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Standardized tests are failing children

Our local media, state leaders and the Buffalo District Parent Coordinating Council are delivering a false narrative about our Buffalo schools, labeling them as “failing.” They want us to accept state standardized tests as the absolute measure of our children’s success. They tell us that students as young as 9 are not college- and career-ready because they have not met an arbitrary set of standards on a narrow set of assessments based upon a commercially designed, tapered curriculum. Our public schools venerate the whole child, while the state has winnowed down students’ valuation to their performance on math and ELA assessments.

New York has disregarded our schools’ vibrant tapestry of diverse human experience, circumstance, achievement, struggle, perseverance and victory – reducing our students’ dignity and worth to a single score. Instead of punishment, we need sound guardianship of our state’s most valuable assets, our students. We can no longer accept stamping our children with a number without being afforded diagnostic and prescriptive information to address their strengths and weaknesses. We need smart testing reform that honors the unique learning style of each student and that supports, rather than crushes, growth and potential.

As a mother of four in the Buffalo schools, I attended the Summit for Smarter Schools on Oct. 2. I learned that one-third of classroom hours are spent on state assessments and that children are subjected to 3,200 minutes of testing. The state’s infatuation with high-stakes testing, coupled with a reduced curriculum, is robbing our children of valuable teachable moments, of opportunities to develop essential skills that employers desire, such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and innovation. Our schools are not failing. Standardized tests, designed to determine our children’s fate and label our schools, are failing our children. It’s time to change the narrative.

Amy Cappelli

Buffalo