Stressed to the test: ELA testing begins this week

Posted at 6:52 AM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 10:14:02-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's back to the stress of those standardized tests for 3rd through 8th graders who take the ELA' this week.

"I feel like - I am kind of nervous about it," says Tess Reddin who is a sixth grader at Tapestry Charter School.

Her mother, Adrienne Romanowicz says the family is not 'opting out' of the two-day ELA. Romanowicz says they believe the data is important to track student performance. But she says there's too much 'teaching to the test' in classrooms.

"And there's a lot of ultimatums hanging over everybody's head...and you know people say that this school is going to fail if you don't do well and that kind of stress -- That's an adult conversation."

Chris Cerrone is co-founder of the New York Allies for Public Education and a Hamburg educator. He says that often times test results will measure the wealth of a community.

"The wealthier communities tend to have higher test scores. The poor communities tend to have lower test scores."

Cerrone has been leading the local opt-out movement. Last year more than 200-thousand students refused the test.

But the New State Education Department (NYSED) tells us they've listened to the many concerns of parents and teachers and made 'significant changes'. That includes reduced testing days and fewer questions.

For this season -- Tess has prepared her mind and body. She has a sweet treat for her classmates to ease any tensions.

"I have a tub of peppermints I'm going to bring in for the class."

Here is a full statement issued by Emily DeSantis, spokesperson for the NYSED:

“Over the past four years, Commissioner Elia and the Board of Regents have listened to the concerns of parents and teachers and made significant changes to the exams as a result. Starting last year, both the ELA and Mathematics testing sessions were reduced to only two sessions each, resulting in substantially fewer questions than in prior years. For the fourth year in a row the test will be untimed and we will release 75% of the test questions. Teachers from across the state serve on committees to write, evaluate and select the questions for the tests. Hundreds of New York State educators were involved in creating, reviewing and selecting questions for the 2019 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math test forms. This year, New York State teachers reviewed all questions for inclusion on the assessments at least six times. It’s up to parents to decide if their children should take the tests, and we want them to have the all the facts so they can make an informed decision.”

NYSED provides guidance for parents. You can learn more by clicking this link.

But Monday the state's largest teachers union, New York United Teachers (NYSUT), continues to blast the state tests calling them "flawed" The union has launched a "Correct the Tests" campaign. The campaign is demanding changes to what the union says are "flawed state exams."

NYSUT issued a news release saying the campaign "will raise awareness of the serious issues with New York’s grade 3-8 ELA and math tests and provide parents and educators a platform to demand the State Education Department take significant steps to address the stress and anxiety created by these flawed exams."

“The state’s obsession with high-stakes testing is a failed experiment that needs to end,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “That is why teachers, parents and students around the state have been working for years to fix New York State’s broken testing system. If we are going to restore trust in the system, we need to fix these tests now.”

NYSUT issued the following points in demanding change:

· the state tests are flawed and invalid;

· invalid scoring benchmarks mislabel children;

· ELA and math tests are too long;

· untimed testing can be cruel and traumatic;

· the tests are developmentally inappropriate; and

· computer-based testing is problematic and has been rolled out too quickly.

“New York’s state tests are failing our students,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said. “This is an issue that demands a collective solution. The State Education Department needs to step up and engage with teachers and parents to end this disaster.”

The rollout of the ELA's begins Monday with some schools taking the testing on computers. Pencil-based testing begins Tuesday.