Earlier today, I sent the following email letter to parents whose children attend M.W. Downing school, Malverne, NY. Since it’s an elementary school hosting grades K–2 only, the children are not yet exposed to the NYS high-stakes tests. But it’s the prime time to be discussing, #parentcamp-style, how parents envision the future education of their children.
The preparation cycle comes to an abrupt end today. The contracts of the test prep services expired at the end of March. For the past 7 months, the district schools, public and parochial, were diligently preparing our children for “college and career” instead of life.
On Tuesday, the testing cycle starts. Next two weeks, the teachers will be proctoring tests and substitutes will look after their classes. Collectively, teachers and students will be documenting:
1) the level of quality of the test preparation (teacher evaluations, applies to public schools only), and
2) the amount of data the edu. system was able to extract from our children, families, and communities (applies to both, public and parochial schools).
The month of May will return to normalcy, as it will be used only for administering the local tests. But in June, a new set of statewide testing, in the form of field tests, hits few selected neighborhood schools (Davison Ave, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Peace, and Grace Lutheran) again.
Apparently each year, an increasing number of parents find the prep and testing cycles rather ridiculous waste of time and money, and simply opt their children out of the tests. The new “deeper, critical thinking” doesn’t come cheap. In our small district of 1,700 students, it costs $850K. Half of it is wasted on testing of just 800 students (grades 3-8). But the wasted funds are nothing compared to the effect this two-cycle educational plan has on the underlying philosophy of what education should mean.
This message reached mostly parents whose children are not yet exposed to the state standardized tests. But that age is the most important, formative period in children’s lives. This message is addressed to parents who already question the merits of this “prep and test” education system. It is not intended to argue with proponents of the current system. I sent it to let you know you can reach me today, tomorrow, or next year. It will be a long process. In that process of discussions, evaluations, and adjustments, together we’ll move forward much faster. By browsing my site [this site], you’ll get familiar with my views and also with examples (links to) what it means to collaborate, discuss, and move together on educational issues.
Keep calm during the testing cycle, running helps sort one’s thoughts,
Malverne UFSD resident