Tag Archives: math

No consequences for KCSD test refusal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Sense Education Lobby Day Report – June 17, 2014

Four Kingston parents, including representatives from Kingston Action for Education, traveled to Albany for Common Sense Education Lobby Day on Tuesday June 17, 2014.

Kingston parents in Albany

We met up with eight parents from the Onteora school district intending to meet with our legislators after attending the rally.

We did not attend the press conference before the rally and had to leave before the rally concluded to meet with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill but full videos of the press conference and rally are available here.

Mary Calamia opened the rally with the following (video here):

We are all here today because we are trying to fix something that is very, very broken.  We have joined in a battle to fix a broken educational system that has created a hostile learning environment for our children and a hostile working environment for those who teach them.

Mary then encouraged the attendees that we are not just parents but advocates and even lobbyists.  And I was very proud to wear those titles with approximately 200 other people standing for New York’s children in Albany yesterday.

Mary quoted Governor Cuomo as saying “too often government responds to the whispers of lobbies before the cries of the people”.  Her response:

This from a man who is completely deaf to the cries of the people!  So Governor Governor, I say this – we are the people, we are the lobbyists.  We are not crying and we are so NOT whispering!  Today as lobbyists, you are going to meet with legislators and do what any other lobbyist does, try to influence legislation on behalf of the special interest and what more special interest can we have than the children of New York State?

We, the people will go into more than 50 legislative meetings and tell them what we know, what we have experienced and what we need from them and we will follow up this summer and talk with them again and again until we can restore Common Sense in Albany and Common Sense to our schools.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was a member of the original Common Core Validation Committee charged with reviewing and approving the Common Core standards but refused to endorse the standards, spoke about the havoc that Common Core is wreaking on our education system and what parents, students and school board members can do about it. (video here)

  • (mark 5:10) Dr. Stotsky pointed out that the four most important stakeholder groups in the education of our children – parents, teachers, state legislators and school board members – were generally left out in the draft stages/early development of the Common Core Standards.
  • Students were also left out of the development of Common Core.  Go to mark 6:10 in the video segment for how high students got involved in Massachusetts and how Kingston students might want to get involved if they, particularly our current 7th and 8th graders, want to make sure they have adequate math course availability when they get to grades 11 and 12.
  • (mark 8:45) Common Core is wreaking havoc in our high schools particularly in the area of the math standards.  The Common Core Standards do not require courses above a weak Algebra 2 which will not get students to needed STEM fields – will the courses be there when budgets continue to be cut?  We have already lost accelerated math for our KCSD middle school students.  7th graders did not have it this year and we have been told that it will not be offered for next year’s 7th graders either.  ‘unless there  if they are in grade 8 or 9 now, your children are going to be the victims of Common Core’  Recruit your children who are old enough to understand the academic issues.
  • What can parents do?  (mark 12:50)  Parents have the right to do what they feel is best for their children.  Parents can send in a note stating that their student will only take ‘teacher-made’ tests.  Parents do not need to ask for permission – they have always had these rights.  Parents can send a note and indicate that they want instruction, not testing, on the days of state sponsored tests.  Also parents can say that they want to see their student’s scores from the ‘teacher-made’ tests within a week so that they can see what those tests look like and what scores/grades their kids are getting.
  • “What the law does not explicitly forbid or explicitly require in a free country, you can do.”
  • (mark 17:55) importance of local self-government – Legally elected school board members still have almost all of the legal authority they have had for 100s of years in this country.  Board members have rights and responsibilities as locally elected officials. All states, save one, have the right for local school boards to set/adopt their own standards.  They might still be responsible to take the tests but they can reject Common Core Standards explicity, adopt a superior set of standards, ask their local superintendent/teaching staff to create superior standards.  Teachers and administrators are not in an enviable state.  They are doing what they think they have been ordered to do by a state board of education.  People need to start straightening out who is the master and who is the public servant?
  • (mark 24:00)The State Board of Regents did not ask the questions they should have asked before accepting Common Core.  No state board of educations asked for a cost benefit analysis.  No state boards of ed asked their higher education teaching faculty (people teaching at the college level in mathematics, science and engineering) to look at the Common Core college-readiness standards in high school to see if they were adequate (were they really college-level standards?) or at least no boards are on record as having asked these questions.  Dr. Stotsky recommends that parents ask teachers from our STEM colleges to look at standards and see if they are indeed adequately preparing students for entry into those college.

Conversation with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill

12 parents from Ulster County (from Kingston and Onteora school districts) met with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill outside the assembly floor at 1pm on June 17.

  • We told Assemblyman Cahill that we were very concerned about Common Core and asked for his support of bill A8844.  He asked if that was the Graf bill and when told ‘Yes’ responded that ‘the Graf bill politically can not pass’.  He went on to tell stories about his 8 year old granddaughter and her four and a half hours of homework and upset parents and how he understands that the Common Core implementation is not working but he believes that the Common Core Standards are good.  Cahill mentioned at one point that the Graf bill had “bad stuff” in it and I wanted to ask what that was but decided it wasn’t worth getting into an argument over at this time.
  • Parents brought up concerns with regards to special education and Common Core and Assemblyman Cahill affirmed that he understands that every child is unique.
  • Assemblyman Cahill stated dissatisfaction with Commissioner King.
  • He talked about the reappointment of Regents this year and how that he learned of a paper, from Regent Jackson himself, that Regent Jackson had written regarding high-stakes testing that stated the many problems with implementation.  In the interview process Cahill asked Jackson about the paper and why he hadn’t communicated the concerns to the other regents when and Jackson said that he hadn’t thought about it and probably should have (it sounds like Jackson forgot about the paper he had written during the discussion of Common Core) and Cahill decided he could not vote for Jackson for reappointment.  When I asked why he voted for someone (no one could remember Regent Josephine Finn’s name but I came home and looked it up) who did not know anything about Common Core instead, Cahill responded that the new regent was appointed because she was well respected and it was believed she would be someone who would ‘shake things up’.  Cahill stated that the Regents work in task forces and only the few Regents (5 he though) who are on the Common Core task force are actually responsible to know anything about Common Core.  He recommended, as had Assemblywoman Nolan on June 3, that we the parents speak to our regent who happens to be Regent Finn about our Common Core concerns.

Conversation with Senator Tkaczyk

We found out last minute that Senator Tkaczyk’s office had requested a maximum of six people to attend the meeting with her so 2 parents from Kingston and 2 parents from Onteora attended and I was not one of them as I have spoken with her previously.

Conversation with Senator Seward

Instead of speaking with Senator Tkaczyk, Madeline and I sat in on a meeting with Senator Seward who appeared to be very supportive of the educational concerns raised by the parents/teachers speaking with him.  The primary focus of the discussion was on the high school level and regarding students who tend to fall through the cracks both special education students and those who might not be special education but still struggle in school.  The 9th grade Common Core math test was shared with Senator Seward and the question raised about how was that test useful to be required for every student and would it really prove that every student was college ready?  The example was given of current college students in programs for television, to be a chef and something arts-related (can’t remember the specific field) where each student was excelling in college and the math test would have been no accurate indication of anything to do with their field of study yet if a student can not pass the test, they will not be able to graduate and go on to college.  Discussion of the RCT (Regent Competency Test) took place and in particular a student who had to take it 5 times and just managed to finally pass before aging out of high school.  Now students do not even have the RCT option and must pass 5 Regents tests in order to earn a diploma at all!

Note:  This report was written in June 2014 after Common Sense Education Lobby Day but never published.  I think there might have been more information that I wanted to include.  The information included is still relevant (and someone was just asking about Assemblyman Cahill’s stand on Common Core) so I am posting it on November 15, 2015.

Algebra 1 Common Core Regents test – teacher says “Toughest Algebra exam I have ever seen!”

The Algebra 1 Common Core regents test was administered* on Wednesday June 17, 2015 and the report on the test is not good.

An email from a New York State eighth grade teacher states that ‘this was the toughest Algebra exam I have ever seen’ and explains that the test was ‘challenging’ because some of the questions were not part of the curriculum (what was supposed to be taught) or were excessively long or complex.  Read the letter for the details – portions of the letter are in italics below.

Some eighth grade students in the Kingston City School District who took the Algebra 1 regents test reported that the test was ‘difficult’.  My daughter thought it was a little harder than the two practice tests she took to prepare for the regents.  Many felt that it was unfair due to the curve applied to the grade and I agree with the students.  Reports that I heard indicated that students left the test crying and feeling like ‘failures’ and then when they received their grades after the test the crying and feelings of failure repeated even though the curve was explained to them (most of the eighth grade students ended up receiving a score in the 70’s).  Remember that these are ‘honors’ students – eight grade students who are taking the course a year early so these are not ‘average’ or ‘struggling’ students.  If this is what the honors students face, I can’t even imagine what the students who were taking the Algebra 1 course under the normal track (in 9th grade) or those who were retaking the regents test to try and get credit for graduation felt when they received their grade on their report card with no explanation of the difficulty of the test, possible unfairness of some questions or the outrageous curve applied to the grades!

The biggest problem according to the letter and according to what I heard reported locally was the curve.  It brings up lower-performing students, as you would expect, but it also brought DOWN the score for the highest-performing students!

Additionally, students were met with the toughest curve I’ve ever seen on a Regents exam as well. Typically you think of a curve as something that will add a few points onto every student’s exam to account for the difficulty level of that exam. All Regents exams have some version of a curve or another, and while this curve did help the lower-performing students, it also HURT the highest-performing students. For example, a student that knew 94% of the exam received a grade of 93. A student that knew 86% of the exam received an 84. When you look at the class as a whole, only two students met the “85 or above” that they were striving for all year long.

Having their grade pushed DOWN can be very detrimental to an HONORS student!

  • In Kingston if an honors student does not achieve a grade of 85 or above in a course, they can not continue in the honors level course of that subject the next year!
  • If students are working for a ‘Regents with HONORS’ designation on their graduation diploma, they must have a computed average of 90 or better on the 5 required regents tests.

As if that isn’t alarming enough, let’s look at the difference between a grade of a 70 and a grade of a 75. You may look at those two and think that they are just five points apart, right? Well the way the scale works, a student who knew just 47% of the material got a grade of a 70, while a student who knew 71% of the material got a 75. Therefore, a student who got the 75 may have actually gotten almost 25% more of the exam correct than the student who got the 70! This creates one of the worst bell curves I have ever seen.

Kingston parents, does this curve seem fair to you?  What will make a student want to go the extra mile and work harder if they get barely 5 percentage points more on the grade for getting 25% more of the answers correct?  Also note that in order for a student to ‘pass’ a regents test they have to achieve a scale score of 65 or proficiency level 3.  For this particular Algebra 1 test, a student only has to earn 30 out of 86 points to achieve the magic ‘proficiency’ level.  That is actually a raw percentage score of 35% but it is considered ‘passing’ and the student receives a grade of 65% on the test.  Does that sound like we are getting our students college-and-career-ready?  What is going on here?  On one hand we are penalizing our honors students and taking away points they have earned and on the other we are passing students who earned a raw percentage of 35% on the test.  Take a look for yourself at the Algebra 1 score conversion chart here.

The teacher who wrote the letter summarizes as follows:

Let me sum up what the last three paragraphs really say: the exam did a serious disservice to your child and will be reflected in their grade. It’s not a fair representation of what students knew, what they did all year, or what they were capable of. There is nothing that your son or daughter could have done to have been better prepared for this exam. Words cannot describe what an injustice this truly is to your child.

The regents tests are NOT secret like the New York State standardized tests for grades 3-8 so the tests are available to the public once the administration is completed.  The questions from the two parts of the Algebra 1 Common Core regents test are included below**.  Click on the links, part 1 and part 2, to see blog posts with the questions, answers and some explanations of the answers.

Please check out the test questions and answers.  Talk to some students who took the Algebra 1 Common Core regents test.  Talk to some math teachers – the regents tests are public and have no gag order.  If you agree that something is wrong with the Algebra 1 test, please join with other parents in talking to the Board of Regents and New York State legislators as something has to change!  The facebook group NY STOP GRAD HST is dedicated to dealing with issues that stop students from graduating such as failing the regents tests.  CLASS, Coalition for Legislative Action Supporting Students, is mobilizing parents to advocate with legislators for changes needed out of Albany.



*Prior to the 2014-2015 school year, the first high school regents math course was called Integrated Algebra.  With the introduction of common Core, the regents course became Algebra 1 and the first Algebra 1 Common Core regents test was administered last June 2014.  The test was given for the second time in January 2015 and the test on June 17, 2015 was the third time the Common Core version has been administered.  On the first two administrations of the algebra common core regents, students could take both tests and keep their higher grade with the Integrated Algebra grade being higher for most students.  Students who took Algebra 1 this year did not have the option of taking the Integrated Algebra regents test as well so the grade that they receive on the Algebra regents is the one they are stuck with unless they decide to take the regents test again.

**Algebra 1 Common Core regents test questions

Part 1 (multiple choice)

  1. The cost of airing a commercial on television is modeled by the function C(n) = 110n + 900, where n is the number of times the commercial is aired. Based on this model, which statement is true?
  2. The graph below represents a jogger’s speed during her 20-minute jog around her neighborhood.  Which statement best describes what the jogger was doing during the 9-12 minute interval of her jog?
  3. If the area of a rectangle is expressed as xˆ4 – 9yˆ2, then the product of the legnth and the width of the rectange could be expressed as
  4. Which table represents a function?
  5. Which inequality is represented in the graph below?
  6. Mo’s farm stand sold a total of 165 pounds of apples and peaches. She sold apples for $1.75 per pound and peaches for $2.50 per pound. If she made $33750, how many pounds of peaches did she sell?
  7. Morgan can start wrestling at age 5 in Division 1. He remains in that division until he next odd birthday when he is required to move up to the next division level. Which graph correctly represents this information.
  8. Which statement is not always true?
  9. The graph of the function f(x) = (x + 4)ˆ(1/2) is shown below:  The domain of the function is
  10. What are the zeroes of the function f(x) = xˆ2 – 13x – 30?
  11. Joey enlarged a 3-inch by 5-inch photograph on a copy machine. he enlarged it four times. The table below shows the area of the photograph after each enlargement.  What is the average rate of change of the area from the original photograph to the fourth enlargement, to the nearest tenth?
  12. Which equation(s) represent the graph below?                                            I. y = (x + 2)(x2 – 4x – 12)                                                                                              II. y = (x – 3)(x2 + x – 2)                                                                                            III. y = (x – 1)(x2 – 5x – 6)
  13. A laboratory technician studied the population growth of a colony of bacteria. He recorded the number of bacteria every other day, as shown in the partial table below.  Which function would accurately model the technician’s data?
  14. Which quadratic function has the largest maximum?
  15. If f(x) = 3ˆx and g(x) = 2x + 5, at which value of x is f(x) < g(x)?
  16. Beverly did a study this past spring using data she collected from a cafeteria. She recorded data weekly for ice cream sales and soda sales. Beverly found the line of best fit and the correlation coefficient as shown in the diagram below.
  17. The function V(t) = 1350(1.017)t represents the value V(t), in dollars, of a comic book t years after its purchase. The yearly rate of appreciation of the comic book is
  18. When directed to solve a quadratic equation by completing the square, Sam arrived at the equation (x – 5/2)ˆ2 = 13/4. Which equation could have been the original equation given to Sam?
  19. The distance a free falling object has traveled can be modeled by the equation d = 1/2 atˆ2, where a is acceleration due to gravity and t is the amount of time the object has fallen. What is t in terms of a and d?
  20. The table below shows the annual salaries for the 24 member of a professional sports team in terms of millions of dollars. [table omitted] The team signs an additional player to a contract worth 10 million dollars per year. Which statement about the median and the mean is true?
  21. A student is asked to solve the equation 4(3x – 1)2 – 17 = 83  The student’s solution to the problem starts as                                                          4(3x – 1)2 = 100                                                                                                                   (3x – 1)2 = 25                                                                                                           A correct next step in the solution of the problem is
  22. A pattern of blocks is shown below.  If the pattern continues, which formula(s) could be used to determine the number of blocks in the nth term?
  23. What are the solutions to the equation x2 – 8x = 24?
  24. Natasha is planning a school celebration and wants to have live music and food for everyone who attends. She has found a band that will charge her $750 and a caterer who will provide snacks and drinks for $2.25 per person. If her goal is to keep the average cost per person between $2.75 and $3.25, how many people, p, must attend?

Part 2 (open response)

25.  Graph the function y = |x – 3| on the set of axes below.  Explain how the graph of y = |x – 3| has changed from the related graph y = |x|.

26.  Alex is selling tickets to a school play. an adult ticket costs $6.50 and a student ticket costs $4.00. Alex sells x adult tickets and 12 student tickets. Write a function f(x), to represent how much money Alex collected from selling tickets.

27.  John and Sarah are each saving money for a car. The total amount of money John will save is given by the function F(x) = 60 + 5x. The total amount of money Sarah will save is given by the function g(x) = x2 + 46. After how many weeks, x, will they have the same amount of money? Explain how you arrived at your answer.

28.  If the difference (3x2 – 2x + 5) – (x2 +3x – 2) is multiplied by 1/2X2, what is the result, written in standard form.

29.  Dylan invested $600 in a savings account at 1.6% annual interest rate. He made no deposits or withdrawals on the account for 2 years. The interest was compounded annually. Find, to the nearest cent, the balance in the account after 2 years.

30.  Determine the smallest integer that makes -3x + 7 – 5x < 15 true.

31.  The residual plots from two different sets of bivariate data afe graphed below.  Explain, using evidence from graph A and graph B, which graph indicates that the model for the data is a good fit.

32.  A landscaper is creating a rectangular flower bed such that the width is half of the length. The area of the flower bed is 34 square feet. Write and solve an equation to determine the width of the flower bed, to the nearest tenth of a foot.


New York State Common Core Regents Exams Failing Students

New York State high school students sat for the Common Core ELA and Common Core Geometry Regents tests yesterday and reports are not sounding good.

I posted last week about the upcoming Common Core regents and that students needed to take the ELA and Algebra 1 Common Core regents because they are mandatory for earning a high school diploma.  This information is listed in the KHS student handbook and it is why I have been careful to talk about test REFUSAL specifically for grades 3-8.  The New York State Regents tests are most definitely high-stakes because graduation depends on them or at least on passing 1 math regent, 1 science regent, ELA regent, US History regent and Global History & Geography regent.  Click here to see the available diploma types and the credits/assessments required.  Note that the local diploma option is no longer available to general education students.

Some parents in other districts were shocked though when they received a letter informing them this weekend that the Common Core regents test was required for graduation since some parents had planned to refuse the Common Core regents tests.

According to letters from the New York State Education Department during transition periods to the new Common Core regents, the ‘old’ regents test and the new Common Core regents test will both be administered.  Students, depending upon when they began their high school course of study, may have the option to take both regents tests and take the higher grade but the clear expectation in the letters is that students will take both tests (pre-Common Core and Common Core version).

The Common Core regents tests have been problematic since they were introduced in June 2014 but haven’t gotten as much attention as the grade 3-8 state tests.  This year’s tests are seeming to continue the trend of problems and students/parents are wondering what to do?

This letter to the editor published on May 5, 2015 from Jose Rodriquez in Wappingers Falls reports his experience with the Algebra 1 Common Core regents introduced last June 2014.

When New York state first gave the Common Core math Regents, I was one of the students who had to take the exam. It was very difficult; even teachers were unhappy with it. Since it was the first time the state was administering the new test, the state made us take the regular algebra Regents exam. The state used us as test subjects to see how students would fare on the Common Core Regents. They used the old Regents exam as a fail-safe just in case a lot of students failed the Common Core, and whichever you scored highest on was the grade that counted.

I was one of many students who failed the Common Core Regents, but thankfully I passed the regular algebra Regents. Students have enough stress on them and this new curriculum is not helping. I know firsthand that students were dropping out because the Common Core Regents is really hard or they lacked confidence in their abilities. Dropout rates could continue to rise all across the state because of the governor’s education reform plan.

Comments after the second administration of the ELA Common Core regents in January 2015 were still generally negative about the test.

Comments I have seen posted on facebook about the Geometry Common Core regents (administered for the first time yesterday June 2) are resoundingly negative.  They report that students who were getting 90s in their Common Core Geometry class were devastated by the test.  It was really hard and included material that they had not learned in class.

Student Devin Vandermark gave permission to share his post:

Took the Common Core Geometry exam. I have a 98% in that class. In fact I help the other students in my class. This exam was a piece of work. I know I failed. I was not able to answer a lot of questions with 100% confidence or even sometimes answer anything at all. This exam made me upset, frustrated and really lowered how I feel going forward with these regents/state exams. I feel put down as a student in my geometry class.

A number of adults/parents attempted to reassure Devin with encouragement that he can take the upcoming ‘regular’ regents geometry test and take the higher of the two grades or that colleges will not look at the regents score.  However the general consensus seems to be that the Common Core regents tests are poorly worded and purposely confusing (sounds pretty much like the grade 3-8 tests) and designed to fail the majority of students.

If students, such as Devin, who would generally be considered to be ‘excelling’ in their classes can not pass the regents exams, how are our struggling students or the special education students going to pass?

I don’t know what ‘story’ NYSED is planning to tell as a result of this round of regents testing but the story emerging from a student/parent perspective is that the students are not failing the Common Core regents but the Common Core is failing the students.

Field testing – just say “No!”

Stand-alone field test time is here.

Each year students are asked to take a test and ‘try out’ questions so that the producers of the state tests can determine if the questions are ‘good questions’ or not.  Our students do not get paid for participating in these tests.  The results do not affect their grades in any way nor do they inform classroom instruction.  It just assists the test manufacturers along the road to more profit in the creation of next year’s state tests.

Only some schools and some grades within each school are asked by the New York State Education Department to participate in the field tests each year.  The field tests are to be administered between June 1-10, 2015 but the specific date is up to the school.  If a student is absent on the day of the field test, they do not have to make up the field test.  The field tests are NOT mandatory for the school district and in fact some school districts are refusing to participate in the field testing at all this year.

Southampton Field Testing Resolution

Deception associated with the field tests is also being reported.  A memo from NYSED has been reported to encourage teachers to lie about the purpose of the upcoming field tests.

A memo has recently surfaced in which the New York State Department of Education appears to encourage educators to mislead students about upcoming standardized field tests meant to “provide the data necessary to ensure the validity and reliability of the New York State Testing program.”

“Students should not be informed of the connection between these field tests and State assessments,” the memo reads. “The field tests should be described as brief tests of achievement in the subject.”  – Huffington Post May 28, 2015

Also a parent I know in Wappingers Falls reported that her child was already given the field test.   The field test administration is not supposed to begin until June 1 so she had not yet sent in her test REFUSAL letter and was very upset that the school administered the test early.

Parents may send in a letter of REFUSAL for the field tests as they did for the New York State tests back in April.   A sample field test REFUSAL letter is included in this post if you did not include field tests in your state test refusal for the state tests in April.  Even if you did include refusal of field testing previously, I recommend sending a reminder letter if your child’s school/grade is scheduled to participate in field testing.

Students in the Kingston City School District will be asked to take field tests as follows:

  • Chambers (620600010011) – grade 3 ELA
  • Crosby (620600010015) – grade 3 ELA and grade 4 ELA
  • Myer (620600010013) – grade 3 Math and grade 4 Math
  • George Washington (620600010012) – grade 4 ELA
  • Edson (620600010024) – grade 3 Math
  • JFK (620600010014) – grade 3 ELA and grade 4 ELA
  • Graves (620600010017) – grade 3 ELA
  • Bailey (620600010020) – grade 7 ELA and grade 8 ELA
  • Miller (620600010025) – grade 6 ELA and grade 7 ELA
  • KHS (620600010022) – Geometry, PS/Earth Science and Algebra 2/Trigonometry

Full schedules available here

Here is the field testing that KCSD students were asked to do last year.

High school students and state test REFUSAL – NOT a good match!

Kingston High School students and parents – just want to make sure that you understand to NOT refuse the upcoming New York State Regents tests even though some of them are ‘Common Core’ tests.  High school students are required to sit for these tests (and pass them) for graduation.**

The KCSD schedule (dates and times) for all of the Regents tests is available here.

Note that Kingston High School students will be taking the Common Core Regents tests for ELA and Geometry next Tuesday June 2, 2015 – bus and cafeteria details here.  The remainder of the Regents tests are administered during Regents week June 16-24, 2015.

There are definitely problems with the Common Core Regents tests (read here, here and here just to start) but unfortunately test refusal is not an option for drawing attention to the problems/dealing with the problems if students want a crack at graduating.

** Notes:

  • This chart lists how many credits and what assessments are required to graduate/earn a diploma as of May 2015.
  • There are limited situations where students may not be required to sit for certain exams if they have previously taken the exams and failed or if they have an IEP.  If your student has previously failed a Regents exam or is a student with an IEP, you might want to join the NY STOP GRAD HST facebook group to inquire about these special cases.

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!




REFUSE the New York State Math test TODAY!

The New York State Math test starts today April 22, 2015. If you have not submitted a REFUSAL letter, send it in with your student in the morning.

This link will allow you to quickly generate a Math Test REFUSAL letter if you need one.

By the way my student, who is an 8th grade student in Regents Algebra at Bailey, was told that she will not be taking the 8th grade NYS math test so I am assuming that means the REFUSAL letter I sent in will not count as a REFUSAL.  My student will be doing math and earth science with her regular teachers during the testing periods this week in preparation for the upcoming Regents tests in June.  I don’t know how many 8th graders there are in Regents Algebra who REFUSED the ELA test but we need new students REFUSING to take the math test (in addition to those who REFUSED the ELA test) to replace these Regents students in the REFUSAL counts.

As of April 21, 2015 4:48pm with 73.4% of school districts reporting, test REFUSAL numbers from the ELA test are at 184,666!

Test REFUSALS are having an impact!  Read here, here and below.

The fact that this [test REFUSAL/opt-out] is happening by the people, for the people, with no funding, is true democracy and is a dangerous thing. Folks would much prefer that we are sheeple and that we are incapable of strategically planning a nationwide opt out movement. Guess what? We did it. All of us. That makes us dangerous. That makes the media/corporations want to co-opt and shut down our work. A mass movement of civil disobedience that is running through our country like a tidal wave in an attempt to save our democracy is indeed a powerful force that no corporation can shut down.

– from Diane Ravitch – Peggy Robertson of United Opt Out responds to the New York Times’ Article – April 21, 2015




Submit your KCSD test REFUSAL by Friday April 10, 2015 – Correction

Kingston parents – I just received an e-mail from attendees at the District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) this evening that Bailey parents must submit notification of test REFUSAL for their students by tomorrow Friday April 10, 2015.  The e-mail said that parents are not allowed to refuse on the day of the test.  The ELA state testing begins next Tuesday April 14, 2015.

UPDATE 4/10/15 1:45pm – I received notification from Mrs. Linton at 1:19pm today that my information was indeed incorrect and Bailey Middle School will allow parents to submit refusal letters next week.  I apologize to Mrs. Linton for sending incorrect information as I said I would do.  I still encourage parents to get their refusals submitted as soon as possible but I am actually very glad that my information was incorrect so that parents can feel comfortable submitting refusal letters next Monday or Tuesday if they decide to refuse the tests next week.

It is too late at night to verify this information with the Bailey principal Mrs. Linton before sending it out so I will have to apologize after the fact if it is incorrect and you actually have the weekend to submit your refusals.  I don’t want to have anyone wait, thinking they have the time, and then get a nasty surprise on Monday or Tuesday.

Also I do not know if this same deadline applies to other schools in the Kingston school district.  I recommend that all parents submit your refusal letters tomorrow so you do not discover that it is ‘too late’.

I am hoping that many, many Kingston parents will be REFUSING the tests for their students and the school administrators will need to know how many refusing students they have to work with next week so let’s get those refusal letters in!

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.