Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why I Continue to Boycott NY State ELA and Math Tests by Amy Gropp Forbes

OPT OUT 2018
My reasons to keep boycotting NYS ELA and Math tests:
1. These tests are used to label children, teachers and schools as failures. This happens most in high poverty communities and in communities of color. This promotes racism, contributes to segregation, and sets up a tiered system where children from different backgrounds are given different and very unequal educational opportunities.
2. The law requiring teachers to be evaluated by test scores is still on the books in NY state, even though it is no longer required by the federal ESSA law (the current moratorium in NYS will expire in 2019). As long as this is the case test prep will dominate in lower performing schools robbing children of a well rounded and enriching curriculum.
3. Our schools are not being fully funded. The money being spent on testing would be better spent reducing class sizes and providing schools with culturally responsive curriculum, school libraries, arts, etc.
4. The tests (as well as the year-round education that the high stakes promote) are developmentally inappropriate,  disproportionately affecting English Language Learners and children with disabilities. Only 5% of ELLs and 9% of students with disabilities were deemed proficient on the 2017 ELA.
5. The stakes attached to these tests have had dire consequences on early childhood education as well -- the push to do reading and math in kindergarten (to "prepare" kids) is not supported by research and has virtually eliminated developmentally appropriate play-based learning in many schools.
6. The tests themselves are incredibly poor quality -- much has been written about this but nothing has changed.
7. Computer testing will soon replace paper tests. This means even more data mining. It will also shift classrooms away from project-based hands-on learning and towards digital learning platforms.
8. Even though the vast majority of high school students are passing high school Regents exams and graduation rates are on the rise, only about 40 percent of grade 3-8 students are proficient on the tests. You can also see massive fluctuations in NYS test scores when you compare them to the steady performance levels on the NAEP test. These tests are clearly not measuring student performance and proficiency levels accurately.
9. High-stakes testing is the mechanism for privatizing education. Corporate interests are driving test-based accountability. Millions of dollars have been spent lobbying for these tests. We need education policy to put the interests of children first.
10. Opt Out is responsible for the minor changes made to date -- most importantly reducing the time spent on the ELA and Math tests from 3 days each to 2.

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