In Ms. Mirand’s letter, she tries to convince parents that “these assessments provide us with invaluable data and insight”. She tries to convince parents that some VERY MINOR cosmetic changes are actually “significant changes”. But, what she does not mention is the fact that:
- Parents and teachers still don’t get to see all the questions to know if the tests are valid.
- Parents and teachers don’t even know what exact questions students get right or wrong, making it impossible to meet the individual needs of students.
- These tests are developmentally inappropriate verified by nearly 70% failure rate.
- Test results are generally not received until after the new school year begins, making it impossible to assist students for the start of school.
- Schools and districts are still evaluated based on these test scores thereby still forcing a teach-to-the-test classroom environment
- Focus and priority schools are still determined by these test scores thereby still forcing a teach-to-the-test classroom environment
- Receivership is still based on these test scores thereby still forcing a teach-to-the-test classroom environment
- These NYS tests are only decoupled from teacher evaluations for a short moratorium period and will soon be used again for teacher evaluations
- Teachers are still evaluated based on local tests during the moratorium period thereby still forcing a teach-to-the-test classroom environment
- Curriculum is still implemented in line with NYS tests thereby forcing a teach-to-the-test classroom environment
- These tests are very expensive and take funding away from programs that could truly help student learning
- These tests are still administered every year and have not yet been reduced to administration only once in grade 4 and once in grade 8 as parents have demanded.
The letter attempts to provide value for these assessments by explaining that the district was recently “released” from Focus District status. But at what cost was our district released from Focus District status? Look at what our students have lost by the EXTREME focus on ELA and Math testing. Look at the time that has been lost for science, social studies, recess, health, PE, family time (due to excessive homework). Look at how many students no longer enjoy reading books. Look at how many students no longer even want to come to school. Look at the increase in ADHD and behavior issues. Look at the low morale of both students and teachers. Look at the controversy in the district. Look how many families have left the district because of this. This is NOT something to celebrate. "Focus" status is about politics, not about children. This has been disastrous for our kids.
Ms. Mirand attempts to down-play the opt-out movement by citing that “Last year, the majority of our students in grades 3-8 took the New York State Assessments.” But she fails to mention that, last year, there was a 569% increase in Ken-Ton students who opted-out of NYS tests (article here).
The letter claims that “The effective use of data has become a tenet in guiding our instructional program and decision-making.” In fact, the use of data has been relied on so heavily that it has created an uprising among Ken-Ton parents who are tired of their children's education suffering as a direct result of district curriculum that revolves more around data than children’s lives. Here is a petition that Ken-Ton parents put together to combat the district’s obsession with data over children (click here).
These tests are NOT valuable to students, teachers or parents. Here is a survey of Ken-Ton teachers from 2014. Look at the detailed written responses. It is clear that teachers do not support the current direction that the district has taken. Parents will continue to refuse participation in NYS tests. With the likelihood that opt-out numbers will grow this year, I would like to encourage all Superintendents to view this 'Superintendent Opt-Out Tool Kit' so that students and parents are treated respectfully and in non-misleading fashion. Parents see through the misleading propaganda regarding NYS testing, and these misleading tactics will tarnish reputations of those portraying a false narrative. Please treat students and parents respectfully and truthfully. It is not worth sacrificing the lives of innocent young children just to push the political agenda of those in Albany.
Please email the Ken-Ton School Superintendent and school board. Voices need to be heard. Here are the email addresses: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org