"More teaching, less testing" is the hue and cry of many parents across New York City and New York State, who are organizing against what they consider excessive use of standardized testing in public education, and the time it takes away from learning.
Nine organizations joined forces to boycott the stand-alone field tests taken by middle and elementary school students between June 5 and June 12.
The groups opposed to testing say that parents in 59 schools are "fighting back by refusing to allow their children to take these field tests," according to a press release about the event.
To express their opposition, many parents joined a recent protest at the headquarters of Pearson, the state's for-profit test development contractor. The company has a five-year, $32 million contract with the New York State Education Department.
The Pearson field tests follow April's state-mandated English/Language Arts (ELA) and math exams, tests that were twice as long as those given in previous years—largely because they contained embedded field-test items. Over a two-week period, students in grades 3-8 had to sit for tests 90 minutes a day for six days. Students with special needs had to sit even longer—up to 180 minutes each day.
Blogger Diane Ravitch shares her opinion about testing in "The Pearsonizing of the American Mind," an Education Week "Bridging Differences" blog.
Disclosures about the poor quality of this year's state tests—29 questions have been invalidated so far, including two associated with the infamous "Pineapple and the Hare" passage—have raised questions among parents about the validity of the entire testing enterprise. In his "Living in Dialogue" blog in Education Week, Anthony Cody weighs in with his opinion:"The Pineapple Story Tests Us: Have Test Publishers Become Unquestionable Authorities?"
"Since opting-out of the stand-alone field tests will have no negative consequences for parents or schools (as opposed to April's tests), parents see this boycott as an opportunity to communicate the widespread resentment public school parents feel towards the untrammeled growth of high-stakes standardized testing. This growth will only intensify with the new teacher evaluation law, which promises testing in more subjects and more grades, including kindergarten-2nd grade," the release says.
Organizations supporting this demonstration include: Alliance for Quality Education, Change the Stakes, Class Size Matters, Coalition for Educational Justice, Edu4, Parent Voices New York, Public Education Matters, Restore Education Funding - Nyack/Valley Cottage, and Time Out From Testing.