Written by Daniel Offner Wednesday, 20 November 2013 00:00
Immediately following the ballyhoo—brought on by state Education Commissioner John King’s recent visit to Mineola High School—parents in the Farmingdale School District gathered at Allen Park for a discussion about the Common Core curriculum, the impacts of high stakes testing, and opting out of the exam.
Since 2011, when the New York State Education Department adopted the Common Core Learning Standards, public school districts around the state are required to test students, grades 3-8, on a new wave of English Language Arts and
Mathematics assessments. However, with approximately 30 percent of all students in the state passing at or above proficency, the new curriculum has parents and educators outraged over the results.
Dr. Joseph Rella, Superintendent of the Comsewogue School District, was the first panalist to speak to the crowd of over 50 Farmingdale parents about the impact of the standardized assessments on Elementary and Middle School students.
“I saw, over the last 3-to-5 years, an assault on public education,” Rella told parents. “Now it was going to directly effect the children.”
Rella added that he is “ineffective” based on the state assessments, since Comsewogue students’ scores dropped from 90 percent proficient to 30 percent, over his four years as superintendent.
“When 70 percent of students are expected to fail... it’s just abusive,” Rella added.
General Manager of the Badass Teacher Association Marla Kilfoyle said that the Common Core gives no flexibility for teachers to diagnose students strengths and weaknesses and forces them to keep moving with their lessons.
“I felt, as an educator, that I was committing malpractice by not speaking up,” Kilfoyle said.
As both a teacher and a parent of a public school student, Kilfoyle said the standardized tests, in some instances, start kids thinking that they failed.
“I don’t blame [my son’s] teachers, I blame John King and the New York State Education Department,” Kilfoyle added.
Anthony Griffin, a public school instructor responsible for kickstarting “lace to the top,” created the campaign to wear green shoelaces as a recognizable symbol to let students know they are more than just a statistic in the grand scheme of things.
Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt Out—a Facebook campaign that has gained the attraction of approximately 12,500 Long Island parents and organizations, by encouraging parents to refuse administering the standardized tests to their children—informed parents of the Farmingdale School District that opting out could serve as the proverbial “kill switch” to the new state assessments.
“If enough kids refuse to take this test, then the whole thing fails,” Deutermann said. “Having no kids take them will make the data useless.”
According to Deutermann, Long Island Opt Out has recruited several liasons in an attempt to garner more support from local parents. As of press time, roughly 250 people have enrolled in the Farmingdale Schools Opt Out page on Facebook.