In his letter, Mr. Kresse portrays these tests as now being valuable and important to parents, teachers and students because of a few VERY MINOR cosmetic changes that Education Commissioner Elia has made:
- Mr. Kresse cites that “NYS Assessments are no longer tied to teacher and principal evaluations.” This is extremely misleading because the tests are STILL tied to school evaluations, which continues to force a teach-to-the-test culture in schools. He also does not mention that the assessments are only TEMPORARILY disconnected from teacher and principal evaluations as a way to try to trick parents into participation.
- Mr. Kresse cites that “This year’s assessments have been developed by a new organization, with NYS teachers selecting the questions.” What he does not explain is that the new organization, Questar, is using the questions that the old organization, Pearson, developed. He also does not explain that NYS teachers were only allowed to ‘select’ questions from a very small bank of ‘pre-written’ questions. He also does not mention who these teachers are, how they were chosen, and if they received pay. This was also done to try to trick parents into thinking that teachers are developing the assessments.
- Mr. Kresse cites that “The number of questions and predicted time to complete the assessments has been reduced again this year.” The tests are about 10 minutes per day shorter than last year’s test. What he fails to mention is that parents have demanded a reduction from yearly testing in grades 3-8 to ONLY testing once in grade 4 and once in grade 8. The 10 minute reduction is, again, a way to try to trick parents into thinking that meaningful changes have been made, when in fact the real issues have NOT been addressed at all.
- Mr. Kresse cites that “Students will have unlimited time to complete the assessments.” That’s like saying “We are giving you more time to do what you know is bad for you.” Once again, this is a meaningless change to try to trick parents into participating in a program that is harmful to the education of all children.
Then Mr. Kresse goes to tell how important these tests are to inform instruction. Let me remind you, Mr. Kresse, of what parents want their children to learn: collaboration skills, research skills, life skills, debating, reading out loud, public speaking, sociology, three dimensional thinking, respect, critical thinking, self-awareness, historical literature, current literature, planning skills, charity, philosophy, geography, keyboarding, empathy, foreign language, cooking, sewing, woodworking, math, enjoyment of learning, art, morals, trust, theater, intrapersonal skills, relationship management, ethics, self-confidence, music, history, physical education, health, ELA, spatial relations, naturalism, teamwork, work ethics, self-control, freedom, playing, science, creativity, psychology, technology, trust, business, government, and integrity.
How can a test, that only assesses ELA and Math, be used to inform instruction for the entire list above? It cannot, and therefore, the entire culture of school shifts from being centered on the whole child to being centered on ELA and Math test scores. That is why we refuse participation.
And finally, Mr. Kresse goes on to say, “As an International Baccalaureate principal who is formally charged with encouraging students to be ‘responsible risk-takers’ and develop future leaders for our city, I also cannot accept teaching our children to cower from reasonable challenges.” This is a terrible insult to parents and children. We do NOT refuse these tests to avoid a challenge. We refuse these tests because they use our children as political pawns in the employment marketplace to evaluate schools based only on ELA and Math test scores that do not represent what our schools actually do. We refuse because we stand against education malpractice.
Mr. Kresse has no business being in the education field in any way. He discriminates against parents that are rightfully teaching their children to stand against the unrighteous. He uses one-sided bullying tactics to try to scare parents into participating in a harmful system. He disseminates misleading information to try to trick parents into following his misguided agenda. Parents and children that refuse NYS assessments are the leaders of education in the state. These parents and children are the ones who are taking a stand and not blindly following a path that does not have the best interest of children in mind.