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Parent 'Field Trip' to Protest Standardized Tests

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The parents' group, Parent Voices NY, is staging a "field trip" and protest outside of NCS Pearson's New York City headquarters tomorrow. Pearson is one of the largest test-making companies in the nation, and recently came under fire for clumsily adapting a Daniel Pinkwater story into a nonsensical test question. In May, PVNY formed in response to Pearson's "field tests," state mandated tests that have no bearing on children's grades, and has taken a strong stand against high-stakes testing.

The dispute between parents, legislators, and test makers quickly gained national attention, leading New York Education Commissioner to state that "adults need to set a positive tone for students around assessment." Certainly, no one can say that PVNY doesn't have a sense of humor: The event, which runs from 11am-noon, promises giant puppets, a marching band, and hare and pineapple races, and encourages both parents and children to attend.

It is more and more common for states to hire for-profit test-making companies, even as experts question the inherent value of standardized tests, and suggest that hands-on learning is a far better tool for comprehension. Educators have increasingly been forced not only to teach to these tests, but also to include the scores as actual class grades, further robbing teachers of control over their class curricula. While the educators themselves have long protested this trend, as well as questioned the efficacy of standardized tests, their criticisms have been generally ignored.

Perhaps the parents, who presumably form a larger and stronger voting bloc, will fare better in their quest to be heard.