Wednesday: Opt-Out Hearing at City Council

On Wednesday, November 19th, several caucus members will be participating in the Opt-Out hearing at City Council. Below is the testimony from a few of them.

Please show your support for their work by attending the event at City Hall at 3PM -- Room 400 Council Chambers. Teachers are encouraged to come after work, as the testimony is expected to go until 5PM. You can RSVP on their Facebook Event Page.

Parent Alison McDowell:

I resent the significant quantities of time and money that are being spent on standardized testing. These tests are impeding our teachers’ ability to instruct our students.  Our children are not standardized, and heaven knows the resources we put into public schools do not meet any standard of equity across districts. I trust my child’s teachers. I do not trust Pearson, nor do I trust billionaires like Bill Gates seeking to implement Common Core and its associated testing regimen.  Education should be joyful. It should celebrate the talents of our children and lift them up. We should not try to force children into the same mold. It hurts them, and in the long run it hurts our society.

Even though my child tests well, I can see that this system is broken. Her father and I will not have her scores used as a weapon against children who are more vulnerable than she-those who do not have her advantages. We are refusing the PSSAs for her this year and by doing so we will give her several weeks of time to pursue an independent research project of her choosing. By refusing, we are making a statement that we recognize this corrupt system pits child against child; school against school; and teacher against teacher.  Put simply, toxic testing is not a productive use of our limited educational resources.


District Teacher Amy Roat:

Every winter, ESOL students across the country are subjected to taking the ACCESS Test, created by the WIDA Consortium.  This company does not release data about the tests reliability or validity. WIDA does not permit outside psychometricians, from a university, for example, to examine the test questions or  the actual student results. Yet, WIDA hails itself as the gold standard for measuring what English Language Learners know and can produce.

For over 100 years, it has been a scientific standard that for a theory to be proven accurate or true, it must be able to be replicated by other scientists. Private companies, under the guise of corporate  proprietary knowledge, refuse to release the data or let experts analyze their data. It is defies logic that  we would judge students, teachers, schools and districts based on dubious tests.

Parent and District Teacher Beth Menasion:

The PSSA’s in high school have been replaced with the Keystone exams, which are now a graduation requirement starting with the class of 2017.  Last Spring, I watched a student on the autistic spectrum sit and struggle with one module of his Biology Keystone for (I kid you not!) 8 hours straight.  He wanted so badly to do well.   While he agonized over every answer, he would not admit defeat.  The rules of the assessment forbid me from taking the test from a student in situations like these.  He sat through his lunch, struggling with this test because he knew that if he didn’t pass, he would have to take it again.  

I also have a student with a math based learning disability who works extremely hard in math, but did not pass the Algebra Keystone last year.  Disappointed in herself, she wanted to see the test and find out which problems she got wrong so that she knows what she must work on for next time.  Sadly, students and teachers are prohibited from seeing the exact results of each item on these tests.  The rules also say that in the testing rooms and hallways, walls must be devoid of all words and pictures, meaning that teachers must either take down or cover up any student work that is displayed as well as any artwork or even inspirational quotes.  Due to the frequency of standardized testing, many teachers on our testing floor no longer see the point of displaying anything anymore.   Blank walls.