June 2013 Issue
May 24, 2013

School boards agree: Obsession with testing taking toll

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

Prompted by local unions armed with a NYSUT sample resolution, school boards from districts in every corner of the state have approved resolutions condemning the over-emphasis on standardized testing and the inappropriate high-stakes consequences for students and teachers.

Syracuse is the first of the Big Five city school districts to sign on. Resolutions have also been adopted so far in Averill Park, Baldwinsville, Bath, Bedford, Bethlehem, Blind Brook, Candor, Central Islip, Deer Park, East Greenbush, Geneva, Grand Island, Guilderland, Hamburg, Hastings, Highland Falls, Ichabod Crane, Kenmore, Lyons, Middle Country, Middleburgh, Middletown, New Paltz, Niagara-Wheatfield, Nyack, Port Jefferson Station, Saranac Lake, Saratoga, Sayville, Schoharie, Sherburne-Earlville, South Orangetown, Tonawanda, West Islip and West Seneca.

The West Irondequoit district took the idea a step further, sending the SED commissioner a letter jointly signed by the board president, superintendent, local union president and PTSA leader. The Churchville-Chili BOE also sent a letter to SED.

The board actions are a community-based outgrowth of NYSUT's campaign to raise awareness about how the state's obsession with standardized testing is taking a toll on students and teachers.

NYSUT Representative Assembly delegates in April resoundingly adopted a resolution criticizing SED's rocky implementation of Common Core and demanding this year's test results not be used for high-stakes decisions for students or teachers. For more than two years, NYSUT has been telling SED that it is moving too fast on Common Core and failing to give schools and educators the time and resources they need to implement the new curriculum.

This spring, the union took the issue public with full-page print and online ads calling on parents to push back against the state's over-reliance on standardized testing. So far, more than 10,000 people have signed NYSUT's online petition at www.nysut.org/testing.

In addition, thousands of educators have written "Tell it like it is" letters to the SED commissioner and Regents explaining how the state's actions are narrowing the curriculum and placing tremendous stress on students.

"School boards, parents and members are standing up and saying 'Enough!'" said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira.

On the legislative front, NYSUT is advocating for three bills that would help curb the obsession with testing and protect student privacy. For more, go to www.truthabouttesting.org.