Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

Why Change the Stakes?

Susan Notes:

There's a new kid on the block and this is good news. The group is "new"; the members are not. They are longtime advocates of what's right in education, and I'll let them speak for themselves. I'll just say this is the kind of coalition we need: teachers and parents.

You are invited to comment on their website--as well as join the revolution.

by Fred Smith, for Change the Stakes

Change the Stakes is a group of parents and educators who want the best education for all children. We are a work in progress and about progress for the entire New York public school system.

We are a growing group concerned with the harm high-stakes testing is doing to our children and schools. We oppose an overemphasis on tests and misuse of the results for purposes they were never intended to serve. We believe high-stakes testing must be replaced by valid forms of student, teacher, and school assessment.

We are asking parents and community members from districts across the city to join hands to improve teaching and learning opportunities for all children. We believe a good education is the right of every child and a right that every parent should demand. It must never become a matter of luck, lottery or good fortune. And good education is not something that can be measured by a test score.

What is High-Stakes Testing?
We strongly reject the way multiple-choice tests are hurting our children and denying them high-quality teaching in a healthy atmosphere that fosters the full development of their capabilities.

The Department of Education and the State Education Department have made testing a substitute for education. Testing has come to dominate school activity, dimming children̢۪s natural enthusiasm for learning. It has made 8-year olds anxious about what could happen if they don̢۪t do well on the tests.

So much time is spent preparing students to take the annual statewide exams, field tests and an endless number of other tests that history, music, art and gym have been squeezed out of the school day.

Testing has been used to bully teachers, turning them into drill instructors who must follow stifling classroom routines to generate high test scores. It has made teachers fear for their jobs, knowing they will be rated ineffective if their students don̢۪t do well on unreliable exams. It has made them compete against each other in an effort to survive, rather than work cooperatively.

And it has forced principals to intensify pressure to produce good-looking results, no matter what, because they are being threatened with the reorganization or possible closure of their schools if they fail to do so. Where high stakes tests are the rule, it is no surprise that cheating has often followed.

These different forms of punishment inflicted upon the public school system by high-stakes testing have been called accountability. The end result has been to create hundreds and hundreds of elementary and middle schools in which disruption and instability are the norm.
Students, teachers and principals are held accountable, but the low quality of the tests themselves is never accounted for.

Still there is another equally troubling and unacceptable aspect of all the testing. As more and more testing has been piled on every child—parents have been left out of the discussion.
We are offended by the lack of respect shown to parents who have been kept in the dark by the DOE and SED about all the testing that is taking place and we demand immediate and specific answers to basic questions. We are entitled to a complete test inventory—a matter of accountability on the part of the city and state officials responsible for approving, organizing and implementing the various testing programs. . . .

Continue at the Change the Stakes website.

Join the cause.
Ask questions.
Contribute information
Recruit others.

Do this for the kids.

— website
Change the Stakes



This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.