The following was posted on the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association’s Facebook Page. Please consider sharing with your friends.
Over the last couple of years, parents have become increasingly aware of the high stakes associated with State standardized tests administered in 3rd through 8th grade in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Many parents are looking towards their child’s teacher for advice and guidance. First and foremost, it would be inappropriate for any individual teacher to advise you on whether or not to refuse the test for your child. As President of the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association (KPCTA), however, it is my job on behalf of all our teachers to point out the difficulties with these exams.
NYS recently enacted some small changes for this year’s tests. It is our opinion that these changes are a good step in the right direction, but not sufficient enough to remove the concerns surrounding the State tests. Students who sit for the exams will still encounter tests that were made by a test vendor who has no idea who your child is, let alone their individual strengths or weaknesses. The State has said that the tests will be shorter, but as you look closely, in many cases the difference is only a few questions compared to the number in prior years. Students will still be spending many hours over multiple days taking these tests. Additionally, teachers continue to be under pressure to provide “test prep,” as the assessment data from these exams is still reportable to NYS. All of this translates to undue stress on the students and an unnecessary loss of instructional time. The KPCTA is strongly opposed to the usage of high stakes standardized tests to evaluate students and teachers.
If you determine that your child will not take these tests, it is imperative that they refuse the entire “battery” of the ELA, Math, and/or Science tests. If they take a portion of the test on one day and then refuse on the remaining day(s), their test will be scored on the portion of the test they completed, producing a lower than normal score which could have a detrimental effect.
As for the procedure to indicate a test refusal, I encourage you to notify your child’s teacher as soon as possible. The NYS Allies for Public Education (www.nysape.org) along with the Kings Park Advocates for Education (www.kpae.us) both have sample letters posted on their websites available for you to use in indicating a test refusal for your child.
Protecting the educational, social, and emotional wellbeing of all students is what brings individuals into the teaching profession. We will continue to be strong advocates for a safe, appropriate, and healthy learning environment for all of our students. It is our hope that in the future both the Federal and State Education departments leave curriculum and assessment decisions in the hands of the professionals in the field – your teachers!
Christopher Philp, President