Below, please find an open letter to community members from the president of the Hastings Teachers Association.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Unfortunately, this letter will be similar to past letters because there have been no substantial changes to either the standards or the accompanying state tests. What is more unfortunate and disappointing is that New York State Education Commissioner Elia continues to be willing to spread misleading information about the 3-8 state tests. Additionally, Commissioner Elia has lied to parents all over New York state about the harmful and abusive nature of these tests by omitting important data points about the bench marking of these tests. See NYSUT's response the Commissioner Elia' letter to educators - click here.
Three years ago, the State Education Department had promised a number of changes to the 3-8 Math & ELA tests. The changes that were made are mere window dressing. These changes range from decreased testing time, a change in test company to Questar, and the possibility of having teacher-created questions. The root of the problem with the state tests is the scores set to create the standard for the College and Career Readiness Benchmarks (to learn more about the benchmarks, read this article by Mike Lillis, President of the Lakeland Federation of Teachers). This result is that 30% of New York's 3-8 students being mislabeled as NOT college and career ready. In fact, this population of students are projected to be qualified to attend colleges and universities. As long as the benchmarks are set at an inappropriate level, our students will continue to be used in a political game to create a narrative of failing public schools. Continued failure by New York’s State Education Department and Albany’s lawmakers to rectify flawed and harmful educational policy leaves us with few choices.
The Executive Board of the Hastings Teachers Association continues our commitment to oppose the current testing regimen being implemented in New York State. Furthermore, we have recommended that our members support the call from the New York State United Teachers and “refuse” the 3-8 State Tests for their own children.
The Hastings Teachers Association strongly supports a parent's right to "refuse" the state standardized tests if the parent believes state testing is inappropriate and may be harmful to his or her child. Additionally, students should not be subject to any type of “sit and stare” policy that requires them to sit in a test room for the duration of the tests. We oppose any such policy.
While the New York State Education Department’s continued overreliance on state tests creates unfortunate consequences for our students, teachers and schools, please know that we value your children as more than a test score. Visit www.nysape.org to get a sample refusal letter for the 3-8 ELA and Math tests.
Nate Morgan, President - Hastings Teachers Association