Why You Should Refuse 2016 Tests Right Now

by Opt Out CNY

REASON 1.  Over 200,000 just refused the 2015 ELA tests. 2015 refusals were the first step.  The time for continued action is now.  Let’s be sure that Superintendents, Boards of Education, Regents, Chancellor Tisch, NYS legislators (especially those heavy hearted ones), and Governor Cuomo know that we
refused with conviction and will continue to do so until:

  • There is a dramatic reduction in testing.
  • Student test scores are decoupled from teacher evaluation.
  • Tests are written by NYS teachers, their length and content are aligned with developmentally and pedagogically appropriate practices, and there is full transparency for state tests by allowing them to be made public.
  • There is an independent review of the NYS career and college ready standards to ensure that standards are research based and appropriate.
  • Chancellor Tisch resigns.
  • A public and transparent process for selecting a new NYS Commissioner of Education is established and adhered to.
  • Legislation is passed requiring parental consent to share any identifiable student data beyond local districts.
  • The Cuomo budget legislation is fixed by passing additional legislation decoupling student test scores, and restoring local Board of Education control over teacher evaluations.

REASON 2: Time is of the essence.  Passage of the Education Labor and Family Assistance Bill of 2015 (S.2006-B / A.3006-B) set into motion a tight timeline for the implementation of reforms.  The Regents must make recommendations regarding new reforms by June 30, 2015 and districts must submit plans by September 1, 2015.  Submitted plans must be approved by the NYSED prior to November 15, 2015 in order for districts to receive state aid increases.

Though they are few and far between, details left to local control as part of the Education Labor and Family Assistance Bill of 2015 (S.2006-B / A.3006-B) will be sorted out over the summer months.  As it stands right now, state aid increases will only be available to districts that have submitted & received approval plans to NYSED for approval by November 15th, 2015.  The result?  School leaders will be putting in many hours of hoop jumping this summer unless you tell them not to.

Submit your 2016 refusal letter to let your Superintendent, Board of Education, and local teachers’ union president, and NYS legislators to let them know that you don’t support the Governor’s reforms, that you will refuse the tests, and that you demand the district ignore an unrealistic set of deadlines to put into place a damaging agenda.  Instead, insist that children’s needs be put first instead.  Demand that the Regents utilize all avenues within their power to demand that both the Legislature and the Governor amend the education law and decouple tests scores from principal and teacher evaluations.

REASON 3: Stop the test prep.  With huge numbers of students refusing to participate in NYS grade 3-8 tests why structure our curriculum, or make program decisions, based on the test or centered around the testing schedule?

The summer is a great time for schools to return kids to the center of the classroom since  many curricular adjustments and decisions are made, decisions that will affect your child’s classroom environment.  When parents inform schools, today, of their intent to refuse tests tied to a teacher’s evaluation in the 2015-2016 school year, they demand an end to the narrowly focussed rigid curriculum and test driven decisions in classrooms.  The use of test scores in teacher and principal evaluations will only exacerbate the narrowing of curriculum and test prep in our schools and passage of the Education Labor and Family Assistance Bill of 2015 (S.2006-B / A.3006-B) will further increase stress on young learners. When parents refuse 206 tests now, they give further evidence that they their reason for test refusal is to demand a student-centered, diverse, authentic classroom experience.

REASON 4: Keep the pressure on leaders in Albany, especially your elected officials lest they think the days of irate parents calling for their ouster are behind them.

The mess we find ourselves in is courtesy of NYS legislators, including local Senators Griffo, Seward, and Valesky.  Leading up to the passage of the 2015 budget, parents spent countless hours in conversation with these legislators, sharing personal stories of the devastating effects of the most recent reforms and voicing fierce opposition to the Governor’s proposed 2015 reforms.  On April 1st, constituents were ignored when each of these Senators voted in favor of the Governor’s proposals.  Do these representatives think they can continue on without opposition from the parents they claim to have listened to?  Actions speak louder than words.  Let’s make it clear that they fix this mess by passing veto-proof legislation to overturn the Governor’s reforms, or they will not be re-elected.

And don’t forget Chancellor Tisch, a reformster who makes no effort to hide her disdain for parent advocates.  An “invite only” event to solicit feedback from stakeholders regarding aspects of the 2015 reforms signals that, once again, there is a desire to ignore the parent voice and further the reform agenda.

SUBMIT YOUR REFUSAL LETTER AT YOUR NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING. Send a copy to your local teachers’ association, your NYS legislators, your Regent, and the Governor.   While we may not yet have a seat the upcoming summit in Albany, parents do still have an opportunity to voice concerns and affect change at the local level.  


Find contact information for your legislators here:
NYS Assembly Members
NYS Senators

Find contact information for your Regent here:
List of Regents as of April 2015

Opt Out CNY is a group dedicated to informing the Central New York public about the negative impact that Common Core State Standards, high stakes standardized tests, and data mining are having on children and public education. This group aims to provide information about what parents and citizens can do to stop the wholesale privatization of public education, end the “one size fits all” approach to teaching and learning, and bring more meaning back to our classrooms.

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