Thursday, January 24

Parents boycotting some tests; others ask why give them

Looks like parents at PS 40 and PS 116 in Manhattan are taking the advice of Robert Pondiscio — and the legions of parents who would do the same thing if they could find enough allies — and boycotting some of the testing mandated this year by the DOE. The parents are upset that their kids were selected to take "field tests" to help testmakers devise future exams, in addition to having to take the real state tests in math and ELA and diagnostic tests to generate progress report data.

“I don’t think [the field test is] going to be a strain on any particular child, but it replaces classroom teaching, and it’s a waste of everybody’s time,” a PS 40 parent told the Times. But according to Louise at Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, individual kids are feeling the strain of one test after another. Louise, who says she's sick of testing, wrote yesterday that her 5th-grade daughter became distressed last week that the following day she would have to take "what seemed a sudden standardized math test that her teacher told me had something to do with appraising teacher performance." Louise asks, as did the Manhattan parents boycotting the tests, "Why put a kid through this kind of anxiety?" Perhaps Louise should spearhead a boycott at PS 321. I'm sure she'd have no trouble finding followers.

1 comment:

RPondiscio said...

Thanks for making me feel so influential.

I'm struck by your comment about the "the legions of parents who would do the same thing if they could find enough allies." Many parents have told me exactly that. I'd like to make a suggestion that might solve the impasse--and hopefully mitigate the problem.

Come September, parents at schools that are concerned about instructional time lost to test prep should meet with the building's administration and announce their intention to boycott the test if -- and only if -- more than a minimal amount of time is spent on test prep.

As I've argued, the real damage is not the test, but the time lost to test prep. Thus the threat of a boycott should be used as deterrence. Parents that are less militant on the issue but agree in principle are more likely to agree to a preemptive strike than a walkout, and by the time the test rolls around, frankly, the damage is already done. Instructional time has already been lost.

Schools are(or ought to be) responsive to parents concerns. Pass a petition, get the parents association together on board with the plan. This keeps the issue on the front-burner, and feet to the fire, from Day One. By being proactive, I think the odds of success are much greater.

Robert Pondiscio