90% of families at Castlebridge Elementary School in Washington Heights have opted out of K-2 exams imposed by the new eval system. Because the school does not have a third grade the state has mandated that students take a “performance assessment” in order to determine growth scores for teachers. The bubble test, produced by private contractor “Discovery Education,” would have been given only in English to a dual language population.
“I was irate. I was very angry,” Vera Moore, mother of second-grader Yvene Mackey, 7, and kindergartner Zalyair Mackey, 5. told the Daily News, “This school teaches to the child not to the test.”
Below we republish a letter by parent Don Lash expressing his frustration to elected officials about the situation:
Dear Assemblymember Nolan and Senator Flanagan:
I am contacting you because I am the parent of a first grade student who is expected to take a multiple choice standardized test as a result of a policy directive from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) that students from Kindergarten to 2nd grade be tested using an exam mandated by NYSED. The test is not intended to reveal any information that would be used to improve instruction to my child, but would be used solely to evaluate her teachers.
Having seen some of the sample testing material published in news accounts, which was developed by a for-profit testing conglomerate, I don’t believe the test has any validity in assessing the quality of her instruction or the level of her mastery of the curriculum. Moreover, I deeply resent the intrusion on her learning time that would be required to master test-taking skills that would serve no purpose beyond the test.
Finally, my child is in a dual language program, with some students acquiring English as a second langauge and others acquiring Spanish as a second langauge. The test was developed and normed in English, so it would be worse than useless in evaluating the performance of my child’s teachers. I have exercised my right to opt out of this pointless testing, but I am nevertheless concerned that if my child’s
teachers and the administrators of the school are forced to administer a test with no educational value, her instruction time will be reduced whether she takes the test or not.
As a taxpayer, I object to the diversion of funds into Pearson and other test developers’ coffers, and the waste of the time of teachers and other school personnel, time that could be dedicated to teaching and learning.
I am requesting that as chairs of the Assembly and Senate Education Committees, with oversight responsibility for NYSED, you demand that Commissioner King reverse this ill-considered and poorly implemented policy.