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NYS PTA holds positions on a variety of issues that affect the education, health and welfare of children and youth. Occasionally, an issue comes to the forefront with an emergent need to either apprise membership of newly acquired information or to encourage members to Take Action in support of or opposition to state or federal regulations, policy or legislation. Alerts will be posted to the NYS PTA site and will often be sent through the NYS PTA electronic advocacy tool, CapWiz to subscribers. 

 

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April 2013

 


Dear PTA Members,

 

Mandates stemming from “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” have resulted in a variety of high stakes student assessments in NY State.  Unfortunately, this has led to an increase in standardized testing in core subjects such as math and English language arts.  The penalty for low performance on these tests (unsatisfactory ratings, removal of funding) has led to a disproportionate focus on test preparation and readiness.

 

In response to federal guidelines, New York State has been developing Common Core, a new pre-k-12 curriculum that creates universal standards for learning and assessment that PTA supports.  While new universal standards may be beneficial to students if implemented in a thoughtful way, after years of development and input from educators, we are concerned that NY State has rushed the process, without giving educators and students the appropriate tools and information with which to prepare.  

 

One of the most alarming aspects of this rushed implementation is that this year’s ELA and Math tests for grades 3-8 will be aligned with the Common Core, despite the lack of complete materials and information. Commissioner John King has warned that test scores could go down as much as 30%.  Despite the outcry from educators, NY State continues to push forward and plans to have next year’s Regents in line with the Common Core.3. In a recent message, Dr. King offered little relief to the already overwhelming upcoming assessments that will be portrayed in the media with significant decreases. 

While Commissioner King tries to reassure us that the tests will not necessarily reflect a decline in student learning or teacher performance, we are very concerned about the inevitable negative feedback that will be caused by these scores which will in truth reflect a state policy that has been implemented too quickly without proper piloting or feedback.  We are also concerned about Common Core's implementation on the heels of APPR, and NYSED's current policy of moving forward quickly on new test heavy reforms without studying the consequences on our students and schools.

 

We are therefore asking parents to embark on a letter-writing campaign about standardized testing.  Please post letters on your PTA sites online, send letters to the editor, send email blasts to all of your friends.  We are very concerned that the rush to implementation of the Common Core as well as the rush to align standardized tests with the new standards will put undue stress on our students, result in unfair labeling of children, schools and educators by the media, and add to already increasing narrowing of the curriculum and overemphasis on test results. Testing for grades 3-8 begins on April 16th, so please send your message soon.

Sincerely,

Tracy Pyper

Westchester East Putnam Region Advocacy Chair