Press-Republican

Education

April 15, 2013

Parents, board protest 'excessive testing'

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake School Board has asked the state to reduce the amount of standardized testing required.

Board members, parents and some faculty have posed a challenge to high-stakes exams mandated by the State Education Department.

Tests in English language arts, math, science and social studies are given to students in grades 3 to 8 every year.

CRAMMING

Preparation for assessment tests in Saranac Lake impelled a month-long March Math Madness, where students spent much of their day doing only math.

That’s because test questions this year are based on new national Common Core standards without regard for or time to adjust the existing school rubric, according to some concerned parents.

Zoe Smith said the scenario in her child’s school left no room for other classwork besides specials, such as music, library and phys ed.

“They were cramming the kids for a test, doing three units of math in one month so they (the kids) could at least see it before the test.”

GROUP FORMED

Parents decided to take action and, along with some teachers, formed the Saranac Lake Parent Faculty Education Alliance.

“We’re just getting organized,” Smith said.

Parents of about 25 students have sent notice to the school principals to refuse testing, which will require parents to pick the kids up from school and trigger a “tardy” for the morning test sessions, according to information from the parent group’s Facebook page.

MEASUREMENT QUESTIONED

To address overarching concerns, the alliance passed a resolution with nine points, asserting that the mandatory tests are an “unreliable measure of student learning and educator effectiveness.”

The alliance also charges that “overemphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession and undermining school climate.”

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