Educators, parents: less testing, more teaching
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“I am not against the state tests,” she said. “I’m against the new test under the Common Core guidelines and I’m against schools now focusing on teaching for the test. Where is the creativity now?”
Lisa Burke said that her oldest of three children, two of which attend Wheeler Avenue School, opted out of the math assessments last year.
“There is entirely too much testing and these tests begin way too young,” Burke said. “Kids are being subjected to a stressful, grueling prep that starts the day they walk into school.
“Teachers freely admit that they are ‘teaching to the test’ which leaves very little room for actually learning the real world skills that are needed to succeed in life,” she added. “These tests are hurting our children.”
Heidenreich said the Common Core was implemented too fast last year. “Part of me says, ‘What was the rush?’” he said. “If you’re going to change the curriculum, and the Common Core is a K-12, phase it in.”
In his letter, King also highlighted ways to offer smarter testing that includes allowing “students with severe disabilities who are not eligible for the alternate tests to be tested based on instructional level rather than chronological age.”
Moreover, King highlighted, the State Education Department, using Race to the Top funding, will offer grants to local school districts. “Grant recipients would commit to review all local assessment practices to ensure that all local tests help inform instruction and improve student learning,” King wrote.
Many parents and educators said students were tested on information they were never taught last year, which is one of the reasons why the results decreased so drastically. Passing rates in Valley Stream’s four school districts were mostly in the 30 and 40 percent range, far below the 70, 80 and even 90 percent passing rates the districts boasted for years.
“The State Education Department rolled out Common Core curriculum modules as the school year was progressing,” Heidenreich said, “and then tested students on the Common Core standards without students and teachers having had the benefit of being appropriately trained or taught with the Common Core.”