Chanting “I’m more than a test score” and waving picket signs, a group of about 19 students and 10 parents from Upper Nyack Elementary marched through the village this morning to protest standardized exams being held at their school and across New York state this week.
The trial exams, known as field tests, are given to students to help companies like Pearson improve the quality of testing and educational materials it sells to the state.
Betsy Chollet, a mother of a third-grader and a fifth-grader at Upper Nyack Elementary, said she and other parents organized the protest after becoming fed up with seeing their children constantly stressed about the increasing number of standardized tests they’re faced with.
Unlike the bevy of other standardized tests students take annually, the field tests aren’t counted toward students’ grades and mainly benefit companies that are producing the testing material, she said.
“Parents are tired of seeing their kid stressed out,” she said. “This is particularly infuriating because the field test does not benefit kids in any way.”
Upper Nyack fifth-graders were given math tests Thursday while other classes throughout the district were tested in different subjects like English Language Arts.
About 50 students out of 70 who are in the fifth-grade class didn’t join the protest but walked into school with notes from their parents exempting them from the field test, Chollet said.
The group of ralliers met at Memorial Park in Nyack at 8:45 a.m. and walked through the village, stopping at Village Hall before heading back to class at 10 a.m. Along the way they were met with supportive cheers and honks from passersby, Chollet said.
“People realize that their very high taxes are being spent irresponsibly,” she said, referring to the cost for substitute teachers the district takes on when full-time teachers leave the classroom to grade the tests.
She added that the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which relies in part on student test scores to grade teachers’ efficiency, is a method that hurts students and takes time away from learning. The new evaluation system is aligned with the state’s new Common Core learning standards that went into effect this year.
“We expect high-quality teachers and we demand high-quality teachers, so yes we want them to be evaluated, but we don’t want them evaluated based on a brand new curriculum that’s been forced on us by the state,” Chollet said.