Parents, teachers, unions and government officials all are weighing in on the pros and cons of standardized testing in New York State.
Many parents across New York are wrestling with the question - should they allow their children to take New York's math and English tests, part of the new "Common Core" curriculum for grades three through eight scheduled for this month.
New York State United Teachers has kicked off a petition drive enabling parents to urge New York State to put a stop to the upcoming exams -- NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi says challenges await both students and teachers. Iannuzzi understands that some parents are now questioning the value of the exams.
James Butterworth is the Executive Director of the Capital Area School Development Association. He notes there are several issues intertwined in the current education overhaul, including whether days given over to assessment have taken valuable instruction time away from teachers and kids, and the growth of the testing load as the emphasis has shifted to the "need for data." There is also concern about the increasing rigor of the curiculum and the tests to judge whether or not students have learned it. He sees the pace of implementation as the crux of the problem.
While the nearby state of Pennsylvania does not penalize students for opting out of standardized testing, New York State Education Department officials warn the practice could threaten funding for schools with a test participation rate lower than 95 percent.
Ken Wagner is the Associate Commissioner for Curriculum Assessment and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department. He explains the "Common Core" is designed to ensure when high school students graduate, they are fully prepared for the kinds of jobs they want to get and to gain admittance to the colleges they want to get into.
NYSUT’s Ianuzzi believes education should be about instructing children, not about testing - he concedes "Common Core" and teacher evaluations may remain "hot topics" for years to come.
Advocates who are choosing to "opt-out" of state tests are planning a rally at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 16, the day the tests begin.