Jennifer Moore, president of the Sherburne-Earlville TA, notes her members got national attention for their stance against high-stakes testing last week.
“I’ve received a number of emails from all across the country, thanking us for what we’ve done and even calling us heroes,” she said. “Some even want to buy our shirts!”
You might recall members wore their maroon local union shirts with the message: “I care more about the people my students become than the scores on the tests that they take.” Others said: “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” They wore those shirts on Tuesday to coincide with State Education Commissioner John King’s visit to the district.
Many of Sherburne-Earlville members are planning to attend tonight’s school board meeting, Moore explained, to ask board members to pass a resolution against the misuse of high-stakes tests. They will be joined by Dr. Mark Stern of Colgate University in speaking against the testing obsession. Prompted by parents and local unions armed with a NYSUT sample resolution, school boards from districts in every corner of the state have entertained action to condemn the over-emphasis on standardized testing and the inappropriate high-stakes consequences. Resolutions were adopted in Saranac Lake, Saratoga Springs, Averill Park, East Greenbush, Guilderland, Schoharie, Middleburgh, New Paltz, Geneva, Lyons, Middle Country, Highland Falls, South Orangetown, Middletown, Bedford, Candor, Niagara-Wheatfield, West Seneca and Tonawanda, to name a few. Here’s a sample of the resolution other boards have passed.
Fourteen SETA members took the time to list their concerns about testing and why they are coming to NYSUT’s June 8 rally in Albany. Here’s a link to short videos and photos.
Also, here are some of their specific concerns:
- More than 53 assessments were given to kindergarten students this year.
- Tests used to be developmentally appropriate. They no longer are.
- The amount of reading needed for the math test was extremely difficult for learning-disabled students.
- The testing format was not at all similar with the samplers provided by the State Education Department.
- The tests are opposite to best practice for teaching and learning.
- No math modules were prepared in advance of the tests for the fourth grade.
- The tests and then the scoring of the tests is taking too much instruction time away from grades 3-8.
- Students and teachers will not get the results of the tests until August. Students will not know what they need to work on over the summer.
- Elementary science teachers have lost 16 weeks of instructional time with their students.
- Emphasis on the tests is taking away opportunities for students in music and the arts.
If that’s not enough, here’s a video explanation of the wide range of issues over testing going on in public education. The video was created by Wendy Gillette, a teaching assistant in the district, and Kathleen Todd, a SETA member and the high school librarian. It’s almost a half-hour long.