Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Letter from a Hudson Valley Parent to New Paltz Times Urging Parents to Take Stand Against Excessive High-Stakes Testing Through NYS Field Test Refusals

Our children are spending much more time preparing and taking standardized tests than ever before, and these high-stakes tests are resulting in substantial negative educational and fiscal impacts. New, unproven accountability systems, coupled with state and federal disinvestment and a tax "cap," are creating unprecedented changes in how we educate and fund public education. These tests hurt students, schools, and public education; take resources away from other educational programs our community values; and have significantly adverse fiscal consequences for school budgets and property taxes. 

As school districts strive to educate students to be 21st century citizens for 21st century employment, the state is mandating systems that have not been scientifically proven to improve learning, in fact, they utilize methods that have a potential to harm and hinder student and teacher achievement. In this tax “cap” environment, the state is mandating risky educational and fiscal policy. While large cost drivers – such as health insurance, pensions, energy – are increasing well above the 2% threshold, school districts are diverting money to pay for systems of testing and scoring, a cost burden that is pushed to local taxpayers as the portion of school budgets funded by the state continues to be well below historical levels. Impressively, our local school board has taken a stand: the New Paltz Board of Education unanimously voted for a resolution in opposition to high-stakes testing, requesting that Albany and Washington reevaluate these mandates: Race to the Top and the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR).

In June, we have an opportunity to take a stand against this harmful proliferation of standardized testing. Across the state – after a year full of tests that will impact students’ and teachers’ and communities’ futures – the state is throwing salt on the wound by allowing the for-profit Pearson testing company to use our children as guinea pigs in what is called field testing. Field tests are experiments, that is, purely utilized to try out questions on students, using them as “research subjects”, taking away yet again more classroom learning time, with no compensation and no parental permission process. Students receive no grades for these tests, and in no way are their teachers or parents informed about their performance.

As mandated by the NYS Education Department, the New Paltz Central School District will be administering 4th grade field tests on June 5th and 7th and 8th grade field tests on June 6th. Parents, if you have children in these grades, I strongly encourage you to join me in respectfully submitting a request to the school district that your child(ren) not be exploited “subjects” in the June field tests. You can find a template text for opting out here:

KT Tobin
New Paltz

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