A battle between parents and educators has erupted over standardized testing in the state of New York. These exams have been the norm under the No Child Left Behind Act, but parents, frustrated that schools are using these tests for teacher evaluation - as opposed to the students' academic progress - are launching a boycott and instructing their children to sit out of the exams.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the number of students and parents refusing the standardized tests was a "small but meaningful percentage." Just take a look at a few of the more surprising numbers throughout the upper region:
School District / Number of students refusing exam / 3-8 grade enrollment / Percent of students refusing test
West Seneca 877 3,087 28.41%
Lake Shore 287 1,135 25.29%
Wilson 120 562 21.35%
Springville-Griffith 151 833 18.13%
Alden 136 800 17.00%
Hamburg 269 1,718 15.66%
East Aurora 137 882 15.53%
Downstate is no different. In in Public School 368 in Harlem, Jasmine Batista, who has two sons the school, revealed to the NY Post how the tests negatively affected her 10-year-old:
“He was concerned that he would not go on to the next grade,” she said. “He was crying, he had no appetite, he couldn't sleep. He was so happy when that test was done.”
In addition to stress, parents cited a number of other reasons for telling their kids to reject the tests:
Some are educators who are upset that the exams are being used to measure how teachers and schools perform. Some are concerned that subjects such as social studies and art are being edged out as schools focus on preparing students for math and English exams.
Now, teachers and administrators are facing the challenge of how to deal with parents who are rejecting the standardized system and what to do with children who opt out of these exams. One school district in particular, Starpoint, where 8 percent of students opted out of the English Language Arts exam, decided to add the extra expense of hiring substitute teachers to supervise children in the hall as their peers work at their desks.
Despite the hostility between parents and teachers, New York is standing by the supposed merits of standardized testing:
State Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins defended the testing as “one of many tools that should be used to measure student growth and help inform instruction.”
What do you think? Are these parents in the wrong for telling their children to refuse to take the tests, thus stretching schools' resources by having to hire extra help? Or are they right to challenge state regulations that don't seem to improve their kids' education?
One thing's for sure: Educators are going to get headaches either way.