UWS Education Leaders Urge Boycott of Standardized Practice Tests

By Emily Frost on June 5, 2014 2:30pm 

 CEC 3 members are advocating for parents to encourage their children to boycott field tests, which they say offer students nothing in terms of educational value. 
CEC 3 members are advocating for parents to encourage their children to boycott field tests, which they say offer students nothing in terms of educational value. 
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Education leaders are calling on parents and teachers to boycott increasingly unpopular standardized tests they say provide no value to students and are merely a boon to a well-resourced testing company. 

From June 2 to 11, local elementary and middle school students will be taking un-scored "field tests" in English Language Arts and math to provide the testing company Pearson with feedback on its exams. But members of Community Education Council 3 said the tests take away from learning and that Pearson should fund its own research outside the classroom. 

"Why are we doing market research with our kids for Pearson?" asked CEC 3 member Noah Gotbaum, who said that parents don't know there aren't any consequences for skipping the tests. "There’s absolutely no benefit to our kids and no penalty [for opting out]."

In Prospect Heights, a group of parents at P.S. 9 also organized a boycott of the field tests, which they said detracted from "learning that broadens their minds and makes them deep thinkers."

Fellow CEC 3 member Theresa Hammonds found it baffling that such a large company couldn't find other ways to gather data regarding its tests. 

"You pull kids into a room and you pay them for their time," she said.

Some members questioned Department of Education Superintendent Ilene Alstchul about the purpose of the tests, given how much time is already devoted to preparation for and taking standardized tests. 

"It’s for research purposes," Altschul said.

The CEC planned to draft a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña demanding the DOE discontinue field testing and for an explanation of the practice. Members are also drafting a resolution encouraging families to opt out of the tests this year and next year.

"New York owns the field test and makes decisions about when and how it is administered. Pearson works with educators and the state to develop the assessments to meet the policy goals of New York," said Pearson's Director of Media Relations Stacy Skelly, in a statement. 

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