As I reported in my last blog post, in her March 15, 2016 letter to NYC parents, NYC schools chancellor Carmen Fariña wrote that the NYS (New York State) Common Core math and ELA (English-language arts) tests are “…incredibly important for teachers and schools, who use the results to improve instruction and to provide individual support to all of our students. They are a valuable experience for our students.”
What do you think? Are Pearson’s NYS Common Core tests valuable and important? Please leave a comment on this post (or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org). I will respect your anonymity. I just ask that you include the following information: borough, NYC school district and school level (middle or elementary).
I am soliciting teacher feedback because I strongly disagree with Fariña’s remarks about the value of these tests and feel that it’s important for ALL parents – not just those in Brooklyn’s District 15 or Tribeca – to know the truth about these tests. I applaud the brave teachers at Park Slope’s P.S. 321 and Tribeca’s P.S. 234 who have criticized the tests to parents. Their eloquent testimonials are spot on. Countless teachers bemoan Pearson’s NYS Common Core tests behind closed doors, but due to fear here in NYC, few teachers speak out against them.
As a mandated reporter and educator of English-language learners (ELLs), I refuse to remain quiet. Since 2013, I have had to administer these horrendous Pearson Common Core tests to my students. Each year I tell myself that I will follow the lead of NYC’s Teachers of Conscience by refusing to administer them. But I haven’t yet taken that step. Instead, I have this blog.
The 2016 NYS testing season begins on April 5, 2016. It includes Pearson’s NYS Common Core ELA and math tests (a total of six days), the NYSESLAT for English-language learners, the state science test for 4th graders, Common Core field tests for select grades in select schools, the Chinese Reading Assessment for students in Chinese dual language/bilingual classes and the Spanish (ELE) Reading Assessment for students in Spanish dual language/bilingual classes. This means that out-of-classroom teachers, like myself, will have to suspend their teaching programs (mine is mandated) in order to test students. Our kids who are most in need of support – both academic and emotional – will be deprived of their services during this time. It also means that teachers will feel disingenuous as they encourage students to do their best on non-teacher created tests that insult our intelligence. Pearson’s NYS Common Core tests have been widely discredited for being poorly constructed, developmentally inappropriate, and invalid. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) manipulates cut scores in order to legitimize the false narrative that our schools are failing. Not only are cut scores constantly changing but the NYSED sets them AFTER the tests have been scored. Thus, the NYSED’s claim that 70% of our students are failing is invalid.
It is a truly soul-crushing time of the year for everyone involved, except – perhaps – for Carmen Fariña. Will she be deprived of valuable instructional time to administer and to score meaningless tests? Will she have to watch students, as young as 8-years-old, shut down, cry, throw up, call themselves stupid? Will she go home at the end of a grueling testing day in tears? Will she have to to explain to a scared and confused newcomer ELL why he/she has to take the ELA test after just 12 months in the system followed by the NYSESLAT? Fariña is not in the trenches. We are, and – for the sake of our beloved students – our stories deserve to be told.
NYC teachers – I implore you to use this blog post to share your views about Pearson’s Common Core tests. We will not be silenced or disenfranchised. We want our students to thrive, and to be motivated to make the world a better place. This testing program is a kick to the stomach. Enough is enough.