The following is an exchange between a Kings Park parent and Dr. Agruso. The parent has just recently sent a letter to refuse her child from the 3-8 grade testing.
Here is the letter from Dr. Agruso….
March 31, 2014
In response to the requests we received for students who refused to take the New York State Assessments, we would like to provide the following information to you.
There are multiple effects of students’ refusal to take the assessments that may impact our own assessment of current academic performance. By taking the assessments, our school district will acquire additional information concerning your child and academic performance related to the common core standards. We will not allow results of the assessments to be utilized in any way that can be harmful to students’ placement, advancement or retention. However, there are impacts on the school district, teacher and principal if a significant number of students refuse to take the assessments. Schools such as ours that have remained in good standing will not receive this designation if 95% of students do not participate in the assessments. It is also possible for the school district to lose some funding in future years. The teacher and principal evaluation scores will be impacted by the number of students not tested.
We clearly recognize the upset and anxieties that students are feeling concerning the impending assessments, and we asked our teachers and staff to encourage students to do their best and not put any additional pressure on them. Everyone has worked diligently to incorporate the academic shifts in our own instruction along with good teaching that has prepared students for these assessments. The results will allow the school district to make additional curriculum adjustments based on students’ performance.
We hope all of these facts provide clarity and balance in deciding as to whether or not your child will be participating in the assessments. If you have any additional questions or concerns or require additional information, please contact the building principal of your child’s school.
Susan A. Agruso, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Here is the reply from the parent…
Dear Dr. Agruso,
I appreciate the difficult position you are in. I do believe that you want to do what is best for our students while following the rules that the state has handed down. However, I respectfully disagree that these assessments provide meaningful information that can help my children learn. I did not come to this decision lightly. If the tests were one day and scored immediately, I would let them participate. I feel that the length of the exams has grown to be a burden for our children. I am not afraid that my children will not do well. In fact, Robert scored quite well last year, higher than most general education students. Since both of my children are in special education classes they are already receiving support services and, in my opinion, receiving a wonderful education. They are both lucky to have excellent teachers. I am not concerned about the outcome of the tests. My concern is the amount of time the tests and the extensive test preparation takes away from valuable instruction time. Learning used to be fun.
Since the scores are not received until the fall, the current teacher cannot possibly make adjustments this year that will help my child. Next fall, this year’s teacher will most likely not follow up to see how this year’s students did and I would be very surprised if the old or new teacher took the time to see the written response parts of the exam that the school retains. In addition, as the state adjusts the bar, higher or lower, it makes the scores of 1, 2, 3, or 4 mean even less.
And in response to the funding that our school could possibly lose in future years, I do understand your concern and appreciate it. As the superintendent, part of your job is to oversee the budget. But I am a parent. My first and only concern is my children. My understanding is that our district received approximately $125K in Title I funding last year. I am a tax payer in this district. And if that is all it costs to get the state out of our district, I would welcome it. Out of 6000 households, that is $20 per household. My children’s physical and emotional health is on the line. It is very sad to me, that the well –being of our children comes down to funding. And we are not in any danger of losing this funding until after the 2014/2015 school year.
Thank you again for your letter. I still stand by my decision to not allow my children, xxx and xxx, to participate in NYS assessments this year. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me any time.