New York released its 2014 test scores today. The proportion of students reaching “proficiency” English was flat, and there was a small increase in math. Unfortunately, in both subjects, a large majority of students in grades 3-8 were “not proficient.” As I have pointed out in earlier blogs, the Common Core tests in New York and elsewhere decided to adopt a very high bar for their definition of “proficiency.” It is aligned with the definition of proficiency in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which represents solid academic achievement, NOT “grade level.” There is only one state—Massachusetts–where as many as 50% of students have managed to reach proficiency on the NAEP. With such a high bar, the state knew that most students would be branded as failures, based on a grueling standardized test. With 64-68% of students “failing,” these results are likely to fuel the New York parent revolt against high-stakes testing. What a terrible burden to place on young children.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 14, 2014
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; email@example.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) http://www.nysape.org
Parents and Educators Reject the Tests, the Scores and Corporate Agenda of NYSED & Pearson
Today Commissioner John King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch released the test scores of the state exams in 3-8th grades, showing that, more than 68% of the state’s students were judged not proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and more than 64% not proficient in Math. The overall results were largely flat with little to no change year over year with only small gains and drops for specific demographic groups.
Members of the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator advocacy groups, challenge the quality of the tests, the accuracy of the scores, and the motives of those who have manufactured these results. This past spring, NYSAPE estimated that at least 44,000 students had opted out of the state exams; today the Commissioner admitted that the number was as large as 60,000 compared to 10,000 in 2013.
As the growing problems with New York’s excessive and speculative testing reforms are exposed, parents across the state are outraged and calling for an overhaul at the state education department.
Lisa Rudley, Westchester county public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “Though Commissioner John King assured us that the new Common Core state tests would be a much better reflection of the skills students will need for ‘college and career’ success with the release of 50% of the questions last week, we learned what educators were forbidden by law from telling us: these were flawed tests, riddled with vague questions, inappropriate reading passages and multiple product placements. In its new Pearson contract signed amidst a financial crisis, NYSED doubled annual spending on testing and even worse, eliminated the transparency of the previous McGraw-Hill contract. Where is the management from NYSED and the oversight from the Board of Regents?”
Dr. Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School on Long Island said, “Considering the more than $28 million taxpayer investment in curriculum modules, this paltry increase in scores is one more indication of the ineffectiveness of State Education Department’s reforms, and the inappropriateness of the Common Core tests. Parents should take heart in knowing that the ‘college readiness‘ proficiency scores have no connection with reality. My high school and many other well-resourced high schools in NY have proven records of preparing students for college success that are no way connected to the state’s newest measure of proficiency.”
Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “If the released questions are this bad, you have to wonder how much worse the other half were. I have no confidence in the results released today. Parents now demand new leadership for a Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education who repeatedly fail to adequately respond to their legitimate concerns.”
“Many of the multiple choice questions required up to five steps and compelled 8 year olds to flip back forth between numbered paragraphs. The question becomes more of a measure of attention, memory and test taking skills rather than their deep understanding of a text. The commissioner has stated that education should not be about test prep, but these tricky assessments all but ensure that test prep will continue — to the detriment of real learning,” said Bianca Tanis, an Ulster County public school parent and special education teacher.
Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Opt Out said, “This past spring, 55,000 to 60,000 New York State students were spared from yet another year of test scores that were designed to show a large majority of failures. The number of opt outs will steadily grow until NYSED takes the concerns of parents seriously and makes the necessary changes to our children’s excessive high stakes testing regimen. High stakes testing and the Regents Agenda have hijacked our classrooms, and every day more parents become aware of how they too must protect their children from these harmful policies.”
Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent and educator notes, “Until the NYSED acknowledges that these developmentally inappropriate exams take time away from instruction, cost taxpayers, and set kids up to fail — in an attempt to perpetuate the false narrative of Governor Cuomo’s ‘death penalty’ for schools — parents will continue to refuse to allow their children to participate in these state tests.”
“The test content was not sufficiently disclosed and there was no quality assurance or mechanism for parents or educators to obtain valuable feedback. The bottom line is that students are getting hurt, money is being wasted and precious time is being spent on high stakes testing at the expense of more meaningful instruction. The system surrounding the NYS testing program is dysfunctional to say the least,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.
Fred Smith, a test specialist formerly with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) stated, “The State Education Department took a half-step by releasing 50 percent of the English and math questions from the April 2014 exams. It was a half-step not just because it falls halfway short of full disclosure, but also because SED fails to provide data at its disposal that would enable objective evaluation of the questions, each of which is a brick in the wall of the testing program.”
“Like many other parents, I see how flawed the tests are as a measure of learning, and fear for all those millions of students who are told, unjustly, and at an early age, they aren’t ‘college and career ready’. These tests which ask our children to prove the existence of Big Foot and expose them to numerous and inappropriate product placements are the furthest from rigor one could imagine. I question the motives of the bureaucrats and the testing companies who are forcing these inappropriate exams onto our children – to try to prove to the public that our schools and children are failing, so they can better pursue their privatization agenda and the outsourcing of education into corporate hands,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.