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NCLB Outrages

Testing: Has it Gone Too Far?

Ohanian Comment: Dr. Joan K. Lange, associate superintendent of Islip Schools: “On the positive side the new testing will ensure that the the expectations are the same for all New York students.”

So much for expectations. How about resources? Financial, health, and housing resources as well as cognitive. How can expectations be the same for students with very different cognitive abilities?

by Jessica Salz

Summer’s over. The children who spent their summers playing hide-n-seek, football and Marco Polo will be turning in their swimsuits for backpacks and their footballs for pens or pencils.

In a time when parents may finally enjoy some well-deserved relaxation without the kids around, their children, as young as 9 and as old as 18, will be studying for state assessment exams. Parents may not have the break they’re looking for if students incur as much stress as some school officials expect them to.

Students across LI will begin to receive additional testing from grades 3-8. Although the federal “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law was passed in 2001, it states that all children in these grades must be tested by the 2005/2006 academic year, and students in grades 10-12 tested at least once during the academic year. Since all students on LI have started the school year, they will be thinking about the new exams that they, and their teachers, will have to prepare for. Students will be thoroughly tested in math and reading, according to the NCLB law.

The 7th grade English assessment exam will have an extensive grammar section. Additional testing does not seem to be the answer that parents, teachers and school officials are looking for. Teachers are capable of administering more tests if need be, but it doesn’t solve the real problem that the students who truly need help aren’t obtaining it, according to Bob Davis, associate superintendent of Levittown Schools.

The tests are “a waste of time” says Hicksville Middle School Principal, Stephen Aronowitz. He added that the tests take up a great deal of time, which is time being taken away from teaching.

Last week, Aronowitz’s concerned son, who is just beginning the 4th grade, asked him, “Are these tests hard?”

“I believe frequent monitoring of students’ performance is a good idea… but more testing is foolish,” says Davis. He added that the tests are subjective and the amount of time they take to administer is time away from learning.

School officials have similar views about the tests but they do not have a say in whether or not the students will have to take them. “The students will have to get used to it,” says Aronowitz.

Students may handle a great deal of stress at first. “Students, teachers, parents and administrators have increased stress as a result of the new testing system,” says Dr. Joan K. Lange, associate superintendent of Islip Schools. Lange may agree with Aronowitz and Davis, but she seems to be looking on the bright side. The test results will help monitor student progress in achieving goals, she says, adding that the “teachers [in Islip schools] are dedicated and committed individuals who devote extraordinary efforts to helping children reach their potential.”

Chad Colby, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education, is completely behind the testing that has been implemented by NCLB. “Nine-year-old children have shown the most improvement since we began the assessment in 2001,” says Colby. He believes that it’s important to monitor math and reading levels of students, starting with children as young as the 3rd grade level.

Students can fail these tests, even the 3rd and 4th graders. If a student has been assessed as “in need of improvement” the state will suggest tutoring, or even a transfer to another school where the child can receive extra help, according to the NCLB. “On the positive side the new testing will ensure that the the expectations are the same for all New York students,” says Lange.

— Jessica Salz
Long Island Press


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