Tag Archives: math

Common Core math sidetracks chance to take calculus in high school?

Here is some Common Core math information that parents might want to keep an eye on. http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/07/26/common-core-math-sidetracks-chance-take-calculus-high-school-supplanting-th-grade-math/13186153/

The article reports that some districts are delaying Integrated Algebra for almost all students until 9th grade and then creating a course compressing three years of math into two years for those students who want to be ready to take calculus in twelfth grade.  The writer, principal Carol Burris, is very concerned about this approach and the impact it will have on students’ ability to take calculus in high school.

I am anticipating that Kingston courses will not be changed as described in this article since one of the benefits of our high school is the wide offering of courses that we have for our students but that might depend upon how well our 8th grade students do in Integrated Algebra this year.

As parents of incoming 8th graders might know, the accelerated math course was not offered in middle school last year to 7th graders but our students are going to be given the opportunity to take Integrated Algebra (the regents Math) in 8th grade in 2014-2015. I am a little concerned because I was told when my older daughter went through middle school that the accelerated math was needed to get two years of math (7th and 8th grade math) into one year and have the students ready for Integrated Algebra. Hopefully our students will be as ready for the course this year after having taken a year of Common Core math as my older daughter who is entering 11th grade was when she took Integrated Algebra in 8th grade (after taking accelerated math in 7th grade).

I am also hearing that last year’s 8th graders who took two math tests – the Common Core math test and the Integrated Algebra Regents test – did well on the Integrated Algebra Regents test but did considerably worse on the Common Core math test, often by almost 10 percentage points difference. And this wasn’t just in the Kingston school district.  We will have to wait and see how these results are reported by the State Education Department.

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

Kingston parents refuse the state standardized tests!




Green Laces

Kingston refusal percentages doubled on the state math test!

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

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

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

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


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

iREFUSE Math test

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

Green Laces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

NYS Students and Teachers Feedback 2014 video


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

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

Find instructions for refusing the state test here.



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

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

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

Green Laces

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

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

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

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

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