ALBANY -- A small contingent of local parents, students and activists who object to new state testing for grades three through eight gathered at the foot of the Capitol Building Tuesday in protest.
About 35 people, many from the New Paltz area, stood near the looming edifice of the New York State Department of Education Building on the first day of the new tests.
Starting Tuesday, students in grades three to eight will, for the first time, take assessments that reflect the state Common Core Learning Standards.
KT Tobin, an organizer for the New Paltz group ReThinking Testing: Mid-Hudson Region, said the group came to Albany to make it clear to legislators that the new tests were bad for both students and teachers. Tobin said students take the math and English tests first in the beginning of the school year and then again in the next few weeks to see how they've improved. Because students aren't prepared for the first tests, it's setting them up for failure, said Tobin.
"This is their entry into school - this is a test you're supposed to fail," said Tobin.
Protesters planned to go to the offices of local legislators to explain to them that the new tests were being rolled out to fast and bringing too much testing into the classroom of younger students.
Melanie Cronin, a New Paltz parent, brought three of her children along for the trip despite them having scheduled tests Tuesday.
"For a variety of reasons we don't want our kids to experience the anxiety of the tests," she said.
Cronin said the tests were not fair to students, teachers or school administration.
State Education Department Commissioner John King has said the new tests, part of which will count towards teacher evaluations, are necessary to see how the new Common Core standards are working.
"Only about 35 percent of our students graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary to be called college- and career-ready," King said in late March. "Quite frankly, our students are not doing well enough on those real world tests."
The new tests have also met with resistance from teachers' unions. The New York State United Teachers this month passed a resolution this month criticizing the state's "rocky implementation of new Common Core standards and demanding that this year's test results not be used for high-stakes decisions affecting students and teachers."