Monday, June 13, 2011

City Council Member Mark Weprin Blasts DOE Plan to Add Sixteen Tests

New York City Council Member Mark S. Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) denounced the New York City Department of Education (DOE)’s plan to use sixty-four million dollars of federal grant money for sixteen new standardized tests for public school students.

“Enough is enough,” said Council Member Weprin. “It is time for parents to rise up and give the DOE a wake-up call. Stop the insane obsession with testing.”

Council Member Weprin noted that as the fiscal climate has worsened in recent years, many schools have lost arts, music, physical education, and sports programs. The added tests will almost certainly mean less time and money available for these vital components of a well-rounded education.

“At a time when DOE is planning to lay off teachers, choosing to spend sixty-four million dollars on additional standardized tests is truly an outrage,” said Council Member Mark Weprin. “These tests will do nothing to improve education in our public schools and will only continue to sap time and resources that should be going toward helping our children learn.”

Shockingly, DOE plans to make students take tests for the sole purpose of evaluating teachers; the results would have no impact whatsoever on students, who will continue to spend more and more classroom hours on testing and test preparation drills without any resulting advantage in terms of actual learning.

“In short, the children are being used,” said Weprin.

“Fourth graders already spend ten percent of the school year taking tests,” said Council Member Weprin. “How much more testing do we really need?”

Council Member Weprin is also concerned that there are many cases in which students’ test scores are beyond a teacher’s control. Even the best instructor cannot change a child’s home situation, socioeconomic status, previous educational experience, or attention span, all of which can factor considerably in how well that child does on a standardized test. So besides harming students, an additional bevy of City tests would likely fail to achieve the stated goal of tracking teachers’ abilities.

In recent years, test preparation has already crowded out a broad curriculum, as time and resources consistently shift away from any subject matter that will not appear on state examinations. There is a monetary cost too, in the form of millions spent on test-prep materials as well as on administering and then grading the exams.

“Parents need to write to DOE Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott to make it clear that we are fed up with the extreme emphasis on standardized tests in City schools,” said Council Member Mark Weprin.