Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Even more testing? A call to action for parents.


      Did you know that in New York our children will face more mandated testing than ever before? And this includes all grades.  We have always been informed about the state testing for grades 3-8 in ELA and math, but have our schools informed parents about the other types of tests that state and federal laws are forcing our children's teachers and schools to administer?

A. Our children will now face pre-assessments related to Student Learning Objectives for teacher evaluations.  Read here for more on the pre-assessments which sent some children home in tears.

B. Throughout the year students will be taking tests because of Response to Intervention regulations.  These RTI tests supposedly are used for progress monitoring of our children's academic skills.  Schools use various RTI assessments under the names of AIMSweb, DIBELS or STAR. Ask any teacher who has used these tests and they will tell you that these exams are a waste of time.  The resulting data does not help improve instruction of our children.  Teachers for generations have assessed our children in many different ways in their classrooms.  Teachers do not need a standardized, corporate produced test to see if our children are progressing or struggling.  Teachers already know how to adjust instruction if students need assistance. 

     These progress monitoring tests are administered in several ways, all of which hurt our children and their classrooms academically:

1. Some schools replace the classroom teacher with a substitute for several days throughout the year, sometimes involving consecutive days, to administer one-on-one RTI testing.

2. Some schools have the teacher conduct one-on-one RTI testing while the rest of the students are given busy work.  The problem is that both the teacher and individual student can be distracted from the testing from the large group of students left alone.

3.  Other schools will bring in a testing team of administrators, specialists or AIS teachers to pull students one by one from a class.  This is disruptive and students loose instruction as students are rotated in and out of the classroom.  
The bottom line is these RTI tests cause more academic harm to our children by the test.

C.  FIELD TESTS will be administered in some schools this October or next Spring.  "Fake tests" are given to our children to create "real tests"; both of which are a waste of time.

D.  After all this mandated testing, the state exams still await our children in the spring.  Grades 3-8 will face six days of ELA and math testing.  4th and 8th graders also have a state science exam to take.

Does this sound unbelievable? This mandated testing is a double whammy.  Not only do our children lose valuable instruction time to this testing madness, but the high cost of these programs hurts our kids as well.  Are your children's class sizes significantly higher than previous years?  Have your schools cut or reduced the arts?  Have high schools reduced elective courses?

Your action is needed:
  • Ask your child's school to inform parents about ALL mandated testing via newsletters, calendars and school websites.
  • Speak to your local PTA or school board about these issues.
  • Organize other parents in your community to discuss testing issues.
  • Call, email or write your elected representatives at the state and federal levels.
  • OPT-OUT your child!  My family did.  Our children did not take the AIMSweb tests this week.  Our school has accommodated our request and our children will not take any mandated state or federal testing this year. You can do it too! Save your child's education from the corporate testing machine that is robbing our children of their education.