NY Daily News: New York defends standardized tests for students as movement against them builds

By | March 28, 2014

This article was posted in the New York Daily News.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 1:14 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 5:03 PM

Parent organizers protested against New York’s standardized testing in Harlem Thursday, and talked of the stress it caused children and the time it took away from learning. Some others parents in the city agree, as the number of students being opted out of the tests has tripled in some areas. But state officials say the test results are important because they are used to promote students, and evaluate school performance and educators.

More and more parents are opting their children out of taking New York’s standardized tests, call them time-consuming stress inducers.

They are just saying no — to state testing.

The revolt against the education overlords in Albany was gathering steam Thursday as parent organizers at Public School 368 in Harlem said they will not subject their kids to the annual English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams that begin next week.

Kimberly Casteline, whose 8-year-old son attends the school, said the tests are unfair.

“A child can have a bad day, a child can be a bad test taker,” said the Fordham University professor. “Test taking does not equate to learning and that’s where we’re getting these two concepts conflated.”

Casteline and the other refuseniks believe the emphasis on standardized exams takes the joy out of learning and forces teachers to teach to the tests.

“I decided to opt my son out of the test after realizing that he was going to spend six valuable days of the school year taking the test, and even more days preparing for the test,” Casteline said.

Jasmine Batista, who has two sons the school, said the test needlessly stressed out her 10-year-old.

“He was concerned that he would not go on to the next grade,” she said. “He was crying, he had no appetite, he couldn’t sleep. He was so happy when that test was done.”

Now her 8-year-old is feeling the angst.

“My third-grader is now also stressed out because of what he saw his older brother go through,” she said.

Donnie Rotkin, a former public school teacher who is now an academic coach at two elementary schools in northern Manhattan, echoed the worried moms.

“Too many schools spend weeks, months, narrowly focused on preparing kids for these tests,” said Rotkin.

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