Change the Stakes, in affiliation with grassroots education reform groups statewide, urges all New York City schools and the parents of children targeted for field testing to follow the lead of PS 321. Become aware of the field tests and opt out—as a school or individually.
The New York State Education Department (SED) has quietly assigned 774 NYC public schools to try out nearly 900 test questions through June 10.
This arrangement would allow Pearson, a commercial publisher, to take classroom time away from 88,000 students in order to develop the same kind of English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams Pearson has been selling back to SED since 2012. Some might call this stealing.
88,000 children with No. 2 pencils would fill Citi Field twice over.
The end game occurs next April when SED intends to give 1.2 million students another round of ELA and math exams created from these field tests. 440,000 City children are in this population.
But beyond the staggering numbers and the $38 million Pearson’s 5-year test contract has cost New York taxpayers, something fundamental is being trampled on. The field testing has been implemented without giving information to parents in an effective way about the purpose of the tests; what day each school is giving them; the fact that taking them is voluntary;—and certainly without seeking parental consent permitting children to participate.
NYC Schools Chancellor Farina by her inaction is at the center of this Don’t Tell! regime.
Please see PS 321’s principled statement:
Parent activist Lisa Rudley, founding member of the statewide grassroots organization, New York State Allies for Public Education voiced her support for the direct action taken by 321: “We have maintained that parents should opt out of the current testing system—especially the kind that has been fueled by stand-alone field tests given in June. These ‘no-count tests’ perpetuate exams the following April that yield unreliable and invalid results and cannot be the basis for measuring student achievement, evaluating teachers or rating schools.”
Jeanette Deutermann, a widely respected parent leader, who organized Long Island Opt Out and united more than 100 school districts in opposition to testing over kill stands in solidarity with the 321 School Leadership Team’s decision. “We are glad to see the strength of Opt Out growing next door to us, where NYC parents have been kept in the dark about testing until now and intimidated about exercising their right to say ‘No!’ to bad tests and even worse testing policies.”
Brooklyn PS 203’s PTA President Charmaine Dixon will not let her daughter participate in the field tests or the ensuing exams. “All this Common Core testing has taken the joy out of the classroom, turned learning time into mind-numbing drill and test prep drudgery and drained precious resources from our schools at the cost of important subjects and worthwhile activities that are being displaced and devalued.”
Aixa Rodriguez, an outspoken teacher and leader of Bronx Educators for Justice pointedly observed that “The obsession with testing and the misuse of test scores have damaged the golden bond that must exist between teachers and children. Add to that the fact that the NYC DOE has done things behind our backs that reveal utter disrespect for parents and teachers.”
Fred Smith, a retired administrative analyst and test specialist for the NYC public school system, decried “the entire process that keeps everyone on the testing treadmill, protects private interests and precludes better ways of assessing educational outcomes from breaking through. It’s an Orwellian SED-DOE testing world in which inappropriate test material and poor test items are given to 1.2 million children annually in the name of ‘testing rigor.’”
Here are three relevant references:
Smith’s Open Letter to Parents about the stand-alone field tests children are facing:
An updated link to the schools that have been assigned to give the field tests through June 10 and the grades to be tested. Parents should consult this chart to see if their children are targeted:
A sample refusal letter that parents have the right to submit if they do not want their children to participate in Pearson’s field testing exercise.