Culture of testing takes a toll on Staten Island pupils and their families

By Deborah Young/Staten Island Advance Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Niko Hardison is an intellectually curious fifth-grader who is reading “The Hunger Games” in his leisure time, and was fascinated by what he learned about the ancient Mayans in social studies.

Up until this year, when new Common Core standards were phased into schools across the city and state, he was a standout student, and loved waking up every morning and going to PS 6 in Tottenville.

But the new way of teaching that’s intended to promote and measure deeper, critical-thinking skills has thrown him off track. His struggles in the classroom come home every night in the form of hours of homework, including the kinds of difficult-to-understand questions that prompted parents to form a support group to help their kids muddle through.

“My son made a comment to me the other day. He asked, ‘Did I become stupid?'” said his father, James Hardison. “We’re supposed to be inspiring students, and giving them what they need to be successful. For a 10-year-old child to feel discouraged like this, something is not right.”

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