Letters went home to parents in at least two elementary schools (Edson and Crosby) in the Kingston City School District today telling parents that changes have been made in the New York State testing program and requesting that parents NOT opt their children out of the testing. I anticipate that similar letters were sent home to parents in the remaining schools in the district or will be sent this week since the NYS ELA test begins next week April 5-7, 2016.
Even though parents are being encouraged to believe differently, nothing significant has changed with regard to the New York State testing. The tests are shorter by a question or two but many kids will actually spend longer on testing because the tests are now untimed. Pearson still produced this year’s test questions even though NYS has signed a new contract with Questar. Who knows what the questions will be like as far as quality? Also every single issue that has existed regarding the adverse impact of the tests for special ed and ELL students still exists.
Please continue to REFUSE the New York State ELA and Math tests for grades 3-8 this April 2016.
By refusing you can be an Upstander. Even if you feel that your kids are not ‘hurt’ by taking the state tests, other kids are. When you refuse the state tests, you are helping to protect kids all throughout New York State. Jeanette Deutermann clearly shares the reasons for opting-out in this video.
Deborah Torres Henning, a parent from the Wappingers Central School District who I am very proud to stand beside in the fight against Common Core, has also written an excellent piece on why it is important to refuse the state tests.
Instead of asking “why refuse?” we should be asking “why does the state want the children to take them so badly?”
• 240,000 children did not take the New York State Math and English Language Arts assessments last year.
• The tests don’t count toward your child’s grades or promotional status.
• The tests don’t count toward receiving or not receiving special services.
• The tests are age and developmentally inappropriate.
• The tests were already too long, and now they are untimed, making them longer.
• The tests are developed by businessmen and corporations, not teachers.
• The tests are just another form of data mining. Data is the name of the game.
The state wants you to believe it has dramatically decreased the number of test questions and effectively reduced the time it takes to complete taking the tests. The reduction of one or two test questions is not significant, and the tests are now untimed, which means longer, not shorter. New York State Education Department’s “changes” are as meaningless as the tests themselves.
For those who say, “My child does well on the tests,” what are they doing well on? They are doing well on following orders, filling in bubbles, and navigating an absurd myriad of age and content inappropriate test questions that do not measure what they are learning in class and have no bearing on where they will be placed the following year. All you see is a number (1-4), specific results are not given to school districts or to parents — so there is no information at all on what they’ve learned, where their strengths are, or where they need improvement. The tests do not have any bearing on whether or not your child will or will not receive Academic Intervention Services or Response to Intervention Plan either.
Refusing the state tests does not mean your child will never have exposure to taking a test, nor does it mean you are teaching your child he or she doesn’t have to fulfill academic responsibility. Refusing means you are aware that these tests mean nothing, and you refuse to have your child be a guinea pig for the state and the test manufacturers.
School districts must make the tests available to all students, that does not mean they can force or “encourage” all students to take them. You have the option of refusing. Parents, you are the primary educator of your child, and you have first and final say. Parents’ rights supersede the rights of the school. Remember that. Always.
Your child provides free labor and research for the test manufacturers. Your schools have sold your child into indentured servitude in order to get grant money and the test manufacturers are cashing in.
The state Education Department and test manufacturers rely on your obedience to make your child take the tests, and they love to use threats to get you to do so. Don’t believe the threats you hear about losing funding or testing counting against your child’s teacher, these are scare tactics, and they work on people who don’t know the facts.
In a most recent development, our newly appointed Board of Regents Chancellor (and technically Commissioner Elia’s boss), Mrs. Betty Rosa, went on record to say, if she were a parent of a 3rd through 8th-grader today, she would refuse the tests. When the agency that supervises state Education Department and Mrs. Elia supports refusals, it is time for everyone to refuse!
I am for tests that measure my child’s growth and progress. I am for tests that give teachers and parents a dashboard to look at and pinpoint what questions they are struggling with or excelling in. I am for tests that are staggered throughout their school years and do not last for days. I am for meaningful testing.
I want my children educated when they go to school. I don’t send my children to test-taking school — I send them to school, just school. Please stop the rampant, abusive, useless testing and lets get back to educating the whole child. That won’t happen unless we all refuse these tests.
Update 4/4/16: Letters from other KCSD schools