Editor’s note: We have the permission of the parents and the sixth-grader to reprint this letter that was sent to State Education Commissioner John King. For more on the state’s obsession with testing and to take action, visit www.nysut.org/testing.
April 8, 2013
Dear Commissioner King:
I am Anna Dumas, a sixth-grade student. If you came into my classroom at Chateaugay Central School, you would see a poster of Rosa Parks that I made. On the poster is a portrait of Rosa and a mini-book about her life. Also on the poster is a movie scene of three important parts of her life. Another part of the poster is what I learned from her. I learned to stand up for what I believe in and to never back down. I had a lot of fun doing this poster. This is what school is supposed to be like.
Since third grade, I have taken standardized tests each year. On every New York state test, I have successfully scored a four. I may be a level four, but some of my friends have gotten lower scores. They have become very stressed and nervous. They have changed since we started test prep. They have gone from being happy and glad to be at school to being serious and dreading the state tests. There are fewer fun projects and more boring workbooks and bubble sheets in preparation of the tests. I wouldn’t mind taking the tests if they were based on the information we are learning in our class. Instead, the questions seem like they are trying to trick us, not finding out what we know. That’s not what learning is supposed to be like. We deserve more!
My teacher and many other teachers have said this year’s tests are going to be much harder than any other tests we’ve seen, and they are unsure of how to prepare us. When we hear this, we feel more worried, and feel bad for the teachers who are just going by their guts on how to prepare us.
As Rosa Parks once said, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” I choose to be the role model for my peers. My hope is that more people will get involved in this issue, especially students. If the focus on the tests doesn’t change, kids like me who love school will hate it. Mr. King, please hear the voices of the students. After all, we are the future.