The state of New York has a complex system of standardized tests that are required of all students in grades 3-12, with the exception of those attending either a public school with a special exemption waiver or a private school. The results from these standardized tests are used to measure individual student achievement, determine grade retention and high school graduation, rate individual schools, compare school districts on a statewide report card, and evaluate teachers and principals despite flaws in the validity and reliability of these tests.
We, the undersigned parents/guardians, educators, and residents of New York State are concerned about the ever-increasing over-reliance on results from standardized tests to measure student learning. We believe the state of New York is moving in the wrong direction on this issue and needs to responsibly assess the limitations of relying on these tests for so many critically important decisions that warrant the use of a more robust set of indicators of student learning and school and district progress. The state also needs to examine the opportunity costs of high-stakes testing. In many schools, preparation for high-stakes testing has come to dominate curriculum and instruction, to the exclusion of more-comprehensive, rigorous, and substantive education.
We demand that New York develop a process by which parents/guardians concerned about the impacts of testing on student learning can voluntarily opt their children out of standardized testing. There are a number of other large states, including California and Pennsylvania, with clear policies and procedures in place that allow parents to request that children not participate in standardized testing.
We demand that the state begin by immediately developing and implementing a non-punitive opt-out process for parents of elementary school children, as there is a large body of research questioning the validity of test results for younger children. Students at all grade levels are negatively affected by high-stakes testing, but such testing is particularly detrimental to the mental and physical health of young children, as the stress placed on children and families at an early age can interfere with the formation of a positive relationship with school and inhibit learning. We further demand that all plans to expand testing to include younger children, from pre-kindergarten through second grade, be halted until a comprehensive examination of the potential impact of such tests is conducted and presented to the public.