Calls for “Opting-In” Spread Through New York

CC_Surgery_FB“Take the damn tests.”

That’s the advice of the New York Daily News as the New York state testing window opens this week.

The Daily News was joined by pieces in the New York Post and The New York Times – all carrying a message about the importance of students participating in annual assessments so that teachers, schools and districts have an accurate depiction of student performance, and so students and parents know where kids are on their path to the next grade.

“Tests are critically important,” writes the Daily News editorial board. “New York has done everything imaginable to ease the supposedly unmanageable stress piled on Janies and Johnnies throughout the state. Everything imaginable, short of running all exams through the shredder.”

The New York Post editorial board stressed that “yearly assessments are vital in measuring learning.” The board even went as far as to call out educational leaders who opposed testing as “betraying the kids.”

The New York Times Kate Taylor also notes that, despite high opt-out numbers in the state last year, some New York City parents are quite vocal in their support of annual assessments, recognizing their value in providing a measure of student academic performance.

One parent noted that, “tests figure out the level of the student,” while another parent added that if his daughter did well, he’d be happy, but if she didn’t, “at least I know where she is.”

This is especially important for students of color and low-income students, who often attend the lowest-performing schools with the fewest resources. In “Al Sharpton supports Common Core testing in schools,” Reverend Al Sharpton added his endorsement to the opt-in movement – stressing that assessments are needed in the fight for educational equity.

And it’s not just New York’s news outlets that are talking about “opting in.” Using #SayYesToTheTest, High Achievement New York has a statewide outreach campaign to encourage parents to opt their children into state assessments. The opt-in effort, which includes direct testimonials from New York parents and teachers, “sends a simple message to parents across New York: this year’s tests are shorter, fairer, stronger – and parents should ‘yes to test’ for their children. Ignore the naysayers who want to go back to past policies that left generations of minority children behind and millions of students unprepared for college. Kids should take the tests and help ensure that all students have an equal shot at a quality education,” said Steve Sigmund, Executive Director of High Achievement New York,

For parents who are still unsure about the assessments, or what’s required of students at each grade level, the New York Daily Post has compiled a helpful grade-level guide that includes a description of skills and content students should have mastered in each grade, practice questions and teacher testimonials.

Additional information about New York’s annual assessments can be found at EngageNY.org.