Dear Board of Regents – Testing

Dear Members of the Board of Regents,

There is too much testing .

Student Learning Objectives

SLOs, or Student Learning Objectives are taken in the beginning of the year to see “how much they know” to be compared with an SLO at the end of the year to see “what they learned”.   Back in the day, we used to call this GIGO or “garbage in garbage out.”  Have you ever met a middle school or high school student?   Sure, some students will take it seriously, but most won’t.  This is not a totally terrible idea, if it was not tied into VAM, but does not take into account the human factor.

Most of your educational initiatives do not take human behavior into account.

Field Testing

Field testing is where Pearson gets to send potential test questions to select school districts for select subjects for students to take so Pearson can validate the questions.  School districts pay Pearson for these tests that the students to take in the spring.   Would you have a company come into schools and have students make oven mitts so that company could then sell said oven mitts to the school cafeteria? No, that would be unpaid child labor.  Field tests are unpaid child labor so Pearson can sell school districts more tests for profit.

There is very good information in this piece on field testing, that they are not “mandated” yet they are pushed onto school districts regardless.


English Language Arts Assessments

There are also sorts of issues with the ELA assessments.   Product Placement;  poorly worded questions; developmentally inappropriate subject matter, etc.  Many parents breathed a sigh of relief when the NY Times published Liz Phillips opinion piece  but nothing anyone says seems to sway you from your agenda.

Why the secrecy with the tests? NYSED made every state exam publicly available up until 2010 whenPearson took over.   We already have a pretty good idea we are paying for badly written tests for no reason.

Math Assessments

Reports are that the Math tests were easy, almost too easy.  That makes the parents of NYS wonder if the Math tests were purposely easy.  We cannot see the tests, so we can not judge for ourselves.  The data is meaningless without being able to review why each child performed the way they did.

The interesting thing about the ELA and Math assessments is that the students have come to the realization that they do not matter.  Or, if you do not like your teacher, you should purposely do badly.

They are uncoupled from teacher evaluations; we cannot see them;  the students realize that they do not matter and they are an unnecessary financial burden on school districts.

It should be noted that some school districts factor in NYS assessment results in honors or middle school placement.   Student grades and over all performance are better indicators for placement than one test score.


Yes, the graduation rates are up over 3% across all school districts  over the last five years.  Obviously, that is very good.  Here is a prediction.  Next year the graduation rate is going to drop 4% because the students graduating in 2013 are the last group where special needs students were able to substitute RCTs for Regents exams.  I have a theory as to why they are up over all.  The group graduating this year were lucky enough to benefit from the most research on special needs accommodations and have access to Regents Competency Tests.

Governor Cuomo and Assemblyman Nolan have stated that the Common Core implementation, and all the problems, are the Regents’ responsibility.    The parents would like to hear thoughts from the rest of the Board of Regents.

Thank you,

Christine Zirkelbach




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