Common Core is about churning out students as test takers, not inquisitive students excited about learning. –Congressman Chris Collins, R-NY
Across New York State there’s a movement afoot by parents who’ve found themselves disenfranchised and dismissed. It centers around the State’s insistence on high-stakes testing for children in elementary and middle schools.
Last year, for example, the State wholesale revised the math and English language arts assessments causing a disproportionate number of students across the State essentially to fail the test by not meeting a threshold arbitrarily deemed set the State.
Although the State Education Department couches its decisions in terms of “resetting the bar” and “insisting on rigor,” what it’s done is discouraged children from learning and tacitly threatened educators who must follow the rules. Or else.
What they perhaps didn’t count on were the thousands of parents who’ve now said they’ve had enough. Their children are too important to be experiments at the hands of out-of-touch policy makers.
Those parents, as the ultimate decision-makers in their children’s educations, have refused to allow their children to take the State assessments. State and local school districts are required to comply with parents’ wishes. The districts have flexibility in a particularly troublesome way, however. They can – if they wish – require the children to simply sit and stare during the duration of the tests, which typically are administered over the course of six mornings (or, in grades 4 and 8, over eight!). These aren’t 20-minute tests by the way; they’re usually 90 minutes per day.
What’s particularly disturbing is how much teaching time is devoted to learning how to take the assessments. And, yes, I know the explanation that learning how to be a test-taker, and reinforcing content, can be applied in other circumstances.
But give me a break. I can think of tens if not hundreds of more robust lessons that could be taught during this (wasted) time.
And another thing: these assessments don’t inform instruction. Neither parents nor teachers are provided with the test-taker’s answers which, at least theoretically, might be able to identify particular areas of need. That is, if the assessments were developmentally appropriate in the first place, which they’re not.
Now’s the time to act if you want your child to be free from the burden of taking these useless tests. Send an email to your school principal advising him or her that you’re refusing to allow your child to take the State assessments. Invite your principal to implement an educationally-sound alternative for the children who have refused, such as quietly reading in the school library.
Our children deserve better than those who currently are setting policy at the New York State Education Department. They deserve much better.