Friday, May 25, 2012

NYSED's field test shenanigans

Today NYC Public School Parents posted a memo from NYSED telling teachers to deceive their students.  NYSED, realizing that high school students are sophisticated enough to see through the fake field tests, told teachers across New York State to say the field test is a "brief test of achievement".  This is the sad state of affairs at the New York State Education Department.

The field tests are not only a waste of time and lost instruction(1.5 to 2 hours if a school has to administer one of the Global Studies essays), but these tests may damage student results on the upcoming Regents Exams.  Teachers are not allowed to discuss or see the questions or answers.  What if students develop a misconception about a question or the essay topic.  The teachers cannot correct or help the student with their lack of understanding.  It is entirely possible that the student may approach the Global Regents Exam, which is a graduation requirement, and apply that same misinterpretation of subject matter when the exam really counts.

Elementary and Middle School students will be taking the ELA and math field tests in early June, time to opt-out again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Opt Out 2012 is NOT over: CHILD LABOR for Pearson and NYSED.

Parents of New York State, so you thought the testing madness is over for our children in grades 3-8.  Not so.  

Students in grades 4 and 8 will be taking their NYS Science Assessments over the next two weeks.  Click here for more information on the science exam.

NYSED with its partner Pearson, will also conducting field testing of ELA and math questions during the week of June 5-12.  Some schools will be taking field tests in science as well.

Surprised? Has your child's school publicized the field test dates as they did with the regular ELA and math testing in April? There is no doubt that after the many long days of testing our children have endured, NYSED and Pearson want to sneak in the field tests without parent awareness.  Many students, who are accustomed to so much testing and test prep, probably would not mention the exam to their parents. NYSED is counting on the lack of public knowledge of more time lost to testing after the many problems that occurred with the recent ELA and math exams.

What is a "field test"?  The field test is used to "try out" future standardized test questions on students throughout New York State to determine if the questions should be used on future exams.  NYSED has used field tests in the past, but the public was told that this year's operational tests(the ELA and math exams our children took in April) included field test questions.  The additional field test questions included in this year's operational tests were a factor in the lengthening of the testing time frame to three days and ninety minutes per day for both the ELA and math exams.  Pearson claimed that the "stand alone" field tests of the past were not a valid measure of the quality of the questions because students realized the field test was a "fake" exam, so many kids did not give the field tests their best efforts. So why are NYSED and Pearson forcing schools to administer more testing when Pearson believes that the field tests are worthless?  Why are our children losing more instruction time to exams, especially testing even Pearson states is invalid?

Important questions:
  • Why does my child have to take another test?
  • Why do Pearson and NYSED contribute to more loss of instruction time? (field tests are 40 minutes, plus set up and collection time)
  • Why does my child's grade level have to take the field test, but others in our school do not?
  • Did NYSED, Pearson or my child's school get my permission to use my child to help produce future tests? 
  • Is my child being used as a source of child labor by completing the field test so Pearson can profit from its contract with NYSED?

What you can do:

  •  Find out if your child's grade level will be taking this June's field test. Each school, public, private or charter will be administering field tests in one or two grade levels.
  • Ask your child's school to not administer this year's field tests.  
  • Tell your child's school that you do not give the school, NYSED or Pearson permission for your child to take the field test. 
  • Have your child opt-out by sitting through the test without answering any questions.  Most kids can handle this for the 40 minute time frame.  They can pass the time by reading the questions, writing a letter on the test booklet to NYSED or Pearson, or just creatively doodle on the test booklet.
  • Spread the word to other parents - power in numbers. Talk, use email or social media to spread the information.
  • Contact the local media.  Media outlets across New York have run many stories on the NYS Assessments this spring, tell them the exams are not over.

No worries:

  • Some parents were understandably worried about harming their child, teacher or school by opting out of the regular operational exams. The field tests have absolutely no bearing on your child's academic progress, teacher's evaluation or school's rating.
  • There are no "make-ups" for students who do not take the test during the one-time only exam period.

More information on the field test boycott:

5/21/2012 MUST READ: excellent information from my friends at Change the Stakes.  Tremendous group fighting against high-stakes testing in the New York City area and beyond.

From the great folks at United Opt Out.

5/23/2012:  WSJ article.   I think Comm King only believes in using tests to assess our kids.
5/23/2012:    NY Times,- field test opt-out
NYSED field test page: scroll down for HS students who will be field testing too(Regents Exams)

Join the boycott!

From English Language Arts and Mathematics Field Tests School Administrator's Manual :

Preparation for Field Testing
Preparation of Students for Field Testing
All students should be properly prepared for taking the field tests. The administration of the field tests should be announced to students before the date that the field tests are scheduled to be administered. All announcements should be made in such a way as to increase the students’ interest in the field tests without causing them to become overly anxious. Having recently completed the April 2012 Grades 3–8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Operational Tests, each student will be familiar with the general types of questions and tools used on the field tests and the procedures that they should follow when recording the answers to the field test questions. For additional instructions, refer to the Teacher’s Directions, which are shipped to schools with the field tests.

I have to laugh at the quote from the above instructions : "increase student's interest in the field tests".  Obviously written by one of the many NYSED or Pearson employees who have never taught a day in their life!