ALBANY, N.Y. April 3, 2013 - Sending a clear message to the State Education Department, 81 percent of parents say their children have not had enough time to prepare for standardized tests on the state’s new Common Core learning standards; 78 percent believe this year’s tests should not count at all, and 88 percent say they should not be used for high-stakes decisions for students and teachers, a new poll by New York State United Teachers showed today.
In addition, 73 percent of parents say there is "too much" standardized testing, while 80 percent say the state and school districts spend too much time on testing.
NYSUT polled parents to gauge their knowledge and feelings about the new Common Core learning standards and upcoming standardized tests. Many teachers report that students will be tested this month on material that has not yet been taught, with the state still developing lessons and providing guidance to classrooms as late as last month. As a result, state education policymakers acknowledge student test scores are expected to drop by as much as 30 percent, with negative consequences for students and teachers.
While the State Education Department has maintained that information has been flowing from the state and school districts about the Common Core - and this month’s state standardized tests in Math and English Language Arts in grades 3-8 that are based on the new standards - parents are not getting the message, the poll shows.
"Done right, the Common Core has the potential to enrich and expand student learning," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "But the state isn’t doing it right, and students and teachers are going to pay the price. No experienced teacher would test their students on material before it’s been taught, but teachers will be required to do that in just two weeks. Parents - who are already concerned about the stress placed on children by the obsession with standardized tests - have a right to know what’s going on, so they can at least try to reduce their children’s anxiety."
In fact, 55 percent of parents said their child has experienced stress as a result of taking standardized tests. Iannuzzi noted NYSUT’s petition against the state’s obsession with testing - at www.nysut.org/testing - has already collected thousands of signatures.
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said that while teachers embrace accountability and support the potential of the new Common Core, which has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, the state’s uneven roll-out of new standards and new assessments are too much, too soon. New York is one of only a few states testing students on the Common Core this year. Most states begin Common Core testing, as the federal government is recommending, in 2014.
Test scores are used by districts to promote students to the next grade, select students for gifted and talented classes, or to receive remedial services. Student test scores will also count this year for teachers’ evaluations. "It’s vitally important that these tests be an accurate and valid assessment of student learning," Neira said. "Parents clearly understand this."
The union is calling for the state exams to be used for program evaluation this year; not for high-stakes decisions involving students and teachers - and parents agree.
In a poll of 400 parents conducted March 14-20 by Benchmark Polling, the public opinion branch of the 600,000-member union, 88 percent said the new tests should not be used for high-stakes decisions affecting students and teachers. In addition:
- 91 percent of parents say students have not had enough time to work with the Common Core learning standards.
- 87 percent say the State Education Department should provide more time to introduce the new standards before testing students.
- 80 percent agree the over-emphasis on state standardized testing means students are not receiving enough time for music, foreign language and the arts.
NYSUT, the state’s largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.