions based on similar facts.  If this was presented as an opinion piece MAYBE it would be okay but I still don’t know if I would think so for 2nd grade homework where there might be no one discussing it with the child. On the thread where it came from some teachers said they used a similar opinion piece to have a discussion with 5th graders and I could maybe see that working.  However I have been part of debates about extending the school year/having kids go to school in the summer between adults and it is just that – DEBATES!!!  There is NOT consensus about what is best for children in the summer.

I definitely feel this is too far into the brainwashing/social engineering camp for a 2nd/3rd grade class to be using it as homework.  What do you think?


Parents demand independent review of NYS tests

Please send an email or make a call to the New York State Attorney General’s office demanding an independent review of the NYS grade 3-8 tests.

From United to Counter the Core:

Hundreds of thousands of parents across NY have spoken loudly and clearly with test refusals. Now it is time for YOU to take the next step!

United to Counter the Core is proud to join over 60 grassroots parent activist groups across NY calling for an investigation into the tests by our Attorney General, Eric T Schneiderman. We ask you, the parents, to support this effort by taking three minutes to call the Attorney General’s office and add your voice to the rising chorus.

Please call or email the AG’s office and DEMAND an independent review of the 2015 grades 3-8 ELA and math tests, addressing concerns with quality, validity, and appropriateness.  We are FINALLY being heard in Albany; please call TODAY and continue to let your voice be heard!

Attorney General Eric T Schneiderman’s Office

UPDATE: the phone system can be difficult to navigate, but you will find an operator by dialing 1, then 3, then 6. You can leave your name and number with the operator on the phone log, telling her that you’re calling in support of a petition that has already been filed.

You can also contact Eric T. Schneiderman‘s office by posting on his Facebook page (click his name above). -Storm

Parents demand an investigation

Read the press release about the demand for an independent review of the tests as well as the petition and the 60+ parent groups supporting the demand.

If you have not yet added your name to the petition, you may do so by clicking here.

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!




June 1st Deadline for Special Permission Requests

If you are a family in the Kingston City School District who needs to make a special permission request for the 2015-2016 school year, be aware that new procedures are in place with a June 1, 2015 deadline.

The following article was posted on the KCSD website on April 13, 2015:

Dear Parents:
It truly takes a community to raise a child, and the Kingston City School District is proud to partner with our parents in accommodating school special permission requests. We understand that many working families need access to before- and after-school care in order to support their children’s education. Board of Education Policy 5110, School Attendance Boundaries, provides the superintendent the authority to transfer students from one attendance area to another.

The KCSD plans to continue special permissions, but we need our parents’ help to support a new procedure with a June 1, 2015 deadline for these requests. Parents who have had previous permissions should know that a new request must be completed each school year. The form to complete requests is available at the link listed below and is also available in all school district main offices.

Special Permission Information and Procedures

• A special permission is permission for a student(s) to attend a school in the Kingston City School District in an attendance zone outside of the student’s residence.

• All requests must be made in advance of each new school year. Parents must complete the Request for Special Permission form and Day Care Information form and return it to the school district no later than June 1, 2015 for the school year that begins on September 8, 2015. A request to extend a previous special permission approval must be completed every year by completing this form. This form can be accessed by visiting www.kingstoncityschools.org/sp

• The approval or denial of all requests will be communicated in writing no later than August 15, 2015 by the office of the Deputy Superintendent for Teaching & Learning.

• Special Permission approvals are not provided transportation by KCSD.  However,
o Students attending a childcare provider to/from the school may request to ride the bus route to and from the existing bus stops, on a seat available on a first come, first served basis. A Special Permission Alternative Bus Stop Request form is required to be completed and submitted for approval.

• In rare instances, if a student on special permission shows a pattern of frequent absences, tardiness, or inappropriate behavior, the building principal of the school the child is attending may revoke the student’s privilege to attend the school and the student will be returned to the school in the attendance area in which the student resides.

• If a student(s) moves out of an attendance area during the course of the school year, special permission may be requested by completing a Request for Special Permission form and the student(s) may stay at the school he/she currently is attending (in his/her  former attendance area) for the remainder of the school year, subject to the approval of the building principal.  The school district will not provide transportation.

Thank you for your support of this new deadline. Specific questions can be directed to your child’s building principal.



The truth regarding NYS test REFUSAL

Confusion seems to abound both in the Kingston City School District and throughout New York State as to a parent’s right to REFUSE the New York State tests for their grade 3-8 students as well as the potential consequences to students/teachers/schools if parents do REFUSE the tests.

lohud presented a summary of the problem/confusion in their editorial “Waiting for straight answers on testing” along with some answers they received.  They found the answers to not be terribly helpful but with the additional explanations below, some of them are a bit clearer.

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Paul Padalino exhorted parents to allow their students to participate in the state tests in the March 2015 KCSD newsletter and included statements labeled as myths and facts to frequently asked questions about the tests.  NYSAPE provided a response to the KCSD newsletter clarifying some inaccuracies regarding the amount of time students are allotted for the tests and reaffirming that some students (many of our students with IEPs) are likely to spend up to 9 hours each on the ELA and the math tests.  NYSAPE also goes into detail about what will happen in Kingston since we are a Focus District if we do not achieve 95% participation on the tests.  Basically Kingston will stay a Focus District regardless of how many parents refuse the test because we have not met the other criteria to get out of Focus District status. Read the NYSAPE document for the full explanation though.  I do want to point out that neither Dr. Padalino or NYSAPE makes any mention of the potential for money to be lost by Kingston City School District based on the number of parents who refuse the tests because there is no potential for money to be lost by KCSD based on the percentage of students who refuse the tests.

Unfortunately NYSSBA (New York State School Boards Association) missed the ‘no loss of funding’ memo and is advising school boards that there is potential for money to be lost by school districts based on low participation rate.  A document from NYSSBA containing untruth was presented to DWPC members last week.  If you received or heard about the NYSSBA document, be sure to read this response to the NYSSBA document from Diane Ravitch/Bianca Tanis.

The New York State Assembly has reaffirmed parents’ right to REFUSE the state tests in several ways recently.  The Common Core Parental Refusal Act legislation has been presented by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco affirming the right to refuse.  The legislation has not yet been passed but both parties in the assembly are supportive of the principle of the legislation – that parents have the right to REFUSE the state tests.  During NYS budget negotiations on March 31, 2015 Assemblywomen Nolan and Wozniak covered if parents in NYS can REFUSE the state tests (YES!), impact to teacher evaluations if lots of students REFUSE (not a problem) and if schools will lose funding due to lots of test REFUSALS (NO!) – video here.

NYSUT published a set of Q&As associated with test REFUSAL (they use the term ‘opt-out’ for some reason).  I am listing a couple of the questions.  Read the document for all of the Q&As.

Q: Will districts lose state aid if large numbers of students opt out?

A: Some school districts have provided parents with inaccurate information on the consequences of opting out. In fact, there should be no adverse consequences for students who opt out and districts should have no risk losing state aid even if large numbers of their students opt out.

Q: Does research support using student scores on standardized tests as a determinant of teacher effectiveness?

A. No. Educational experts from around the country increasingly agree that the overuse of standardized testing is harmful to education and that test results are not an accurate measure of student learning or of teacher quality. Nationally, states – including California, Texas and Tennessee – are moving away from over-reliance on these tests. Parents, teachers and school boards across New York state have asked Gov. Cuomo to do the same. The governor has responded by tying needed school funding to more than doubling the reliance on these tests.


REFUSE the state tests - April 2015

REFUSE the state tests – April 2015

NYSUT President, Karent Magee sent out a robo call to all teachers reaffirming that parents and teachers who are parents have the right to REFUSE the state tests.  The only problem was the use of ‘opt-out’ rather than REFUSE the tests.

Several weeks ago Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner of SED stated that there is no legal provision to “Opt-out” of state tests (3/24/15 http://news10.com/…/parents-question-common-core-opt-out-p…/)  which is true in New York State.  However parents have the right to REFUSE the tests for their children. The language used in this is vitally important to get right otherwise parents are being misinformed and facing backlash from their districts who can truthfully say that the parents cannot “Opt-out”.

I hope that you now feel confident in the TRUE FACTS associated with test REFUSAL and the TRUTH that REFUSING the state tests for your child in grades 3-8 will not cause adverse consequences for your child/teacher/school.Refuse ELA Test April 2015

If you have not already sent in a refusal letter and would like some help preparing the letter, check out NYS Allies for Public Education  or Stop Common in New York State.  You are also welcome to contact me directly by filling out the contact form below.  Just get your letter in as soon as possible and definitely by day 1 (Tuesday April 14, 2015) of testing.  Do NOT wait until day 2 or day 3 – read here for the problem with waiting until after day 1 of testing.

Impact of refusing the New York State ELA test on day 2 or day 3 of testing next week

Parents – if you are considering REFUSING the state ELA testing next week for grades 3-8, you MUST make your decision by the first day of ELA testing (April 14, 2015).

If your child begins to take the test and then ‘refuses’ on day 2 or day 3, it is NOT a refusal as I talk about test refusal (code 999 which does not impact the teacher or the school because your student does not receive a score on the test). If your student refuses on day 2 or day 3, it will adversely impact the teacher and possibly the school because your student will receive a score on the test (probably a low score since they only took a portion of test). If you had no intention of refusing the tests and your student comes home so emotionally distraught after testing on day 1 that you can not put them through another day of testing, you will have to make the call about whether avoidance of the impact to the teacher/school is worth putting your student through more turmoil/anxiety or not but please do NOT PLAN to ‘wait and see’ as part of the test refusal movement.

Also if your student who is refusing the test on day 1 makes any marks on the test (I think even putting their name on the test), the test is no longer refused and will be scored. If your child who is refusing the test is forced to be in the testing room by the school district (some school districts in Ulster County are doing this), be sure that the child knows to not put any pencil marks on the test.

I also need to call to your attention a correction to a post I made last night.  Bailey Middle School is NOT requiring that test refusal letters be submitted by today in order for students to refuse the state ELA test.  Parents may submit test refusal letters on Monday or Tuesday next week for the ELA test which begins on Tuesday April 14, 2015.

If you need assistance with your refusal letter, check out NYS Allies for Public Education  or Stop Common in New York State.  You are also welcome to contact me directly by filling out the contact form below.


Meetings and events for KCSD parents – week of February 8, 2015

Below are meetings that might be of interest to parents in the Kingston City School District this coming week:

  • Board of Education Coffee & Conversation – Monday February 9, 2015 7:30am Quick Chek Albany Avenue  *event canceled if snow day or 2-hour delay
  • Autism Parent Support Group – Tuesday February 10, 2015 6:30pm Chambers Elementary School – details here
  • Robert Graves PTO meeting – Tuesday February 10, 2015 6:30pm
  • Parent Education Night hosted by KCSD – Tuesday February 10, 2015 6:30-8pm Chambers Elementary School – Learn about how data-driven instruction is shaping education in Kingston.
  • IEP Development with Dorothy Richards of RCAL presented by Kingston Special Education Parent Group and KCSD – Wednesday February 11, 2015 6pm Cioni Building (see flyer below)
  • Reclaiming Public Education hosted by Bennett School PTA – Wednesday February 11, 2015 6:30pm Bennett Intermediate School, Boiceville NY – Forum to learn more about high stakes testing and the impact it has on our children, our schools and our teachers (see flyer below)
  • District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) monthly meeting – Thursday February 12, 2015 9:30am Cioni Building (rescheduled from Feb 5)
  • Presidents’ Day weekend – No School – February 13-16, 2015 *assuming no snow days this week – read details here

IEPflyer Feb 11 2015Reclaiming Public Education Bennett PTA

Next week:

  • J.W. Bailey PTO meeting – Tuesday February 17, 2015 7pm
  • KCSD Board of Education meeting – Wednesday February 18, 2015 public comment generally begins at 7pm Robert Graves elementary school
  • KCSD Budget Forum – Thursday February 19, 2015 6pm Cioni building (rescheduled from January 29, 2015)
  • Bailey Middle School play “Legally Blonde” February 20 and 21, 2015 7pm


If you know of an event/meeting that should be added to this list, send me a message so I can update the list.




Meetings and events for KCSD parents this week – February 1, 2015

Below are meetings that might be of interest to parents in the Kingston City School District this week:

  • Miller PTO meeting – Tuesday February 3, 2015 6pm
  • KCSD Board of Education meeting – Wednesday February 4, 2015 public comment generally begins at 7pm Cioni Building
  • District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) monthly meeting – Thursday February 5, 2015 9:30am Cioni Building CANCELLED due to 2-hour delay – Rescheduled for Feb 12
  • Board of Education Policy Committee meeting – Friday February 6, 2015 9am Cioni Building

Next week:

IEPflyer Feb 11 2015Reclaiming Public Education Bennett PTA

Save the Date:

  • Bailey Middle School play “Legally Blonde” February 20 and 21, 2015 7pm
  • Miller 7-8 grade Band, Chorus and Orchestra Pops Concert February 24, 2015 6:30pm
  • KHS Choral Pops Concert February 26, 2015 7pm at Kingston High School

If you know of an event/meeting that should be added to this list, send me a message so I can update the list.




OLSAT testing – 2nd grade

Several parents with 2nd graders have inquired about the OLSAT test which is being administered in the Kingston City School District between January 26 – 30, 2015 according to the elementary assessment calendar.

The OLSAT is the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test and is a test of abstract thinking and reasoning ability of children pre-K to 18 published by Pearson Education, Inc. according to Wikipedia ( more info here).

Kingston administers the OLSAT to 2nd grade students as a way to assess gifted and talented students for participation in KALP, the Kingston Alternative Learning Program.  KALP is for approximately the top 3-5% of students* in the school district.  These students are offered a few programs outside of regular school hours (before or after school or occasionally in place of the regular school day) in grades 3 through 8.  The programs offered change from year to year.  Here are articles from the KCSD website about KALP from past years – here and here.

Since my children are well past 2nd grade, I can not remember if I ever received any information/feedback on their OLSAT scores after they took the test.  A Kingston parent reported last year (spring 2014) that when she inquired about the OLSAT results for her 2nd grader, she was told she would have to submit a request in writing to the classroom teacher to receive a copy of the test results.  The parent wrote:

I have been awaiting the results of the OLSAT testing for my second grader as I was told the results would be coming in May. I just spoke with our building principal to inquire as to when the results would be sent home and he said I must make a request in writing to the classroom teacher and she will send a copy of the test results.

I find this to be an unnecessary task to put on parents and the results should be shared with the parents as my understanding is that the results of this test help drive the selection of students for the KALP Program.

Some parents are inquiring about refusing the OLSAT test.  As a parent, you should have the right to decide that your student will not take this test if it is not in the best interest of your child, however some parents report that schools consider tests such as this to be ‘local assessments’ and do not adhere to parents’ wishes for refusal.

The OLSAT is not one of the New York State Standardized Tests that are being advocated for refusal as part of the “I Refuse” movement supported by groups such as KAFE and NYSAPE.  I believe the OLSAT is only being used in Kingston for the purpose it was designed (determining whether a student is ‘gifted and talented’) so that makes it a valid use of the test and it can directly benefit the student by gaining them access into KALP.  I do not know if other criteria are used as part of the KALP selection process (I think teacher recommendation is part of the process) nor whether a student will be excluded from any possible participation in KALP if they do not take the OLSAT.  I feel that the OLSAT is a high stakes test because it gates admission to KALP but if Kingston is going to maintain KALP, which is a limited-access program, there must be a uniform way to determine eligibility and I am not sure how to do that other than a test like the OLSAT.  If there are indeed better methods of selection, please let me know.

Even though I personally believe that KALP is a wonderful program for those who are eligible to participate and I would like to say that every parent should allow their child to take the OLSAT, in today’s test-heavy education world the parent is in the best position to determine the stress that another test is going to have on their child and whether their child can handle taking the OLSAT or not.  Ideally the parent would consult with the classroom teacher but unfortunately many teachers do not feel able to talk honestly about testing.  I do not feel that students should start ‘prepping’ for the OLSAT like some do for the SAT.  KALP is a good program but it is not that good and it is NOT worth stressing a child out for a test.  I recommend that a parent weigh the possibility that their child might not get to participate in KALP if they do not take the OLSAT against any adverse impacts taking the OLSAT will have on their child in order to make a decision about test refusal of the OLSAT.

Purpose of learning

* Percentage of students eligible to participate in KALP is from information discussed at the November 5, 2014 KCSD Board of Education meeting.