Scarsdale parents can now do more than just complain about the increasing number of state-mandated tests imposed on the district’s school children. This week parents of seventh graders at Scarsdale Middle School have been given a chance to opt their children out of an upcoming state exam and register their discontent with new state requirements for local schools.
Many are up in arms about this particular math test which is a “field test” to allow educational publisher Pearson to test questions for upcoming exams. The results of the exam will not be released, so the sole purpose of the test is to formulate questions for future exams.
In order to boycott the test, parents need to respond to an email they received from the Scarsdale Middle School PTA by June 1. The school will make alternative arrangements for students who choose not to take the test.
The Boycott the Field Test campaign is part of a larger effort by parent organizations across New York State. Two advocacy groups, named Time Out From Testing and Parent Voices NY have organized letter-writing actions within schools across the state to let principals know that parents refuse to permit their children to take the test.
And a large group of principals agree as well. New York Principals, a group that was formed on Long Island, and has expanded state-wide, is pushing back on the Chancellor Merryl Tisch and the Board of Regents to ease up on testing and teacher evaluations based on test results. They recently issued the results of a survey of 8,000 parents on their sentiments about the testing of third through eighth graders which found that testing “prevents children from engaging in meaningful school activities,” and imposes “high levels of stress.”
Excerpts from the survey of parents shows that:
- 87% said time devoted to standardized tests is not a good use of school time.
- 75% reported their child was more anxious in the month preceding the test.
- 70% said increased emphasis on testing has had a negative impact on their children’s schools.
In addition, almost 1,500 principals in the state, or about a third of all NYS principals, has signed a position paper objecting to the newly imposed Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR) for teachers and administrators that will force local districts to rate personnel on a scale of 1 to 100, a number that will be partially derived from how their students perform on standardized tests. The paper was also signed by 5,200 administrators, teachers and parents.
The paper contends that the APPR based on standardized test results will have many negative consequences.
- Principals fear that rating teachers based on test results will “narrow the curriculum” and cause teachers to ”focus more on test preparation and skill and drill teaching.”
- “Struggling students” would be placed in lower-level classes without standardized assessments, and will hesitate to place students in more challenging classes for fear of poor test results.
- The tests will change the dynamics between teachers and students.
- Rather than collaborate, teachers will compete.
If you wish to add your name to the list of the supporters of the NYS Testing Paper, click here:
Scarsdale parents we spoke to had mixed reactions to the email. While some agreed with the boycott and the petition, another mom said, “I was told the test is only 40 minutes so I am not so concerned. If kids opt out of it, yet half are still taking it, they likely won’t be doing anything productive. Also, the more comfortable kids get taking tests the better off they will be when it really counts. The whole testing thing is still a mystery to me as Scarsdale parents don’t want teachers teaching to the test, yet they all go and have them tutored so they can do well on the tests!”
What do you think? Please post your comments below: