Herald file photo
Students across Long Island are refusing state tests, protesting against academic standards that they say have become unrealistically challenging.
After attending a panel comprising school administrators, teachers and parents from across Long Island, Ballato discovered that her concerns were shared by others. “It kind of gave me even more power that [the state is] not going to do anything until the parents take a stand,” she said.
Her other son, who is in the district’s advanced learning program, called Quest, decided to refuse the tests after he learned that the teachers are evaluated based on the results, she said. Under the new Annual Professional Performance Review plans, commonly known as APPR, a teacher’s performance will be tied to student test scores for the first time this year.
“It’s about standing up for what you believe is right, and stopping our children from bearing the weight of administrators at the New York State Department of Education dictating how our teachers are going to be evaluated,” Ballato said.
Colette Paul, whose son is a fourth-grader at Barnum Woods, said she noticed a drastic change in him during last year’s state testing. “I saw that my son, who is someone who has an amazing love for learning and always loved school … started having a big change in his attitude toward school,” she said. “He was exhibiting school anxiety, and that’s something I’ve never seen.”
Paul said that the APPR and the more rigorous test standards are detrimental to education. “My main concern is what this is doing to our children,” she said. “It extinguishes their passion for creativity, their love for learning, instead turning them into little stressed-out adults.”
Both women said they had no issues with the East Meadow School District’s educational policies, and Ballato added that she moved to East Meadow because of the school district, and specifically its special-education program. But both expressed their disappointment with the way the district accommodated their children — all three were asked to sit quietly at their desks for the duration of the tests, despite requests to be moved to a separate room or to be allowed to read a book at their desks.
District officials declined to comment.