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By Kathy Brown
Let me start by stating my district, as well as most around the state, is trying to implement the new education law known as Race to the Top in the least-intrusive way possible.
However, as part of this law, teachers must have two different test scores for their “accountability” in their annual evaluation. Therefore, your children will be tested in all subjects, including physical education and music, this fall with follow-up post-tests in the spring.
This may not sound awful, but it is making young children cry and think that they are not smart. It’s making older children lose respect for the whole testing process.
We are testing students on topics they have not been taught in order for the teachers to show gains in student abilities. Children as young as 4 are taking tests they can’t even read. Some students sobbed through the tests. We are also demoralizing most of our special education students.
The dream of making New York State teachers “accountable” is falling on the backs of your children. One school I know has started to offer “play therapy” to de-stress kindergartners and first-graders. This over-testing is outrageous. It could go by the label “child abuse.”
A colleague told me that some physics students have dropped his class after taking the pretest. These students couldn’t picture themselves ever passing this test in June. And now they never will.
This teacher has had a great passing rate on the Regents exams for more than 20 years. Because these students became discouraged over test items that have not been yet been taught, they gave up.
Imagine what will happen if every school year begins by first defeating its students. A co-worker’s first-grade son crawled into bed crying about how hard school is now. He had just taken his “pretest” that day.
Older students know these pretests don’t “count,” so they are putting the lyrics to songs or listing menu items on their tests rather than answering the questions. The damage we are doing may be irreparable.
New York State teachers agreed to the implementation of this failed and flawed law because if we hadn’t, the school districts would lose the federal Race to the Top money and state funding, which would hurt students even more. Teachers and principals are between a rock and a hard place. It seems we have been legislated to make your kids cry.
Parents: help us stop this madness for your child’s sake. Contact your state legislators and the governor and let them know this law needs to be repealed until the flaws are worked out and kids don’t get over-tested.
Let’s stop hurting the state’s children.

Kathy Brown is a special education teacher.