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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
School News
Educators, parents: less testing, more teaching
Courtesy Syntax
Seventh-graders at Memorial Junior High School will be subject to several days of testing later this year, but school officials and parents are concerned that the testing is taking away from learning.

Testing has always been a part of school. It’s the way educators assess student learning. But last school year, as the State Education Department implemented the new Common Core Learning Standards and rolled out new state assessments to accompany them, teachers, administrators, students and parents said the tests were no longer assessing student learning.

Now, in year two of the Common Core, educators and parents are echoing similar sentiments as New York State Commissioner of Education John King Jr. continues to receive negative feedback across the state.

In a letter sent out to school superintendents on Oct. 24, King said that while testing is important, the Board of Regents discussed a new initiative on Oct. 21 to “keep the focus on teaching in New York State Schools.”

King wrote that the amount of testing “should be the minimum necessary to inform effective decision-making. Test results should be used only as one of multiple measures of progress, and tests should reflect our instructional priorities.”

One of the initiatives deals with testing for eighth grade students, who, under the current system, might take both the Regents Exam in algebra and the Grade 8 mathematics exam. King is seeking a waiver from the U.S. Education Department so that these students only have to take the Regents Exam.

Central High School District Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich said it’s good that this waiver is being done, but it should have happened sooner. “While board members and superintendents have advocated this for years,” Heidenreich said, “it wasn’t until only recently that the commissioner and the Board of Regents began to seriously entertain it.”

Last month, King canceled his remaining public meetings on his tour through the state after backlash from parents and educators during a meeting in upstate Poughkeepsie. He was supposed to appear at Garden City High School on Oct. 15.

Tina Correa, a Valley Stream mother of three who has students at Clear Stream Avenue School and Memorial Junior High School, said although her kids did not “opt-out” of state tests last school year, they likely will this year.

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