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State Testing

Voorheesville PTA encourages all parents and community members to educate themselves with respect to testing in our schools.  Below, please find additional information.


National PTA Position Statements

Additional Organizations
Articles & Reports
  1. "The High-Stakes Testing Culture: How We Got Here, How We Get Out" by Cindy Long
  2. "Parents and Educators to Lawmakers: Testing is Not Learning!" by Mary Ellen Flannery
  3. Education Week: Assessment and Testing
  4. "The Experience of Education: the Impacts of High Stakes Testing on School Students and Their Families" by John Polesel et al.
  5. "High-Stakes Testing and Student Achievement: Does Accountability Pressure Increase Student Learning" by Sharon L. Nichols and Gene V. Glass (note: article must be downloaded)
  6. The Impact of High-Stakes Exams on Students and Teachers from NYS Education Department Policy Brief August 2004
  7. "Is the Use of Standardized Tests Improving Education in America?" from ProCon.org 
  8. A Guide to Standardized Testing: the Nature of Assessment from Center for Public Education
  9. "The Testing Culture and the Persistence of High Stakes Testing Reforms" by Michele S. Moses and Michael J. Nanna
  10. The Past, Present and Future of High-Stakes Testing from NPR
  11. High Stakes Testing articles from The Huffington Post

Parent Position Statements
  • March 23, 2015 by Kerry Connolly:
To the Members of the Voorheesville Board of Education,

I am a Mom of three kids in the Voorheesville School District.  My husband and I have one child in 6th grade, one in 3rd grade, and one who will start Kindergarten in the Fall.  I am writing you today to inform you that our children will not be taking the NYS ELA or Math tests this Spring.  We are refusing the tests on behalf of our children.

Although I have an education background, my husband and I are just beginning to pay close attention to the current politics of education.  Our daughter took the NYS standardized tests in 3rd grade, and did fine.  It was only when we tried to interpret the results that we started to become aware of the problems with the test.  We contacted our daughter's teacher (who happened to move up to 4th grade with her) to try to understand some of the areas in which our daughter could improve.  It was then that we learned that very little test information was not available to her teacher.

We started to dig a little deeper, and learned that teachers are not allowed to see the tests, are not given item specific information about the results, and often the results are not available until after the students have moved on to a new teacher or a new building.  So what's the point of tests that don't inform instruction for the teacher or the student?

My husband and I then realized that there was little value to these tests.  But, our daughter is a strong student, so we decided to just go through the motions.  We even told her not to worry about it, the tests don't really matter.  After another round of tests, we heard about APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review), and how teacher performance was tied to the tests.  We also heard about the length, the poor quality of the tests, and how developmentally inappropriate they are.

This information alone was enough to decide to opt out of, or refuse, the tests for our daughter last year.  Notice that I haven't even mentioned Common Core, charter schools, Governor Cuomo, Pearson, political action groups, poverty, Finland, social media monitoring, "sit and stare", or pineapples.  The more you dig the dirtier your fingernails get.

We want our kids to be lifelong learners.  We want them to love school, to lean in to challenges, to be enriched by their education.  We want their amazing Voorheesville teachers to feed their brains with a rich, flexible, and autonomous curriculum, a curriculum developed by educators, not lawyers or politicians.  We want their math homework to reinforce learning, not be an exercise in frustration.  We want them to be exposed to the amazing literature available to them.  We want the spring to be about Blackbird Paradise, the school garden, not test prep.

We encourage Voorheesville parents to become informed about the current plans for education reform, and to consider refusing to have their children take the NYS tests in grades 3-8.  There are a lot of rumors about refusing the tests.  Sixty thousand kids refused the tests statewide last year.  No school has been penalized for refusals to date.  New York State Allies for Public Education (www.nysape.org) is a good place to start getting informed.

We would also encourage the Board of Education to inform parents of their option to refuse testing, allow teachers to speak freely about the tests, and ideally, to refuse to give the NYS ELA and Math Exams.

Sincerely,
Kerry Connolly