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Guest viewpoint: state testing

The problems are not limited to the last few years or only the 3-8 tests. Years ago students in high school took Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. Then those classes were changed to Sequential Math 1, 2 and 3 to “raise standards”, “make our students competitive”, and “better prepare them for college.” Then the state changed those courses to Math A and Math B for the same reasons. They recently changed the curriculum to… Algebra, Geometry and Algebra II/ Trigonometry. Now, with the implementation of the Common Core Standards, the State Education Department is changing the tests and the curriculum- again.

In 2003 so many students failed the Math A exam the state changed the grading scale. It has remained the same since then (even though they changed the course back to Algebra) and to this day, if a student gets 30 points out of a possible 87, their score on the Regents exam is a 65. That may sound absurd, but here is where you can review the scoring conversion chart- http://www.nysedregents.org/IntegratedAlgebra/113/ialg12013-cc.pdf.

Another growing movement among parents is to restrict what information schools collect and is being forwarded to the State Education Department due to a fear that it will be given to the Gates Foundation and testing companies. This personal information includes names, grades, test scores, race, ethnicity, disciplinary and attendance records, economic status, disabilities and health conditions. Most parents don’t realize what is being sent to the State Education Department. It has gotten so ridiculous that last year schools were told they eventually will have to report if a female student is pregnant along with the date of conception.

We spend more time testing and collecting, reporting, verifying, certifying and confirming data than ever before. We keep hearing that our students don’t test as well as students from other countries or that we have higher dropout rates. It’s an apples to oranges comparison, and anyone that takes the time to look at the educational systems of these other countries knows that. Constantly changing the curriculum and tests and how they are scored every year is not educational reform.

Standardized testing as part of an overall program has a purpose but an over reliance on tests that are constantly changing and collecting an increasing amount of personal data on students is not raising standards and does nothing to actually change the educational system as a whole. The leadership that pushes testing and data collection wants us to believe that this time- they know what they’re doing. Given recent history, why would we believe them?

Chris Ford, Au Sable Forks

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