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A New York Family discusses High Stakes Testing

Parents in New York state are being urged to boycott tests today.

Latest reports say that many are answering the call. The state is bringing in new harder tests this year, aligned to the so-called Common Core Standards, and hours of classroom time have been spent drilling the children for the test.

Many teachers are unhappy with high stakes testing in the US. There has been a concerted campaign, starting in Garfield High School, -4037">Seattle, to boycott the tests, in this case initiated by teachers, but with much support from parents and particularly students. The campaign has spread to many other areas including Portland, Denver, Rhode Island, Colorado and Washington.

News today is that 10% of pupils have been opted out of the tests in some parts of New York State and estimate that if only 6% refuse it will throw the system into chaos.

The Common Core Standards are being promoted by corporate education reformers and sponsored by education experts like the , best known for spilling tonnes of effluent, most recently in Arkansas.

Meanwhile one New York middle school student has written a brilliant and insightful of one of the tests she and her classmates are being asked to sit. In the comprehension exercise she includes a quote from Einstein: ‘Everyone is a genius but, if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.’

Despite the fact that New York teachers have been named and shamed in the media for ‘bad’ test scores and some have lost their jobs as a result, the New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT) (part of the American Federation of Teachers) has its members that: A teacher who, in conversations with students or parents, takes a position on testing contrary to the school district’s educational program may potentially be charged with misconduct or insubordination and could be subject to disciplinary action. As one teacher commented – does this mean that if the state were promoting racially segregated education, a NYSUT member would not be encouraged to speak out against it? And why isn’t the union collectively getting behind the boycott?

The issue of high stakes testing is a prime example of one where parents, teachers and students can make common cause and teaching unions should be taking the lead in this.

Meanwhile the movement against high stakes testing continues to gather strength.