Saturday, January 11, 2014

Notes on the Testing Catastrophe in New York State

Policies Which Create Massive Stress in New York Schools
(Notes for a Talk to Southampton Democratic Club)

A.P.P.R- requiring that all teachers in the state must be evaluated with 40 percent of their evaluation coming from student test scores.
Requiring that teachers rated “low performing” two years running must be removed.
Alignment of Tests; many already burdensome (6 days of testing for 3rd graders) to Common Core Standards
Scoring of such tests according to a standard that virtually guaranteed that almost ¾ of students in the state will fail
Closing of schools rated as persistently low performing, and removal of 50 percent of their teaching and administrative staffs
Replacement of closed schools with new schools, with preference given to charter schools

Sharing of student data without parental permission by a company called InBloom.

All of these, other than the scoring of the tests, and the data sharing, were conditions of receiving Race to the Top Money from the Federal government. However the speed with which they were introduced were unique to New York State, the result of the top down manner which they were introduced to the legislature by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the my way or the highway approach to implementation of the New York State Education Department, led by Commissioner John King, and Regents Chair Merryl Ticsch who are now widely despised by teachers and parents in New York state

Symptoms of the Test Catastrophe in New York State
Widespread demoralization  among teachers, leading to many to be treated for depression and anxiety. In Upstate New York there is now a medical condition known as the APPR Flu
Retirement or departure of some of the state’s best veteran teachers who feel they are being micromanaged and forced to commit educational malpractice
Pushing out of creative instruction for test prep as teacher fear for their jobs
Cutting of arts, music, spots and school trips to pay for tests or make sure kids perform well on them
Students starting to hate school because all they do is prepare for tests
And, with the imposition of Common Core Aligned tests
Humiliation, and some would say actual abuse of special needs and ELL students as they are forced to take tests that are developmentally inappropriate for them.
Teachers forced to abandon best practices to teach to a Curriculum that has never been field tested, leaving large groups of students demoralized, confused, and in some cases, totally alienated from school
Declaration of 70 percent of the students as “failing” upwards of 90 percent in high poverty districts.

The Results- An Uprising
The largest parental test revolt in US, history, with more than 10,000 families in the state opting out their Children last April. It should be five times that size this coming April
A massive statewide movement against the Common Core Standards with participants who cross the political spectrum
Demands for the removal of New York State Education Commissioner John King and New York Regents Chair Merryl Tisch

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