Friday, March 22, 2019
As springtime approaches, the PFT and many other teacher unions across the State are once again asking our members to have their own children refuse the NYS ELA and Math exams. This year, the ELA exams are set to occur from April 2nd through April 3rd and the Math exams are going to be given between May 1st and May 2nd. Please make sure to get your opt-out letter into your child's teacher as soon as possible for them to be excluded from the exam, as well as allow your district time to prepare meaningful educational activities for them during the testing period.
Over the past few years, the opt-out movement has been instrumental in changing the political climate of public education "bashing" that began when Governor Cuomo took office. Thanks to the grassroots effort of groups like NYSAPE (www.nysape.org), the state has attempted to reduce the negative impact that these tests have on our children, teachers, and schools districts. Despite all the positive progress that has been achieved, we are still a long way from making public education in NYS the best it can be for our children. Listed below are some points of information for you to consider when deciding whether or not you should have your children refuse the exams:
1. The tests are still way too long. Even though the number of testing days is lower and the number of test questions were slightly reduced, it is still an inappropriate amount of testing for children to sit through.
2. Un-timed tests means that some students will sit for up to 6 hours of testing for 2 days. Although the pressure of having to complete sections within a time limit was equally harmful, NYS should have found a better way to administer these tests based on valid research, instead of randomly switching to un-timed tests without any clue on the possible negative consequences of that decision.
3. Test are still not 100% aligned to the curriculum taught and some questions are not grade-level appropriate.
4. To date, absolutely no NYSUT member has ever vetted any of the questions.
5. Tests are still being erroneously used to label schools as ineffective or failing.
6. There is still no clear answer from the State about the security of student data.
With all this being considered, it is more important than ever that we continue to keep up the pressure on Albany to stop the use of these ill-conceived and detrimental exams. Please see below for an opt-out letter you can use, along with some information from our State union, NYSUT, about refusing the tests in 2019.
Thank you to the entire PFT membership for advocating in favor of the children and teachers on Long Island! In solidarity.