For all of you parents who thought the testing season was over, here is an alert from Fred Smith, testing expert:
Memo To Parents and Guardians of 88,000 NYC Children Regarding Upcoming Field Tests:
Good morning. It’s late in this school year. I hope that you and your sons and daughters are well. I know you have been busy with everyday matters. Therefore, the field tests your children are expected to take are not high on the list of things you want to hear about.
Evidently, NYC Chancellor Farina respects that too and has chosen not to disturb you with information about them. But, we know that you are capable of multi-tasking. Here are a few points you should be aware of:
Over the next three weeks, field tests will be administered to students in grades 3-8. The tests may be given any day through June 10.
Field tests let vendors like Pearson try out questions on children in order to develop future exams.
Since 2012, Pearson has given separate field tests in June (aka stand-alone field tests) to a large sample of students throughout New York State. Results don’t count for the students.
The way students respond to the try-out material is used to select the reading passages and items that will go on the English Language Arts and Math tests to be given next April to New York State’s 1.2 million test population—which encompasses 440,000 children in New York City.
The cost of the field tests is borne entirely by taxpayers, free of charge to their producer. They take less than an hour to administer but disrupt the school day.
New York City’s Department of Education does not call attention to the field tests. It fails to mention that 774 of our schools have been assigned to give them or that 87,330 children have been targeted to try out items in the service of a commercial test publisher.
The bulk of the stand-alone field testing won’t begin until May 31. That’s when 85% of the ELA and Math tests are due to start. These are the “Paper-Based” Tests. The PBTs are aimed at 517 of our schools and 61,000 students.
We have also been asked to do “Computer-Based” field testing for the first time. This experiment will kick off on Monday, May 23 and involve 11,000 city children. Enlisting their participation is intended to help transition us from PBTs to computerized exams.
Introducing CBTs will accelerate the profit-making encroachment of technology in the classroom. This objective must be important. Just this week the State Education Department posted a cheerful online letter anticipating “technology issues” but assuring us that the benefits outweigh the bugs.
Over the last four years, the stand-alone approach has proven to be ineffective. Teachers have roundly criticized the poor quality of the resulting operational exams given each April. They complain that the test material is inappropriate and the items are flawed. Yet, the bad exams were built via the same kind of field testing process that will be repeated here over the next few weeks
A large majority of parents (and many teachers, too) have not been informed about the upcoming tests or their purpose. The DOE has made little effort to notify parents in a forthright way.
Chancellor Farina, who speaks about the importance of “parent engagement,” apparently wants the field tests to go forward without parents knowing much about them or learning that taking them is voluntary. Some parents might even say they don’t want their children to participate.
In fact, since 2012, more and more moms and dads have become aware of these extra tests and have refused to let their children sit for them. Here is a letter parents can submit when they choose not to not let their children take the field tests.
Please find out if your children are in a school that has been assigned to give the field tests by checking the list of schools posted here.
Even if your child is not in one of the grades that is scheduled to be tested, please alert other parents in targeted schools about the field tests and share information with them.
At least you will have a chance to engage in what’s happening and decide whether you want to exercise your right to say Yes or No. Knowledge is power. Thank you. -- Fred Smith