Growing number of parents share thoughts on New York State testing

Greg McCrea, Westhill Teacher's Union President, speaks to parents and teachers about state testing

About 50 parents and teachers shared their views about New York State testing at Westhill High School on Monday night.

It was an informative session, and the organizers were excited about the turnout, saying it was quadruple the amount of people compared to their last meeting. Two young Jamesville-Dewitt students, a 6th grader and 3rd grader, were in attendance with their mother. Amelia Gilbert, the sixth grader, took the state tests in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade, but in 6th grade, her parents gave her the choice of whether or not to take the tests.

Gilbert opted out, citing the natural feeling of a child to not want to take a test, but also sensed that the tests would not help her in the long run.

"What stands out is all the time that we've been practicing, we could've used for other valuable learning," Gilbert says.

Gilbert's mother Jessica Sicherman, who also has a 3rd grader in the Jamesville-Dewitt district, said she was proud of her daughter for standing out among her peers.

"She may have been one of the only kids in her grade or in her class to say no to the test," Sicherman says. "I think that takes courage and you have to be a strong enough person to say no to that."

Several parents shared their views, mostly negative, on the Common Core State Standards put in place this year. They said they did not like how their children were having their data 'mined', meaning personal information like disciplinary measures, family status and grades are being kept by New York State.

As for the grades, the parents are concerned about how the teachers are expected to teach to the test, restricting their freedom, without having any real benefit for their child.

"The teacher is getting graded, the score isn't available until August and the child is moving on to the next grade," Harriet Rider, a mother of a child who opted-out of the test in the Syracuse City School district, says. "Where does it come into play where it's going to help the child at all?"

The group plans on having another meeting in the next couple weeks, and say they will continue to write to legislatures to try and get New York State to pull out of the Common Core State Standards agenda. Some also plan on attending a rally in Albany on June 8th.

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