Category Archives: Student Privacy

New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), Long Island Opt Out, New York BATs, NYC Opt Out and Stronger Together Join Forces

NYSAPE Action Alert – Time to Refuse All NYS Field Tests

The following action alert was issued by the New York State Allies for Education (NYSAPE).  It does a fine job explaining why parents should refuse any field tests on behalf of your children.  We will continue to update the public as more information is obtained.  If you have not already done so, please submit your refusal letter as soon as possible.

Dear Allies,

We are calling on parents to contact their district TODAY and request that their school districts RETURN the 2016 grade 3-8 stand-alone field tests to the NYS Education Department (NYSED) and at a minimum, parents should complete and submit this refusal letter on behalf of their children. Here’s the list of schools being field tested this year: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/fieldtest/2016fteirev2.xls

Over 2,300 schools have been assigned to administer the stand-alone field tests to a quarter of a million students (250,000) starting this Monday, May 23rd and given any day through June 10th.  In addition, schools are currently administering Regent field tests which you can also refuse.

Since 2013, a growing number parents have refused the field tests for their children, and many districts have returned the boxes of tests unopened so their students wouldn’t have to sit for the extra stand-alone tests. Just recently, the media reported on New Paltz’s Board of Education nysaperejecting the field tests for its students.

What are field tests?

Testing companies often pay subjects to get feedback on experimental test questions. The information they get is used to produce and sell future exams. Since 2012, NYSED has allowed the testing company Pearson to use NYS children FREE OF CHARGE to try out test questions for the following April’s statewide exams.

In fact, your taxpayer money covers the cost of administering these tests. Field tests for grades 3-8 will take up to 50 minutes to administer. For your information, field test questions were also embedded in the April grade 3-8 ELA, math and science state assessments. This, of course, increased the length of the ELA, math and science exams.

Are parents informed about field tests – what they are and when they are administered?

In most cases, no. Many districts administer field tests to students without informing parents. You can call or email your school to find out when the tests are being administered this year.

Are field tests graded?

Field test results have no bearing on your child’s report card grades, teacher evaluations, or school rankings. The testing company and NYSED provide no feedback or information of any educational value to districts. Refusing these tests is a must.

Can we refuse field tests? How?

Of course. If you did not already check off field tests in your state test refusal letter simply send in a letter stating you do not want your child taking ANY field tests. Instruct your child not to take the test if anyone in their schools attempts to administer them.

How are schools selected for field tests?

Each year SED generates a list of districts, schools and specific grades within them that are assigned to administer field tests. Field tests are then shipped to them. This year, districts were asked to participate in computer-based field testing. If your school is on the computer-based field test list, it is because your child’s services have been volunteered for this latest giveaway.

Are districts mandated to administer field tests?

No. Every year dozens of districts send back field tests unopened to protect their students from the excessive and unnecessary additional testing. Last year the Board of Regents sought a regulation that would make field testing MANDATORY. The proposed regulation never came to a vote because sharp public resistance rose against it. It has not come up again.

Please send in your refusal letter for this year’s field tests TODAY and request that your district join the growing list of districts refusing to administer these meaningless assessments.

Thank you for your continued advocacy to save public schools and ensure all children receive a quality public education.

NYS Allies for Public Education

NYSAPE: Obama & Cuomo’s Education Statements Offer NO Testing Relief or Reduction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  October 26, 2015
More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education www.nysape.org
Link to release: http://www.nysape.org/nysape-pr-response-to-obama.html

Obama & Cuomo’s Education Statements Offer NO Testing Relief or Reduction

This weekend President Obama’s administration acknowledged its role and responsibility in the massive expansion of testing in schools, and declared US Department of Education would be part of the solution. The “solution” proposed, is a non-binding recommendation to cap the tests at 2% of instructional time.

Parents of New York are not fooled.  They know the cap recommended by President Obama actually is higher than the 1% cap passed by the New York State Legislature in 2014 – a “cap” already violated by the duration of the New York State tests themselves.

Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to the Obama announcement this weekend declaring, “I agree with President Obama and Secretary Duncan that we must reverse the overemphasis on testing.”

Parents of New York do not agree with a solution that is NO SOLUTION from President Obama, his outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan and replacement, embattled former NY Education Commissioner John King.  Their statement this weekend keeps excessive testing exactly where it is and does NOTHING to reduce the tests that parents have cried out for.

President Obama, Governor Cuomo, and new NYS Commissioner Maryellen Elia continue to advance an agenda aligned with their donors and fail to heed the warnings of parents.  Opt-Outs will continue to be necessary until the following policies are implemented:

  1. Student test scores are decoupled from the professional evaluations of teachers.
  2. The Common Core is replaced with the “lost” New York State Standards that were held up to public scrutiny before Race to the Top’s incentive scheme forced the NY Standards to be abandoned.
  3. Parental Consent is required for data profiling of students to be shared beyond local community school districts.

Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out, “I can already save my own kids from the 2%. It’s the other 98% that revolves around testing that I can’t save them from”. And “after 4 years, the acknowledgement of their policies unintended consequences is little consolation to my children whose entire elementary school careers were defined by testing”.

“If the Obama administration expects parents to find comfort in their latest acknowledgement over excessive high-stakes testing – this certainly isn’t the first – they are sorely mistaken. Their proposed remedies are nothing more than tweaks to a test-and-punish regime that remains fundamentally unchanged. Nothing short of a full stop will satisfy parents because our children only get one shot at a K-12 education. The Bush-Obama-Gates grand experiment with public education needs to end – now,” said Nancy Cauthen, parent of two high school students in NYC.

“At the end of the day, both Governor Cuomo and President Obama continue to ignore an indisputable truth- the use of test scores to evaluate the efficacy of teachers and schools corrupt both teaching and learning. Under our current system, inappropriate assessments end up setting the pace and content of instruction rather than the needs and interests of students.  A cap on time spent on testing does nothing to ameliorate this,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent and special education teacher.

“It is not enough to talk about reducing the presence of testing, laws must be changed and policy revised in order to protect our children from the consequences of the failed test and punish agenda.  In failing to make real change, these leaders have only fueled parents’ desire to push back against reforms and protect their children,” said Jessica McNair, Central NY public school parent, educator and founder of Opt Out CNY.

Katie Zahedi, Dutchess County principal and parent, “This test-based policy distortion could not have occurred in our public schools without collusion between politicians and corporate supporters since the legislature is charged with oversight of public schools. The question is: are our representatives going to take responsibility for the harm to our students and schools along with the waste of public funds that they now acknowledge. If not, are they at least prepared to assure that they will never act with such cavalier arrogance again?”

“The policies of Cuomo and the Obama Administration have ruined the education of my son, a child with disabilities, who has had to endure five years of their failed policies.  They have also ignored the peer reviewed research on what we need to do to make schools better for our neediest children. We have lost a generation of children, due to their ignorance, egos, and failed policies,” Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator and BATS Executive Director.

Get your test refusal letter here: http://www.nysape.org/2015-2016-nys-refusal-letter.html and exercise your power NOW to say no to these harmful policies and take back your kid’s classrooms.

NYSAPE: No Relief in Sight; Parents Will Continue to Opt Out Until Fundamental Changes are Evident

The following is a press release from our friends at NYSAPE.  KPAE is a strong supporter of this organization.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  July 16, 2015
 More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org   

                                     No Relief in Sight; Parents Will Continue to Opt Out Until Fundamental Changes are Evident

The end of the Albany legislative session in June brought no relief for parents of New York seeking to reduce the most excessive testing regime and reverse the most destructive education policies in the nation.

However, parent efforts, while not sufficiently rewarded, nysapehave led to shifting winds of change in the Empire State.  For the first time in recent memory, massive spending by ‘Big Money’ donors were beaten back by the voices of the people and the Assembly, who resoundingly shut down Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional attempt to illegally divert public dollars to fund private schools through his proposed Education Tax Credit based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Similarly, attempts to increase the cap on charter schools by the GOP-led Senate were rejected.

After the close of session, the independent Board of Regents, fired embattled school testing giant Pearson corporation.  That change coupled with several leadership departures at the State Education Department (NYSED) and an exodus of ‘Fellows’ in the privately funded Research Regent Fellows program offered glimpses of light for outraged parents.

Left untouched however, was Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional education mandate to link his politically motivated teacher evaluation system to student test scores, a centerpiece of his ‘Big Money’ donor’s agenda.  A Siena poll this week shows that three out of four New York voters believe Cuomo’s education agenda is not working to help students.  Parents in this supermajority of New Yorkers will not rest until the harmful, inappropriate high-stakes testing linked to teacher evaluations is reversed and real fundamental changes are made to the educational landscape.

The Opt Out movement will continue to grow until parent control of student data privacy is restored, school districts regain local control, and test prep factories are driven from their children’s classrooms forever.

“We have seen the departure of the Commissioner of Education, Deputy Commissioner, numerous SED officials, a data collecting system, inBloom and now Pearson, the infamous testing company.  This in the end does not change the foundational issues with education policies in New York or bring relief to students.  Damaging laws, poorly designed education policies, a bullying governor, and an unresponsive Regents’ majority are the underlying problems.” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

“Parents across New York showed their force by opting out of harmful practices of high-stakes testing to reclaim their children’s classrooms and many were elected their school boards to advocate for their children.  Parents will be showing up in droves to refuse high-stakes tests and deny the data this coming year and casting their ballots in 2016 only for legislators that are truly advocating for our children,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and found of Long Island Opt Out.

“In the end, even the legislature did little to protect our kids. Despite all of their promises, nothing was done to reduce time spent on testing or the secrecy surrounding inappropriate test questions. Legislation enabling teachers to discuss already released test questions is absurd. It is the un-released questions that often hold the most egregious examples of inappropriate content,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, educator, and founding member of NYSAPE.

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters added, “The Education Tax Credit, an unconstitutional backdoor voucher system, was stopped in its tracks despite the ‘big money’ lobbying and relentless efforts of ‘mega donors’.  While the number of charter schools to be added in NYC doubled from 25 to 50, the Senate Republicans made sure that this would not affect their districts.”

“While six Board of Regent members took a bold stance in formulating a plan that would have provided some much needed relief from these harmful policies, they were defeated by the balance of the  board who opted to maintain the status quo,” said Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

NYSAPE, a grassroots organization with over 50 parent and educator groups across that state, are calling on parents to hand in their test refusal letters on the first day of school to reclaim their children’s classrooms and to stop the destruction of our public schools.  Updated 2016 test refusal letter coming soon.

Kings Park Advocates for Education Announce BOE Candidate Endorsements

Dear Kings Park Community,

The Kings Park Advocates for Education (KPAE) Steering Committee is excited to announce our endorsement of Diane Nally and Kevin Johnston for the Kings Park Board of Education.

Diane Nally

Diane Nally – KPAE Endorsed Candidate for Kings Park BOE

We are in an era of an unprecedented power struggle, in which the Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) and the New York State Board of Regents are on one side and local school boards, administrators, teachers and parents are on the other.  New York State has increased unfunded mandates, reduced local control of staffing decisions and instituted a 2% tax cap, all while reducing education funding to bridge state budget gaps.  This has left local districts scrambling to cut budgets and layoff staff which is causing the elimination of important programs and higher class sizes, especially for our most vulnerable children.  To make matters worse, local districts are currently being bullied into meeting unrealistic contract and budget deadlines under fear of losing even more funding.

Kevin-Johnston-2015w

Kevin Johnston – KPAE Endorsed Candidate for Kings Park BOE

This spring, 50% of Kings Park students were opted-out of grade 3-8 state testing by their parents.  Parents have clearly said,“enough is enough!”  We are confident that Diane Nally and Kevin Johnston represent the best candidates to advocate for our children, protect our schools from harmful policies, put education back into the hands of educators, and prevent our tax dollars from being squandered on unproven mandates.   We feel they are the best candidates to ensure an education system that is nurturing and focused on the whole child.

KPAE urges its network of students, parents, and community members to vote and advocate for Diane Nally and Kevin Johnston in the upcoming election.  Together we can begin the process of taking back local control of our schools and fight against the harmful “reforms” being foisted upon our children and our budgets.

Thank you for your anticipated support.

Yours Truly,

 

The Kings Park Advocates for Education Steering Committee
Katy Cardinale, Bill Claps, Debbie Danley, Shala Pascucci

KPAE

NYSAPE: NY Parents Have Spoken, Now It’s Time to Fix Cuomo’s Education Budget Debacle & Establish New Leadership for the Board of Regents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  April 23, 2015
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org

NY Parents Have Spoken, Now It’s Time to Fix Cuomo’s Education Budget Debacle & Establish New Leadership for the Board of Regents

For the past two years, New York State Allies for Public Education has warned elected and appointed officials about serious concerns related to excessive high-stakes state testing based on flawed and experimental learning standards, as well as the collection and sharing of private student data.

This past week, the national attention focused on the parent uprising taking place in New York State. Spurred to action by the refusal of both the Governor and the NYS Education Department’s failure to respond to legitimate concerns, thousands  of parents fought back to protect their children.

At this time, estimates indicate parents of close to 200,000 students this year have refused New York State’s Common Core testing agenda and the final figures are expected to be even higher.

The educational program of the state is in chaos.  Leadership is more important than ever. On Sunday, April 19th the Editorial Board of The Journal News declared, “The stunning success of the test-refusal movement in New York is a vote of no confidence in our state educational leadership” in calling for Chancellor Merryl Tisch to step aside.

New York State Allies for Public Education, a grassroots coalition of over fifty parent and educator advocacy organizations from all corners of the Empire State, stands with the Editorial Board of The Journal News.

Chancellor Tisch must step down. The only way for the Board of Regents, Assembly, and Senate to regain trust of their constituents is to call for the Regents to empower a new leader to fix within its authority, the Cuomo budget legislation fiasco and the misguided Regents Reform Agenda.

“Parents have been left with no choice. We will submit our refusal letters, which is our parental right, on day one of school, next year and every year and if those in power will not listen, we will free our children from a test driven, developmentally inappropriate education,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and Long Island Opt Out founder.

“For the past two years Chancellor Tisch has repeatedly ignored parents at forums throughout the state. She is incapable of leading the state in a new direction because she believes what is happening is just fine and her latest plea for asking for more time is just a distraction from the real issues. Her repeated calls for critics to “calm down” indicates her unwillingness to change course.” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“On Chancellor Tisch’s watch, the work of the State Education Department has been outsourced to a privately funded ‘Regents Fellows’ think tank. It is not surprising that the reforms put forth by this think tank advance the agenda of the wealthy ‘yacht set’ and corporate-linked groups that fund the Regent Fellows: The Robin Hood Foundation, Gates Foundation, and even Chancellor Tisch herself.  When you replace a public service with a private organization that advances corporate agendas, New Yorkers know that is corruption,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent and Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY founder.

“While the Governor has demonstrated blatant disregard for the will of the people by doubling down on the use of high stakes testing, the State Education Department and Chancellor Tisch similarly ignored parent concerns regarding inappropriate test content by forcing children to read passages on last week’s ELA tests that were up to four years above grade level followed by vague and confusing questions,” said Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent, Central NY Opt Out co-founder, and educator.

Fred Smith, testing specialist, NYC public schools retired administrative analyst, and Change the Stakes member said, “Instead of transparency and disclosure of complete and timely test data that would open the quality of the ELA and math exams to independent review, Tisch has ruled over an unaccountable testing program that flies at near-zero visibility–in a fog of flawed field testing procedures, age-inappropriate poorly written items, the covert removal of test questions after they have been scored, arbitrarily drawn cut off scores, and the misapplication of the results to reach unsupportable conclusions about students, teachers, and schools.”

“As seen with the budget debacle earlier this month, New Yorkers know when the ‘Albany Fix’ is in,” Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member. Mihelbergel went on to say, “We know that the opt out movement will ultimately invalidate the data and render these test scores useless. When some schools have opt outs as high as 70%, we know that any claims that opt out is “random” and that only a small sampling of test scores will yield usable data is illogical.”

To ensure clarity for all, NYSAPE calls for the following from the NYS Legislature & Board of Regents and will release a more comprehensive list in the near future:

1. A dramatic reduction of testing in grades 3rd – 8th, along with reasserting New York State’s authority to determine the education of its children by calling on the US Congress to reduce testing requirements and return to grade span testing. As former President Bill Clinton said we don’t need annual testing, “I think doing one [test] in elementary school, one in the end of middle school and one before the end of high school is quite enough if you do it right.”

2. Chancellor Tisch must immediately step down.

3. An independent review of the NYS career and college ready standards to ensure that standards are research based and appropriate. Establish a taskforce including parents, educators, and stakeholders to study the Common Core Learning Standards and make recommendations to adjust and adopt NYS standards.

4. Adhere to a public and transparent process for selecting a new NYS Commissioner of Education.

5. Fix the Cuomo budget legislation debacle by passing legislation that decouples student test scores and restores local board of education control over teacher evaluations.

6. Pass legislation that REQUIRES parental consent to share ANY identifiable student data beyond school district administrators.

We want to restore our classrooms with a well-rounded education and drive testing compliance factory reforms out of our classrooms forever.