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School Districts Push Back Against 'Field Tests'

It’s testing as usual, in about 4,000 public schools across New York State. Only this time around, from June 2-11, students in grades 3-8 are being “field tested,” a method the state and its contractor Pearson use to work out material for future exams.

Yet there are districts choosing not to administer parts of the field exams. Babylon, Hauppauge and Plainview Old-Bethpage are just some of the Long Island districts not field-testing their students on at least some of the subjects, according to Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University.

Syosset School Superintendent Ron Friedman turned to Facebook on May 30 to explain his position on field tests.

“The tests take away even more instructional time, on top of so much lost time already due to state assessments and prepping for them,” he wrote. 

The push against field tests extends beyond Long Island. 

"We are not the research and development arm of Pearson," Rye Neck Superintendent Peter Mustich told lohud.com.

Still, the state maintains that districts must administer the tests. 

"If a school or a school district doesn't participate in a field test, that school or district shifts its responsibility onto other New York state schools and districts," State Education Department Spokesman Jonathan Burman told lohud.com. 

Yet education advocates like Friedman question the value field tests deliver.

“If last year’s field tests had done what they were supposed to do, one would think this year’s ‘real’ assessments would have been of markedly better quality,” he pointed out.

Noting that some advocates interpret the "laws and regulations to mean that field tests are not mandated or required," and that families could chose to opt out, Friedman noted that if directed by the State Education Department to administer the tests, “I would do so to protect the district.” Ultimately, that's what happened. And after consulting with attorneys, the district went ahead with the tests.

What’s your position on field-testing? Is your district administering these tests? Are your kids taking them? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Janice Acar June 12, 2014 at 08:09 AM
Deborah B - nice presentation of facts. Thank you!
Deborah B. June 12, 2014 at 09:00 AM
@Janice: thank you. As if on cue, here is a recent article from The Times Union, with statements from the heads of two state university systems -- one being SUNY -- saying, on the record, that common core was designed with remedial students at community colleges and, to a lesser extent in state universities, most of whom never graduate, in mind. "The coalition said that about half of all students going to 2-year college and 20 percent going to a 4-year institution need remedial help. Only a small number of these students later graduate." http://www.timesunion.com/news/politics/article/College-presidents-express-support-for-Common-Core-5541620.php Here is a similar article: http://m.timesunion.com/local/article/SUNY-Urgent-need-for-core-5543341.php. And here: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/new-york/2014/06/10/suny-chancellor-touts-new-school-standards/10305041/ Here is the new coalition's "supporter" page. For kicks, take a look at Massachusetts -- the state with the most selective colleges in the country. Do you see Harvard, Brandeis, Amherst, Boston College, BU, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Williams, etc., on that list???? http://higheredforhigherstandards.org/supporters/ So, here you have the head of the SUNY system flat out telling you that common core is about stemming the tide of remediation. This is a "local" acknowledgement that the standards at their essence are meant for those students heading for community colleges, or 4-year-institutions, who need remedial English and/or math. What about everyone else? These statements support what common core critics such as Dr. Sandra Stotsky (who refused to sign off on the ELA standards saying they were substandard), and Dr. James Milgram (who refused to sign off on the math standards citing similar reasons), and others have been saying. Parents really need to understand what the head of the SUNY system (and others in similar positions) are embracing for our grade school level children. It's certainly not a broad-based liberal arts education that is vibrant and rich in the social sciences, earth sciences, or the humanities. And then there's Professor Jason Zimba, a lead writer of the common core math standards, who himself famously acknowledged that the common core math standards would not prepare our children for entrance into the more selective universities and colleges. "In a September 2013, a Hechinger Institute writer reported Zimba acknowledging that students who do not go beyond Common Core’s high school standards could be precluded from attending selective colleges and that these standards are not aligned with expectations at the college level." ftp://math.stanford.edu/pub/papers/milgram/ZimbaMilgramStotskyFinal.pdf Oh... I could go on and on....
Deborah B. June 12, 2014 at 09:03 AM
... and I agree that college is not for everyone. That is yet another reason why almost myopic emphasis on ELA and math (and associated testing) -- to the near exclusion of just about everything else and its drain on financial resources -- is detrimental to our children.
dan June 13, 2014 at 08:57 AM
Re: so what is the real agenda behind cc? Answer " an education economy. United States secretary Duncan when building " race to the top" created it with investors. It was spearheaded by investors not educators . Rather than investing in low income schools with race to the top funds, they sought a return on their investment. With the agenda being creating a economy . The first education economy in history. What we are seeing is a new historical precedent. There are billions to be made in this field of education.
Jane L June 14, 2014 at 08:54 AM
The agenda has little to with increasing educational standards and everything to do with getting our children to conform. To have them learn to do things the same way and not challenge the status quo. It's like the patriot act of learning. It gets them comfortable with submission. Years ago, teachers had to teach to their students modality... Some kids are audio learners, some visual, some tactile. The Core forces teachers to teach one way and forces the kids to regurgitate it the same way with no allowances for thinking outside the box to solve/answer questions. That's just WRONG. Our children are individuals and not robots. I fully support increasing standards. This is not the way. And for those who want to compare us to China and Japan, why? We have enough suicides at NYU. I want well rounded children who aren't expected to be perfect. Please see Matt Kibbe's commentary on Freedomworksforme.org. Thx

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