Sunday, December 21, 2014

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The Call Blog: Dozens Of Principals Lead Standardized Test Protests

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You rarely see one principal protesting outside a school. I've certainly never seen forty. Change is happening. The State Education Department can only hide for so long. These tests will be made public next year. Educators will leak the information if they aren't.

In a rare sign of unified opposition, dozens of principals in Manhattan held rallies outside their schools today against the State's standardized tests. The protests started last week in Brooklyn, after the State issued a three-day English Language Arts exam based on the new Common Core learning standards.

The principals argued the tests were poorly designed and confusing. In addition, they want the State Education Department to release the questions so students in third through eighth grades can see which ones they got right and wrong. Entire tests were made public before the Common Core debuted last year.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina has said she plans to evaluate students on more than standardized tests moving forward. Tomorrow, she will deliver a speech to mark her first 100 days at the helm of the Department of Education. What should she focus on?

Are you surprised to see almost 40 principals speaking out against the new State tests in a coordinated effort? Will the rising tide of protest lead to change? If you took or administered the exam, what made it "poorly designed and confusing?" What do you hope Chancellor Farina accomplishes in her first year?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

The common core standards were basically put in effect so that there is national standards across the country. We would have students that graduated at the top of their class in their high school would go to college in another state and would have to take remedial classes because they were not adequately educated in their high school. I don't think that the problem is the common core standards. I believe the way it was rolled out to the schools is the problem. Teachers needed to have more training specifically towards the common core in instruction. Parents need to be properly informed about the changes in the their child's curriculum and be more active in the schools.

As for the testing, I believe that it should not be a yearly test but a quarterly test. This would give the teachers and students time to master skills required to pass a quarterly exam. Once they have mastered the first set of skills only then would a teacher be able to build on the mastered skills.

Thank you,

Elias, who just called in, said that his third grade test (two years ago) was fine, but that last year and this year he was tested on material for older grades, on material he had not been taught. Why has the state done that two years in a row now? Are fifth graders all supposed to perform a grade or two above because State Commissioner John King says so?

Maria, Morningside Hts.

As an educator of ESL students, I know that it is unfair and totally unreasonable to expect a student who has only had one year ( to the day) to learn a second language. This students are given a State test already to assess their growth, the NYSESLAT. Studies demonstrate that an ELL takes from 3 to 7 years to become proficient in a second language!


Three days of testing is a tremendous waste of time and money, and also emotionally abusive to young children. Companies are gathering data through these tests. In my high school we gave a test to most of the students for the SOLE PURPOSE of using the results for teacher evaluations. Think about the time and money involved in giving it AND grading it.

Shelley from Park Slope

Stop on blaming the method of assessing students! If there is no test, what kind of tools are to be used to measure the standard of the students!


Are principals a special interest too now, Commissioner King? Is anyone who disagrees with you a special interest?

Bellerose, NY

Hi John,

I give the principals credit for showing opposition to the standardized tests because they did it in a diplomatic/respectful way and it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. According to the principals and other educators did not like the poorly designed and confusing style of the tests. I also feel that they the students should be able to see the results of the tests and then each class can take it from there and discuss it in a simple and understanding way and by doing with alone they will learn from that so.This Farina lady is going to evaluate the students In other ways but why should we have to wait for her to make her 100 day speech. When it was decided that they will do away with the common core testing for whatever reasons she should have had the full itinerary already documented for everyone to see. Sorry but this lady along with this administration are just not with it.

Thank you John,


I support the principals. Chancellor Farina should sign up for PRE-K. She might learn something.

Port Richmond

I was so happy to see these actions today! State testing is out of hand - tests are too long and (I hear, from teachers) confusing & not always grade-appropriate; the results are used to rate teachers &schools, which I find inappropriate; kids in many districts are stressed by the use of scores for middle & high school screening. On top of that, the loss of curricular time is shameful, when you factor in not just practicing for or administering the tests, but also grading time - principals have to send their teachers out to grade the tests AND pay out of their budgets (if they even can) to hire substitutes on those days!! After all that time and money, parents don't even see what their kids got wrong and, in the past, teachers didn't get useful information about how students did so they could address gaps or deficiencies. Given all that, what are these dang things for besides people making money off each other??

Not so long ago, NYC kids had a state test at the end of elementary school and one at the end of high school - that seems like plenty to me! Their schools are assessing them internally throughout the year anyway. Why should everything come to a stressful, costly, screeching halt for these (bad) tests?

Happy to see students, parents, teachers and principals publicly standing on common ground today.


I hope this is the beginning of change to the Evaluation of Teachers,,meaning Why should Teachers who went to many years of college to get a Masters degree have their jobs on the line if the students do not pass the regents. so not fair, especially special Ed. teachers who are dealing with a very low functioning population. Some cannot read the regents never mind understand it. I hope this very unfair decision will be reconsidered. Great teachers who care and work so hard every day should NOT have to worry about being fired . That is like saying a Doctor will be fired if the patient gains weight its not in their hands, when a child cannot pass this test. We need to hear from the U.F.T about this issue. A.S.A.P

Adrienne,,,Jackson Heights Queens

Hi John

Chancellor Farina should focus on how the teachers are teaching so all the students can pass the Common Core tests, the teachers should be given a handbook that tells them what questions are on the tests and review it with their class. The students that need extra help should have a after school program to they can be tutored, the parents have to help their kids study everyday so they can excel in school and be ready for college. Chancellor Farina should add more bilingual classes for the students in the lower grades so they'll be able to speak engliush by the time they reach college. No principal should protest the standardized tests that makes it bad for the students they have to understand that school is not always easy it gets harder when they reach the higher grades and college people should go to

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