Tag Archives: Test refusal

N.Y. Regents question standardized test data comparisons

The Board of Regents actually did a LOT more than just question standardized test data comparisons at their September 2016 monthly meeting according to this article.
 

The board that sets education policy for New York questioned Monday why the State Education Department touted gains on standardized test scores this year when most agree the data can’t be compared against previous years.

The department released the results of the state’s 2016 reading and math tests in July, showing that statewide proficiency grew 6.6 percentage points in reading and 1 percentage point in math compared to last year.

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia warned against making direct comparisons with results from prior years — a point she would reiterate in weeks to come — since the 2016 tests were shorter than previous years and untimed. But in their first public meeting since the announcement, the Regents expressed concern that comparisons were made at all.

“When we send out a package that says, you know, we’re moving up and charter schools did so much better, this goes to the press and then to the political people who make decisions on our behalf sometimes based upon data that can’t be compared,” said Regent Roger Tilles.

They questioned whether charter school test data is valid because charter schools do not have to follow the same rules as public schools so students might be receiving help with the tests. They also compared the tests to ‘child abuse’ for students new to the English language and Regent Tilles said “But I really don’t like giving those tests, even if we’re asked to do so. I would choose to opt out of them.”

A New Vision of Education

The following resolution from the Patchogue-Medford school board on Long Island, New York was reported by Diane Ravitch and is well worth a read through.

A New Vision of Education:  A Resolution Passed by the Patchogue-Medford School Board in New York

I will include the resolution as well in case you can not access the link.

WHEREAS, Learning standards must serve as a guide to what all children should develop toward and be based on developmental norms rather than systematic back-mapping of any given college and career readiness benchmark; and that such standards should be created by New York State classroom educators and content area specialists experienced in the grade level for which they are creating standards, with feedback from parents, community members, and where appropriate, students; and that such standards must specify at what level of difficulty a student is expected to demonstrate proficiency on state tests; and that such standards should be based on peer reviewed and evidence based research for each grade level, including lexile benchmarks; and that such standards should serve as a guide to what skills to what skills and concepts are taught at each grade level; and that such standards must be broad enough to allow local teachers, as professionals, to determine methodology, content, and instructional practices and assessments that will best suit the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that such standards must include fine and gross motor skills, including handwriting; and that such standards must broadly address play skills, a well researched and critical aspect of learning for students, to ensure that schools allocate instructional time for self-selected and guided play, particularly in the early grades; and that such standards in all grades must address cultural competencies;

AND
WHEREAS, School districts must be given adequate funding to create or purchase culturally relevant curriculum that meets the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that all schools must have dedicated funding for curriculum-based field trips and project-based, experiential learning; and that music, art, physical education, and technology should be integrated into the curriculum for all students in grades K-12; and that all schools must offer at least one consistent foreign language in grades K-12; and that any state-wide digital learning platforms must be evidence based, piloted, and studied for both efficacy and safety before being implemented; and that all high schools must offer advanced mathematics and science courses as well as advanced electives in all disciplines; and that all schools’ curricula should offer significant opportunities for students to exercise choice and direct aspects of their own learning;

AND
WHEREAS, Any federally mandated statewide assessments must be created by New York State classroom educators, including test question construction and reading passage selection; and that in a system that includes local assessment, classroom educators must have the primary role in constructing or selecting the assessments; and that tests must be criterion referenced rather than norm referenced and results must be given back within 4 weeks of administration; and that College and Career readiness benchmarks aligned with test proficiency must be aligned with strong indicators of post-high school success that have been vetted for racial, cultural, and socioeconomic bias; and that any federally mandated statewide assessments must be no longer than one day per subject with time limits established by a committee of classroom educators experienced in the grade level for which the assessment has been developed; and that time limits must be based on grade level expectations for time on task; and that the misuse of assessment data must stop; and that statewide exams must be decoupled from any high stakes including but not limited to teacher and principal evaluations, grounds for school takeover or closure, use as admittance criteria to selective schools, promotion, programs, and retention; and that on any statewide test, all test content, reading passages, and questions must align to the grade level benchmarks and lexile levels for the grade in which it is being administered; and that test scores and high stakes exit exams must not be the only pathway to graduation; and that students must have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in other ways such as portfolios and interviews; and that Regents exams must be scheduled in such a way so as to ensure that no student must take more than one Regent exam per day; and that assessments must be subject to full transparency, including the annual release of comprehensive technical reports that provide transparency on specific items; and that all parents and guardians must be notified of their right to refuse standardized tests for their child(ren), with notification must be provided in the parent or guardian’s native language;

AND
WHEREAS, New York State must fully and equitably fund our public schools; and that reasonable class size caps (for example, 18 students in K-3, 23-25 in other grades) must be used in aid and funding formulas as the basis for school aid determination; and that all schools must have at least one full time nurse, social worker, and security guard/safety officer, with all security guard/safety officers receiving crisis intervention and cultural competency training; and that all schools must have a well-resourced library and a full time librarian; and that all schools must have adequate counseling support provided by a psychologist, as determined by the overall number of students, the number of students with special needs, and the level of poverty a school is experiencing; and that all schools must have up to date technological infrastructure and resources, where state aid and funds for these resources should not be contingent upon schools increasing their capacity to administer computer-based assessments; and that in conjunction with parents, educators, school board members, and community members, the Board of Regents should develop a framework for what every public school in NYS must have in order to ensure equity and student success, where this framework should help drive the State’s accountability system as well as its funding; and that in Pre-K and in grades K-6, all students must have at least 60 minutes of recess per day in addition to the federally mandated 120 minutes of physical education per week; and that all students must be guaranteed at least 30 minutes for lunch, and this time may not be used for instructional purposes; and that all teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals must receive training in cultural competency, crisis intervention, and restorative justice practices; and that mandatory common planning time should be provided for general education, special education and ENL teachers, and intervention specialists who share students; and that New York State must prioritize the recruitment and retention of teachers from diverse backgrounds that reflect the students they serve, are trained in a fully accredited education program, and have completed a full course of student teaching with a trained mentor; and that all school districts must offer a strong teacher mentoring program to help new teachers navigate their first few years of service; and that schools must provide access to medical and dental services as well as high quality nutrition for ALL students who need them; and that all families must have access to fully funded, high quality Pre-Kindergarten;

AND
WHEREAS, The role of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) must be restored and allowed to drive instruction for the individual student and should be guided by the needs, interests & development of each student; and that the needs of the student must inform IEP goals rather than alignment to learning standards that are currently in flux; and that all special education teachers must receive training in evidence-based methodologies for teaching math and reading to struggling learners; and that all co-taught models must have a full time special education teacher; and that students with disabilities must have access to pathways that lead to a diploma and provide access to vocational training that is aligned with student interest and strengths; and that special education teachers must have time set aside on a weekly or daily basis to engage in differentiated curriculum work, intervention planning, communication with parents, and fulfillment of IEP and special education mandates;

AND
WHEREAS, The following five principles should be incorporated in any law or policy regarding the protection of personal student data in grades preK-12, and after students reach age 18, all these rights, including those related to notification and consent, should devolve to them:

Transparency: Parents must be notified by their children’s school or district in advance of any disclosure of personal student information to any persons, companies or organizations outside of the school or district. Once notified, parents to must be able to opt out of the disclosure of their child’s personal data. All disclosures to third parties should also require publicly available contracts and privacy policies that specify what types of data are to be disclosed for what purposes, and provide a date certain when the data will be destroyed.

No commercial uses: Selling of personal student data and/or use for marketing purposes should be banned. No advertising should be allowed on instructional software or websites assigned to students by their schools, since ads are a distraction from learning and serve no legitimate educational purpose.

Security protections: At minimum, there must be encryption of personal data at motion and at rest, required training for all individuals with access to personal student data, audit logs, and security audits by an independent auditor. Passwords should be protected in the same manner as all other personal student information. There must be notification to parents of all breaches, and indemnification of the same. No “anonymized” or “de-identified” student information should be disclosed without verifiable safeguards to ensure data cannot be easily re-identified.

Parental/ student rights: No re-disclosures by vendors or any other third parties to additional individuals, sub-contractors, or organizations should be allowed without parental notification and consent (or students, if they are 18 or older). Parents must be allowed to see any data collected directly from their child by a school or a vendor given access through the school, delete the data if it is in error or is nonessential to the child’s transcript, and opt out of further collection, unless that data is part of their child’s educational records at school. Any data-mining for purpose of creating student profiles, even for educational purposes, must be done with full parental knowledge. Parental consent must be required for disclosure of personal data, especially for highly sensitive information such as their child’s disabilities, health and disciplinary information.

Enforcement: The law should specify fines if the school, district or third party violates the law, their contracts and/or privacy policies; with parents able to sue on behalf of their children’s rights as well.

THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford School District, in agreement with the New York State Allies for Public Education, calls upon the Governor of New York State, the New York State Legislature, the New York State Commissioner of Education, and the New York State Board of Regents, to consider this outline as a new framework for public education in New York State, a framework that serves all students; an equitable public education system in which ALL students can succeed; a vision of public education that prioritizes child-centered and developmentally appropriate learning standards and assessments, research and evidence based practices and policies, equitable resources and opportunities, and an accountability system that supports rather than punishes; what all schools must have in order to foster creative, critically thinking, confident, well-rounded, independent, self-motivated, culturally competent, and well-prepared students who can work cooperatively and excel post-high school, whether they choose to attend college or pursue a vocation. Further, we call on all aspects of public education to be rooted in ethical practices and democratic decision making.

Refuse NYS testing because Common Core is broken

I have read many articles about why parents should refuse the New York State tests this year but this one by William Farmer is the one that I wish I would have written.

Will has captured my belief that the real problem is not the tests but the Common Core standards that the tests are designed to enforce as well as the refusal of many New York State officials, including Governor Cuomo, former NYS Commissioner John King and some members of the NYS Assembly, Senate and Board of Regents, to listen to the concerns raised about the Common Core standards, the tests and other associated educational changes.  There are problems with the NYS standardized tests themselves but just fixing the tests will not fix our education problems.

The key here isn’t that kids are spending too much time on “test prep” or the tests themselves. Rather, it’s that the standards upon which the tests are based are flawed and must be fixed.

It took a massive opt-out for the state to actually discuss correcting the problems they created.

New York state has admitted there are serious problems with the standards and it took four years to get to this point. The Education Department either lied to us or they were grossly negligent when rushing into Common Core.

Either option does not inspire parents to place our trust they will now do what is in the best interest of the students.

Like Will, I do not have much faith in the state officials who have discounted the voices of parents for the past four years.  Even now Commissioner Elia, while stating that parents do have the right to refuse the state tests, is still committed to the Common Core standards allowing for only minor adjustments as well as to the benefits of standardized testing.  I would like to believe that I can trust the promises for change that Commissioner Elia and Governor Cuomo have made but until I see real changes, codified in law, I believe that parents will need to continue to make their voices heard by opting-out/refusing the state tests.

 

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.

Support notification of parents about Test REFUSAL

I have a very personal request for friends and parents who are concerned about New York State testing and Common Core.
 
Please do not assume that everyone knows about the problems with the New York State tests, Common Core, etc. and will therefore REFUSE the tests for their own children and in support of the children around New York State. There are strong efforts all across the state from educatorsadministrators, newspapers, business people, and on the list goes to decrease test REFUSAL numbers in New York State this year. Also many who have been opposing testing are getting tired as this battle for our children’s education drags on.
 
If you understand the problems associated with the standardized tests, please share that information with other parents.
 
Also please financially support the fundraiser by Loy Gross and Deb Escobar of United to Counter the Core raising money for a Robocall this Sunday to let parents know about REFUSING the upcoming ELA and Math state tests. A single dollar allows for 25 calls; a $20 donation means the OPT-Out/Test REFUSAL message will reach 500 people.
 
I donated for the robocall and I hope you will as well.

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.

refusal_letter_2015-2016__8_

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

What NYSED “forgot” to tell you regarding Grades 3-8 NY State Tests

Reblogging The Rest of the Story

What NYSED forgot header

As part of the “tool kit” put together by Commissioner Elia and the NYSED, schools have started to distribute this flyer in an effort to coerce parents into participating in the 2016 Grade 3-8 Math and ELA tests.  Much of the information provided is true: but plenty of information has been conveniently omitted from this flyer as the Commissioner continues to try to deceive the public into thinking that these “changes” will benefit children.  Parents are not appeased because the bottom line is as such: testing still dominates their child’s educational experience.

Let’s take a closer look at what NYSED “forgot” to mention …

click here to continue reading

How the Grinches made Common Core

For all the parents and kids discouraged by the damage wrought by Common Core in New York State, read this poem, chuckle and be encouraged to keep up the fight.

This poem was written by H. Brooks, an 11-year-old student on Long Island, whose mother is active in the Opt Out movement.

How The Grinches Made Common Core

A poem by H. Brooks, Inspired by Dr. Seuss

In Honor of the Common Core push-back, and my mommy

There once lived some people,
on top of Mount Gov.
Their name was the Government,
and they sure did love
to make education
so wrong for the kids,
those kids down in Yorkville,
in the state of New Ziz.

The Yorks, however, felt something was strange,
so they traveled up
the whole mountain range,
just to get to the top, to go try and stop,
those nasty old grinches
at the top of Mount Gov.

But the grinches said NO! We’ll fight till you obey.
We won’t let up on Core and testing! We MUST get our way!
So the Yorks went down, feeling somewhat defeated.
And the very next weekend, the York council meeted.

They talked about art, about social studies, and trees,
They talked about awful buzz-stinging bees.
But most of all, they talked about testing and Core,
The Yorks wanted less; the Gov wanted more.
The Yorks asked the little Yorks what they thought of school.
The little Yorks said, “It used to be fun, but now it’s not cool.”
So the Yorks went to Albany, to see those old meanies,
But compared to the Government, the York protest seemed teeny!

The grinches said, “We won’t change a bit!
It simply won’t help, it will just cause more fits!”
The Yorks tried very hard to set the Gov straight,
But the Gov said, “Go home! It’s getting quite late.”

The Yorks fought for months and months and weeks and weeks and weeks,
and what do you think happened next at that peak,
the peak of Mt. Gov, where the Government sat?
Finally, the King was sent out. At last!

With less grinches left, maybe it would be easier,
to convince the grinches not to be so sleezy-er.
But then – oh no! – the head Grinch was re-elected,
four more long years – and he’s clearly ineffective!

But wait – what is this? What’s happening in York?
Forums and meetings and opt outs galore!
And all this because of some hopeful dads and moms
Who came together on Facebook to keep their kids calm.

Oh me, oh my, lots of depressing things went by,
for those hopeful parents who really did try.
For out of the blue, from behind closed doors,
a Gov to replace King – who also loves testing and Core.

Now this new Gov was infamous around town,
And she made sure that all of her thoughts got around.
She made speeches and interviews and told people things
that were about as true as monkeys with wings.

Then suddenly, all at once, Yorks started to see,
The Head Gov’s making speeches, about failing CC.
And all of a sudden, they say there’s a right to Opt Out,
Have these parents done their work right? We have no doubt!

Now parents from everywhere (except the South Pole)
are fighting back, with heart, and with soul.
Kids and teens, and in betweens,
are Opting Out by the thousands. Oops! REFUSING, I mean.

And maybe – just maybe, if the Gov took these tests,
They’d opt their kids out too, I bet.
But they’re too arrogant, too greedy, too yuck!
Maybe they’ll slightly agree, if the Yorks have some luck.

Could they come down to our schools? Could they see kids read and write?
Could they finally understand why the Yorks put up such a fight?
Could they put in some more science? Could ELA non-fiction be mashed?
Could they do good for our students? Or will they just waste our cash?

This story’s not finished, there’s more yet to come.
There’s still too much testing, and Core’s on the run.
So remember, dear people, as you read this story,
Have hope for the Yorks, that they’ll soon get their glory.

Deborah Abramson Brooks, Esq.

Co-founder, Port Washington Advocates for Public Education; https://www.facebook.com/groups/1596839960529301/

Member, New York State Allies for Public Education; http://www.nysape.org/

Member, National Parent Coalition for Student Privacy; http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/  

NYSAPE’s Response to Tim Kremer, Executive Director of NYSSBA

Timothy Kremer, Executive Director of New York State School Boards Association, wrote an article last week to “encourage” parents to allow their children to take the state tests this year. He believes that enough change is under way and that parents should be ready to get back with the program and let their kids take the tests or as he puts it
parents and teachers in New York State should recognize that testing boycotts are not constructive – especially when everyone is bending over backwards to try to make the very adjustments that parents have sought as quickly as possible.
I wholeheartedly agree with NYSAPE’s response to Mr. Kremer.
In a nutshell
Until the changes we have enumerated are CODIFIED IN LAW and we see them implemented in our children’s classrooms, our opt out numbers will continue to grow.  (emphasis mine)
 *****
 Refuse tests because we love our kids Conversation Heart
Full text of NYSAPE’s letter below:

January 27, 2016

New York State School Boards Association

Attn: Mr. Tim Kremer, Executive Director

24 Century Hill Drive, Suite 200

Latham, NY 12110–2125

Dear Mr. Kremer,

This letter is in response to your commentary titled, “Take yes for an answer,” in the January 25th edition of NYSSBA’s On Board. We would like to thank you for recognizing the role that New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) have played in being a “vocal and politically effective group of parents and educators opposed to a ‘test and punishment’ culture.” On behalf of the 50-plus grassroots organizations across the state that we proudly call allies in the fight to reclaim our public schools, we wish to respond to some of the arguments you made.

You state that “although our state has shifted from overdrive to neutral on testing, NYSAPE has declared it’s frustrated that ‘nothing has changed.” You continue with several examples where you believe some changes have been made, such as:

  • The governor has “endorsed the recommendations of his Common Core Task Force….”
  • The Board of Regents has placed a moratorium on the consequences for students and teachers of the 3–8 tests for the next four years.
  • A new testing vendor will play a large role in the state tests next year and according to Commissioner Elia, “teachers will be even more closely involved in the vetting and development process.”
  • “In the near future, New York will once again revisit its learning standards, grade-by-grade.”

Unfortunately, promises of change will not suffice until the governor and the legislature change the law. “Endorsements” and “moratoriums” are not changes in law, they are modifications. Furthermore, they are modifications that do nothing for the students taking this spring’s 3–8 tests — tests that will still be developmentally inappropriate, far too long, invalid measures of student growth or knowledge, and provide third party vendors with personally identifiable information without sufficient privacy protections. Moreover, our teachers will still be rated on the basis of unreliable and often invalid local assessments, which will not relieve their anxiety nor the test prep culture that has overtaken our schools.

You continue, “The point is that the state is taking seriously the concerns raised by parents, teachers, and others. It’s hard to understand why NYSAPE thinks further antagonism through test refusals is their best course of action.” Our response to this is we wouldn’t even be having a conversation if over 240,000 brave parents had not chosen to opt their children out of the 3–8 tests. What you call “antagonism”, we call “protecting our children.” Lastly, you include the veiled threat of federal sanctions if schools do not meet the required 95% participation rate for the 3–8 ELA and math tests. No state has ever lost federal funding due to a testing boycott on the part of parents. Taking Title I money away from the neediest students in order to punish parents who are boycotting a testing system that is out of control is not defensible. Any lawmaker or policymaker taking this course of threatening action would be under extreme political fall-out from the people they serve.

If you would like to see parents become a part of the solution instead of viewing them as the problem, we would welcome an opportunity to meet with you and the NYSSBA Board members to further explain what needs to be accomplished before we opt back into the system. Until the changes we have enumerated are codified in law and we see them implemented in our children’s classrooms, our opt out numbers will continue to grow.

Sincerely,

Steering Committee Members of New York State Allies for Public Education:

Jamaal Bowman, Bronx,

Carol Burris, Queens,

Nancy Cauthen, NYC

Chris Cerrone, Western NY

Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island

Tim Farley, Capital Region

Kevin Glynn, Long Island

Leonie Haimson, NYC

Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island

Jessica McNair, Central NY

Lisa Rudley, Westchester

Bianca Tanis, Hudson Valley

Katie Zahedi, Hudson Valley

CC: ​Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, NYS Education Department

NYS Board of Regents

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Secretary of Education Jere Hochman

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of Assembly Education Committee

Assemblywoman Debra Glick, Chair of Assembly Higher Education Committee

Senator Carl Marcellino, Chair of Senate Education Committee

NYS School Boards of Education Members

Bonnie Russell, President of NYS PTA

John McKenna, President of SAANYS

Karen Magee, President of NYSUT

Penalties for Refusing NYS Standardized Tests in 2016?

When parents refused the New York State standardized Common Core tests last spring, there were high hopes that change would be wrought and we wouldn’t have to be talking about refusing the state tests this year.

Unfortunately over 220,000 parents/students refused the tests and yet not much has changed in New York other than the name of the person who is in charge of the New York State Education Department. Commissioner Elia speaks of change but it is mostly in the future and not really in the areas that matter most to parents.

The students will still be taking developmentally inappropriate tests that are excessively long if they do not refuse the 2016 tests.  Even though a new testing company Questar has been hired, the 2016 tests were developed by Pearson.  Fifty percent (50%) of teachers’ evaluation will still be based on testing so testing will be the focus of the classrooms throughout the state.  The ‘official’ word is that a moratorium is being declared on the standardized tests and the results will not be used.  Seems to me like there is no need to administer the tests if the results are not being used.  In fact, for schools in receivership the test scores are being used to determine if the school can get out of receivership so there actually is no moratorium.

NYSAPE Nothing has changed 2016

The question is being asked, are there going to be financial penalties if too many parents/students refuse the state tests in 2016?

You would think we got this settled last year (here and here) but the question raised its ugly head again with a memo from the federal Department of Education in December 2015.  Note that the linked memo is actually an annotated version of the memo including a parental response from Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt-Out and NYSAPE.

According to analysis by FairTest, parents can safely refuse/opt-out/boycott standardized testing without fear of federal penalty to their schools.

In fact, the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) specifically authorizes states to allow parents to opt their children out of exams. ESSA does require 95% of students to be tested — but individual states have the power to decide what actions to take if too few students take an exam.

Some states have passed legislation protecting parental rights. Here’s the rub – New York State has not passed such legislation.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco introduced the Common Core Parental Refusal Act in March 2015 which would have given New York State parents the needed protection as well as requiring that parents be notified of their right to refuse.  Unfortunately due to party bickering, the majority party decided to introduce their own version of the bill, that lacked the important parental notification requirement, and neither version was passed.

It is now incumbent upon the New York State legislature to pass the Common Core Parental Refusal Act protecting a parent’s right to refuse standardized testing without penalty to the student, teacher, school or school district.

Don’t believe the hype Cuomo and State Ed are spinning! The Common Core Tests are still around to rob children of their love of learning and teachers of their creatitvy. If the changes they are professing to make to Common Core and to the standards are not lived up to, parents need to have in their back pocket a safeguard to opt their children out of the tests without fear of reprisal. Today, I joined my colleagues to talk about education including moving forward with the opt-out movement and codifying into law with the Common Core Parental Refusal Act (A.6025/S.4161) the right of parents to refuse to have their children take the developmentally inappropriate standardized tests without fear of any penalty to the students, teachers or schools. Sign the petition today at www.refusecommoncore.com!

James Tedisco at New York State Capitol.

Support the Common Core Parental Refual Act by signing the petition here.

Also contact your legislators and tell them to demand that the Common Core Parental Refusal Act A.6025/S.4161 be moved out of the Education committee and voted into law!