Tag Archives: Middle School

Test REFUSAL in Kingston City School District

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.

Crosby opt in letter
Crosby opt in letter
Edson opt in letter
Edson opt in letter


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

Chambers opt in letter
Chambers opt in letter
GW testing letter
GW testing letter


GW testing letter in Spanish
GW testing letter in Spanish
JFK opt in letter
JFK opt in letter
Miller opt in letter
Miller opt in letter
Myer opt in letter
Myer opt in letter

Parent involvement in Middle School

reblogging from Alice Wellborn:

Middle school teachers appreciate parents who are involved with their children, communicate with teachers, and take part in the school community.  Many parents pull back during the middle school years, and become much less involved in school and the school community.  It’s hard to be a strong partner with teachers, because kids this age aren’t thrilled about parents coming to school, so parents who manage to stay involved are much appreciated!

continue reading

Transitioning to Life After High School

Parents/Caregivers of Middle School and High School students with an IEP or 504 plan: these forums on graduation requirements and transitioning are for you!

The first, Pathways To Graduation, on February 16th is very critical for you to learn the options that lead to a diploma or a certificate.

Kingston Transition Planning Parent Series 2016

Forum details:

Kingston City School District in collaboration with the Kingston Special Education Parent Group cordially invite you to attend a series of free information sessions on important topics affecting students who are planning for their transition to life after high school.

Held in the High School AUDION (Room 517) from 6:30pm-8:30pm

Session 1: Tuesday, February 16th (Snow Date: Wednesday, February 17th)  Pathways to Graduation
This presentation will offer parents an overview on the requirements that need to be met in order to graduate with a diploma as well as a review of the different types of diploma options available for students with disabilities. An introduction to a new exiting credential of work readiness will also be shared.

Session 2: Tuesday, March 15th (Snow Date: Wednesday, March 16th)  Understanding the NYS Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential
This presentation is especially recommended for parents of children with an IEP in 8th grade or higher, to learn about the requirements for an important exiting credential that students can earn upon exit from school which recognizes a student’s preparation skills and demonstration of knowledge and experience needed for entrylevel
employment opportunities. The Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential which is awarded only to students that have taken the NYS Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) will also be reviewed. (*Please note this session is not applicable to students with a 504 Plan.)

Session 3: Tuesday, April 12th (Snow Date: Wednesday, April 13) Preparing for the Transition to College
This presentation is designed to assist parents of young adults with an IEP or 504 Plan in understanding the differences that can be expected as students move from high school to a college setting. Topics include: laws which govern services at the college level; the process to access academic accommodations, disability documentation requirements; the changing role of parents; and tips on what students can do now to gain the
necessary skills needed for a successful college experience.

Session 4: Tuesday, May 17th  Transition Planning for Families – Preparing for Life after High School
This presentation will provide parents with information on the school to post-school transition planning process.  Families are essential partners with the school district and collaboration with the Committee on Special Education (CSE) team is extremely important to fully understand considerations for successful career development and transition to adulthood. The workshop will help parents to think about: your child today, your child in the future and the support required to help your child achieve his/her long-term goals.

Matters Helping All Parents: Conflicts for Positive Change

Have you checked out the Matters Helping All Parents:  Conflicts for Positive Change posts that MHA in Ulster County has posted this month?

Week 1 kicked off the theme with a video of Practical Tips to Reduce Conflicts with Parents and Children.

Week 2 provided resources on No Drama Discipline

Week 3 gave parents the opportunity to share stories of successful conflict management in the home.

Week 4 (this week) talked about how mistakes can be OPPORTUNITIES to help our children learn.  I particularly liked this portion from the “Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn” article for this week:

So much parenting and teaching is based on fear. Adults fear they aren’t doing a good job if they don’t make children do better. Too many are more concerned about what the neighbors will think than about what their children are learning.  Others are afraid that children will never learn to do better if they don’t instill them with fear and humiliation.  Most are afraid because they don’t know what else to do—and fear that if they don’t inflict blame, shame and pain, they will be acting permissively.

There is another way.  It is not permissive, and it truly motivates children to do better without paying the price of a lowered sense of self-worth. Teach children to be excited about mistakes as opportunities to learn.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear an adult say to a child, “You made a mistake. That is fantastic. What can we learn from it?” And I do mean “we.” Many mistakes are made because we haven’t taken time for training and encouragement. We often provoke rebellion instead of inspiring improvement.



Keeping youth out of the Juvinile Justice System – December 3, 2015

The Kingston High School Parents Association (KHS PA) invites KHS parents, Kingston Middle School parents and community members to attend a workshop titled “STSJP and One80 programs: Keeping youth out of the Juvenile Justice System by engaging in pro-social activities

Date:  Thursday December 3, 2015  6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Location:  Kingston Library Community Room (second floor)

Presenter:  Ms. Dana Katz, Family of Woodstock

The workshop will be followed by a short KHS PA meeting from 7:30 pm – 8:00 pm.

If your student has ever done something wrong and been excessively punished or just been in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’, this workshop is for you. If you are concerned about an excessively punitive culture and would like to see more restorative justice, this workshop is for you. If you are concerned that your student might make a bad choice in the future and be faced with some scary consequences, this workshop is for you. If you care about the kids here in Kingston, this workshop is for you.

KHS PA Dec 3 flyer

Hope to see you at the workshop on December 3, 2015.

HOPE 2015 on November 14, 2015 canceled



Helping Others Protect Everyone

Ways to resolve conflicts and improve relationships in our homes and communities

November 14, 2015 9am – Noon

CANCELED due to unexpected circumstances

The HOPE conference will not be rescheduled.

The KHS PA knows that bullying and the broader scope of conflict are pervasive problems in our society that not only impact the education of our students but their entire lives. Since the HOPE workshops were providing information intended to help parents and students deal with conflict more successfully as well as help each person feel more empowered to help others and protect themselves, the KHS PA is making arrangements to offer the workshops as part of upcoming KHS Parents Association meetings.

Mark your calendar to attend the KHS PA meetings now and watch the KHS PA webpage for meeting topics.

The next meeting is December 3, 2015 at 6:30pm

How to live with your teen without losing your mind

Adoring and adorable children can become adolescents who say and do things that result in hurt, anger, conflict, and fears for their safety. In plain language, learn about exciting new research that sheds light on “why did you do that?” and “what were you thinking?!”. Practical tools for retaining your sanity will be shared.

Love Shouldn’t Hurt

Teen Dating Violence 101: Recognizing and Responding to Physical and Emotional Violence in Teen Romantic Relationships. A workshop for parents and teens in middle school and high school.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Are you or someone you know or love suffering from depression? How do you tell? What can you do? Come and learn some of the signs of depression and how you can help.

While you are waiting for the next KHS PA meeting, check out this video posted as part of the monthly Matters Helping All Parents program from MHA in Ulster County.  “Practical Tips to Reduce Conflicts with Parents and Children”

HOPE 2015 – November 14, 2015

HOPE 2015 CANCELED as of 11/10/15 – details here

The Kingston High School Parents Association (KHS PA) is excited to present HOPE 2015 on Saturday November 14, 2015.

Bullying and the broader scope of conflict are pervasive problems in our society that not only impact the education of our students but their entire lives.

It is our desire with HOPE that students, parents and our community as a whole will learn information that will help each person to deal with conflict more successfully whether it is in their own life or in the life of a friend or loved one. We want each person leaving HOPE to feel more empowered to help others and protect themselves.

HOPE 2015 flyer

HOPE 2015 Flyer


Cultural Competency

Matters Helping All Parents, the new monthly program from the Mental Health Association in Ulster County, Inc., has focused on Cultural Competency for the month of October.

Cultural competence consists of knowledge and interpersonal skills that help people better understand, appreciate and work with individuals from cultures other than their own.  Culture does not just refer to nationality.  It can refer to ethnicity, nationality, language, religion and many other factors.

Cultural Competency Week 1 included tips for parents in addressing cultural issues with our children.

Cultural Competency Week 2 focused on common misconceptions about cultural competency/diversity issues.

Cultural Competency Week 3, which is this week, asks parents to share success stories navigating cultural competency with our child/ren.  You can read and respond on the MHA website or on the MHA facebook page.



Matters Helping All Parents

The Mental Health Association in Ulster County (MHA in Ulster County) kicked off a year-long program Matters Helping All Parents in August 2015.

This program will feature a different topic each month with a new post each week providing information to help parents be successful as well as opportunities for parents to discuss the information and/or share experiences regarding the particular topic.  One of the most exciting aspects of this program for me personally is that the information is not just for parents of younger children – parents of middle school and high school students will find much information to help them with understanding their kids and figuring out how to successfully parent through the challenging teen years.

The topic for August was Matters Helping All Parents:  School Achievement and here is a peek at the first week’s post:

At MHA we believe that all parents want to be successful.  Over the next year we want to share information and support on topics important to you and your child.  We begin with school achievement.

A number of factors can influence your child’s school achievement.  Here are some resources we think can help navigate common concerns.

(1) School Stress – Helping to Overcome Elementary Anxiety: here

(2) School Phobia/School Avoidance/School Refusal: A handout for Parents:http://www.adlit.org/article/5907/?theme=print, or here

(3) School Avoidance in Teens: http://teenology101.seattlechildrens.org/school-avoidance-in-teens/, or here

The post for School Achievement Week 2 included information regarding the legal aspects of school attendance and a discussion of school refusal and truancy.

School Achievement Week 3 gave parents the opportunity to share success stories of dealing with school avoidance.  If you have worked through this challenging area, please share your story to help other parents who might be dealing with similar challenges.

School Achievement Week 4 focused on helping to reduce your child’s school stress.

MHA introduced the topic Matters Helping All Parents: Understanding Child/Adolescent Development in September with some videos regarding the psychology of child and adolescent development in week 1, development charts in week 2,  the opportunity to share success stories in week 3 and age-specific (infant through age 17) positive parenting tips in week 4.

Matters Helping All Parents information can be found on the MHA website, the MHA facebook page or by searching #MHAParents