Friday, February 6, 2015
In a letter to the editors of The Daily Freeman, the Bennett PTA (Onteora School District) wrote the following:
There is growing frustration with the amount of testing our young children are subjected to. I have noticed a significant loss of instruction time, an increased level of stress in the classroom and a poor message to our children about the importance of tests.
The average fourth-grade student is 9 years old and is required by the state Department of Education to prepare for three state exams in the spring: English Language Arts, math and science. These tests total eight days of administration, as well as three to six weeks of test preparation. In total, our children are losing four to six weeks of in-class instruction time per test.
Our children also take ELA and math tests three times a year to monitor their progress. They also take pre- and post-assessment tests in art, music, library, physical education and social studies, totaling 21 standardized tests annually. The numbers are the same for grades three to six, with the exception of the state science test.
It is no wonder we are seeing a loss of hands-on, inquiry-based learning in our classrooms. With the emphasis on math and ELA testing, we are witnessing the erosion of science and social studies from the curriculum.
Excessive testing teaches our children that there is only one right answer in academics and in life. It takes the joy out of learning and minimizes the value and importance of taking a test when it really counts. And it is ruining public education.
As an immediate solution, members of the Bennett School PTA are encouraging our parent body in grades three to six to refuse the state tests in ELA, math and science this spring. These tests are inappropriate for our children, are unfair to our teachers, take away valuable classroom time and are not part of our child’s overall grade or individual assessment.
We intend to send a message to the state.
Heather Roberts, Vice President
Bennett School PTA
No Child Left Behind requires that students take an annual standardized test for purposes of holding schools “accountable” from Grades 3-8 and once in high school. Whether such annual testing is now being hotly debated as congress begins deliberations over the reauthorization of the bill. Here’s an article from the Washington Post looking at this issue, by Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York.
"Because of NCLB and now Common Core testing, I have witnessed schools move from progressive practices such as inclusion, to the grouping of special education students with ELLs and other struggling learners into “double period” classes where they are drilled to pass the test. We are seeing a resurgence in elementary school of “ability grouping,” which predictably results in classes that are segregated by race and wealth. Worse of all, a plethora of bad policies have emerged that use yearly testing results as their basis."Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/01/principal-what-ive-learned-about-annual-standardized-testing/
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Among their recommendations:
- We support option 1 to eliminate mandated annual testing, and we urge the Senate to remove high stakes attached to standardized tests, encourage flexibility in designing assessments, and provide the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized testing.
- Restore reducing class size as option that states and districts can use with their Title II funds, which is a research-based reform that also works to lower teacher attrition.
- Eliminate the use of federal funds for merit pay, which has consistently failed to improve student outcomes.
- Add to the reporting requirements of districts, states and the federal government so they must report trends in average class size data, as well as the disparity in class size between high and low poverty schools.
- Strengthen the language around student data privacy and limit federally mandated data collection of individual students.
- Oppose the diversion of resources to private and charter schools through portability of Title I funds and expansion of federal funding to charters.
Read the entire statement at http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2015/01/npe-statement-on-esea-reauthorization-and-annual-standardized-testing/