After careful consideration, I feel compelled to write this letter regarding the NYS Common Core testing. I am a lifelong Clarkstown
resident and currently have three daughters attending the district schools. I am very involved in each of my children's education and want to be clear that I hold our district's educators in the highest regard. I am proud to have my children attend the CCSD. However, I am very concerned and I will use the word, disgusted, with what our children and educators are being put through. Against my better judgement, I have allowed my children to take the recent tests. I question whether it has been the right choice. I have chosen not to use my children as a means to represent my opinions....however, they are aware of my feelings about these tests.
I have outlined my thoughts. comments and opinions as follows:
** My two elementary age children, like so many others, are experiencing anxiety at the current disruptions and abnormal approaches to learning. I do not appreciate the skill and drill teaching that NYS teachers are being forced into doing in the classroom.....we all know teaching to the test a a failure and everybody loses, especially the children.
**Children should be encouraged to be critical, thoughtful, independent thinkers, not taught to think the way Pearson wants them to.....the test questions seem to be ambiguous and abstract. There are too many questions in which case one could argue a valid point about which of two answers is correct. There was not nearly enough time to finish. Students wind up discouraged, confused, anxious, to name a few.
**I am offended by the state's assumptions and assertions regarding what my children or their school peers really need. These tests are not the magic bullet, not the education system salvation....it is devastating, and seems to ignore what individual students need. These test results cannot possibly tell me or my children's educators what they need...it is a tiny snapshot in time that is severely skewed by many factors.
**As the state claims, will this test really tell me if my reading disabled 4th grade daughter is college ready? On the right path? It's insulting and ridiculous to think so. I, and my daughter's team, know what is best for her...we are all dedicated 100% and it shows in the progress she is making. No state test will tell me that.
**I have questions, such as Have student test scores been found to be a strong predictor of the quality of teaching?
**I have been unable to find any Common Core expectations for reading that are aligned with literacy research.
**There's a healthy child centered role for assessment. Good assessment is transparent....it should be designed to further a student's learning. It will give students the opportunity to show what they know. It helps educators guide instruction and modify curriculum as needed. No test designed by Pearson, is, in my opinion, going to do that.
**When testing becomes the driver of school reform, we see misguided changes that will only do damage....and our children will be the ones to greatly suffer. This has already begun.
**We all deserve well thought out reforms. Reforms that will improve teaching and learning for every student. I don't have these answers. I don't even have suggestions on this right now. But what I do know is that standardized testing is not the magical solution . I am embarrassed for our state and sorry for our students.
**Look into the classrooms....you will find in many that the love of learning is diminishing because of the way our schools are being strong armed to teach to the test. Learning isn't as fun and interesting...it's almost robotic. Teachers and students are miserable. There's no denying it. We all see it. For what? So we can all get a high scoring district and excellent funding and all look wonderful. No, the goal is so off base it scares me. How about ELA Boot Camp in the classroom? Yes, it's in our district. So, now we need to increase student's test taking stamina? Give more homework, so children will magically get a good score? Disgusting. This is heartbreaking.
**Look into our homes. There is excessive homework every night, including breaks and some weekends. It's not well rounded. It's geared specifically towards the ELA and Math tests. What has happened to Science, Spelling and Social Studies? Our last spelling assignment was March 6th. Look into my kitchen....where I sit every night helping my children with their excessive homework. I have an excellent college education and I find myself unable to answer the questions at times. It happened just this evening. Come in, and see my children, see the looks on their faces, see how their behavior changes. You wouldn't like it either. They are all bright, happy children....but their love of school is being chipped away at...and I blame standardized tests and the over the top prep work done for it.
**I am tired of hearing about and dealing with crying, stressed out students . You should have seen the look on my 7th grade Honor Roll student's face last week. It's a look that no parent wants to see as their child leaves for school.....shame on Commissioner King, our Governor, the Pearson group and everyone else involved....shame on you all.
**Teachers are in the business of creating possibilities for all students.....you can’t measure possibility.
Please, if you wish, challenge my views constructively or provide me with some real concrete evidence on how these standardized tests are really going to be truly meaningful. I don't see it, nor do thousands of other parents and educators in our state.