School boards across the state are passing resolutions asking the State Education Department to ease its reliance on standardized test scores in making decisions ranging from student placement to school accountability status to teacher evaluations.
The West Irondequoit school board in Monroe County went a step further. Click here for the full letter signed by the school board, superintendent of schools, the teachers association and the parent teacher student association.
“Together we collaborated on that letter of our shared beliefs about the overreliance and misuse of testing,” said Scott Steinberg, president of the West Irondequoit Teachers Association.
By our count, nearly 40 school boards have taken action to urge the state to reexamine its testing obsession (see list below). Most are also taking action at the federal level, calling on Congress and the U.S. Department of Education to reduce its testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.
The Syracuse school board has not adopted a resolution yet because they are concerned they will lose funds, according to this article. (UPDATE The Syracuse Teachers Association tells me the board did adopt a resolution that:
- school districts must be adequately funded to fully implement all of the necessary components of the Regents Reform Agenda and state funding has not been adequate to fund this Agenda and is diminishing already scarce resources in the Syracuse City School District. In fact, state funding has also been inadequate to fund other programs designed to prepare engaged citizens, creative and critical thinkers and life-long learners ready for college and careers;
- the frequency and quantity of assessments are reviewed to ensure appropriate number, duration and use;
- we call upon the Commissioner of Education, the NYS Board of Regents and federal policymakers to ensure that there is not an over-reliance on standardized testing and to support the role of and focus on multiple measures of student learning and school quality in accountability systems; and
- the Board of Education encourages the Syracuse community to call on state and federal representatives to continuously review the methods for evaluating teachers and principals to ensure a fair and equitable system that benefits students and supports teachers and principals.
The possibility of losing funds was discussed in the Sherburne-Earlville school board meeting this week as well. Here’s a link to what you can read without a subscription to the Evening Sun. The complete press account included board members asking Colgate professor Mark Stern about any negative repercussions and his “severe doubts” that state or federal governments could withhold funds from districts who take this symbolic stance.
It is hard to keep up with all the districts that have passed resolutions or sent letters. Here’s the list of the districts we know about. If we missed yours, please just let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 342-9810 ext. 6283. You can also gives us a heads up in the comments section below.
- Averill Park, Bethlehem, East Greenbush, Guilderland, Middleburgh, Saratoga City, Schoharie in the Capital District
- Ichabod Crane, Kingston, New Paltz, Onteora and Rondout Valley in the Mid-Hudson Valley
- Saranac Lake in the North Country
- Geneva, Lyons and Marion in the Rochester region. The Churchville-Chili school district also approved a letter like West Irondequoit but I can’t find electronic copies to share.
- Bath and Candor in the Southern Tier
- Central Islip, Comsewogue, Deer Park, Middle Country, Sayville and West Islip on Long Island
- Baldwinsville and Sherburne-Earlville in Central New York
- Bedford, Hastings, Highland Falls, Middletown, Nyack, and South Orangetown in the lower Hudson Valley
- Hamburg, Grand Island, Kenmore, Niagara-Wheatfield, Kenmore, Tonawanda and West Seneca in Western New York