NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) is calling on New York State parents to support a boycott of new high-stakes assessments being field-tested in grades three-to- eight between May 23 and June 10. NYSAPE asks parents to contact school district offices requesting that they return the field tests to the New York State Education Department (NYSED). While the field-testing takes less than an hour, it contributes to the climate of high-stakes assessment that drives curriculum in the state.
The New Paltz Board of Education has already rejected field-testing its students. On May 4, it passed a unanimous resolution directing its school superintendent to return the field-testing material to NYSED and to inform it that the tests would not completed by students. In an earlier resolution, the New Paltz school board complained that since neither students nor teachers received performance results from field tests, the tests had no educational benefit. They also charged that "this type of assessment is in violation of Pearson's contract with NYSED which requires that assessments adhere to the American Psychological Association's testing standards which include the test takers right to receive a timely and understandable explanation of test results."
In the next three weeks, over 2,300 New York State schools are scheduled to administer the field tests to a quarter of a million students. Many districts have children participate in the field tests without even informing parents. However, parents can submit an opt-out letter so their children are excused from the tests. In addition, some schools are administering Regent field tests in higher grades. Children can also opt-out of these tests.
According to NYSAPE, since 2012, the New York State Education Department has allowed the Pearson testing company to use the state's children to experiment with test questions for the next year's statewide exams. Pearson does not pay New York State or local districts for this privilege. Not only that, but New York State pays for the cost of the field-testing.
In 2014, NYSUT, the union representing New York State teachers, supported the campaign against participation in field-tests. New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee declared "NYSUT applauds those school districts that have recently opted out of this year's field testing. Just as we support parents' rights to opt their child out of the state tests, we support those districts that are opting out of the field tests. Why should New York state students be unpaid researchers for Pearson?"
Post-It Note: Peter Cunningham, Executive Director of a group called Education Post, reposted on Huffington a blog by Tracy Dell'Angela, managing editor of Education Post. Apparently Cunningham and Dell'Angela did not like my response to a New York Times editorial mocking opt-out parents. Education Post claims the purpose of their organization is to promote "honest and civil conversation." But Dell'Angela's blog accused me of "frothing" and clinging "desperately to the idea that the status quo is working just peachy in American school," which is definitely not very civil or designed to promote conversation. When you go to their website, you quickly realize that Education Post is not about "conversation," but about promoting charter schools, something that is not always clear in their posts. See Mercedes Schneider's blogs that expose the big money and political power behind Education Post. I also invite Cunningham and Dell'Angela to read some of my other recent posts on charter schools, "Do Charter Schools Really Do Better? Let's Look at Los Angeles" and "Success Academy's War Against Children."