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One Size Does Not Fit All

Publication Date: 2010-08-19

This set of demands comes from Time Out from Testing, a statewide coalition of parent, educator, business, community, and civil rights organizations in New York State committed to a "time-out" from excessive and high stakes exams.

contact: info@timeoutfromtesting.org

The important work they do is informative and inspirational for parents and teachers everywhere.

The testing fiasco in New York City and New York State has at long last focused attention on the disastrous consequences of high-stakes standardized testing on our children and their education. What is required now is a fundamental shift in our thinking about teaching and learning and what our children need to meet the challenges of life in the 21st century. These are our demands:

1. End high-stakes testing policies. Standardized test scores should never be used primarily or alone in determining grade promotion, graduation, school grade, tenure, job loss, teacher or principal bonuses, or school closings.

2. Use multiple measures to determine how a child is doing in school. Multiple measures include: class work, homework, class grades, teacher observations, teacher-developed assessments, school-based assessments, and standardized tests. However, a standardized test (or standardized “assessment”) should not count more than 10% towards a final mark. Also, standardized tests must not be used in kindergarten â€" second-grade classrooms as research shows that such testing is inappropriate for young children.

3. Change the conversation about education. Move it away from testing as reform to education reform that is about real learning and quality assessments. Invest in professional development as the means to richer, more in-depth curricula and assessments in our schools. Our children deserve a real education, not relentless test preparation.

4. Launch an investigation with consequences into the events that led to the current state testing fiasco to find out who was responsible at the highest levels for the decisions to lower the cut scores and use similar test questions year after year. Our children were denied a real education as a result of these decisions â€" there needs to be real accountability for any wrongful acts.

5. Create a watchdog group that will ensure our children are never again subject to this harmful cycle of testing, cut score manipulation and artificial test score gains. For over ten years, the State Education Department has promised “harder” tests. We don’t want “harder” tests â€" we want a quality education for our children and quality assessments that measure meaningful learning.

6. Continue to use the NAEP to monitor the progress of the state and New York City in educating our children. Investigate other ways that sampling techniques could be used to monitor progress.

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