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Local legislators support Truth-About-Testing bill

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The new, more rigorous Common Core assessments concern both parents and teachers who want to know how much these tests are costing school districts, both monetarily and in terms of class time.

The Truth About Testing Act, introduced in the state Assembly and Senate in April, calls on Education Commissioner John B. King to compile that information for each district — and local representatives support it.

“I’ve had several constituents concerned about how we’ve gone about our testing procedures in New York,” said Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River. “It would be our due diligence to find out what the ramifications of the testing are and how much time it’s taking up in the classroom.”

At the Indian River Central School District Board of Education meeting May 2, district Education Association President Carmine V. Inserra Jr. spoke emotionally on behalf of the teachers about the effects of the Common Core assessments — testing to align education standards throughout the country.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of stress and not really a purpose at all,” he said. “There’s nothing I feel I can appreciate about the testing.”

He said teachers feel that the tests are being forced on the students too quickly and that students are pawns in a state experiment. This year’s tests, administered from mid-to-late April to students from third to eighth grade, had more questions and less time than last year’s assessments.

“How does that help a student?” he said. “I would never put a test in front of a kid, a child, that I knew they were going to fail. We can’t stand to ignore this.”

He urged all the board members to call their legislators and support the Truth About Testing bills.

In addition to compiling the cost and the total amount of class time spent on the assessments, the bill also would require compilation of the total number of student assessments administered in each school district, according to truthabouttesting.org.

“The study will also include an anonymous statewide survey of teachers on the time devoted to test preparation for each student assessment, and will also survey teachers on the effect of test preparation on the quality of instruction and on recommendations from teachers as to how they would suggest improving student assessments,” according to the website.

Mr. Blankenbush said he is concerned that the assessments will lead teachers to start teaching for the test rather than teaching children to love learning.

He said he has spoken with some teachers about the assessments, which began this year for third- through eighth-graders, but most of the concerns come from parents.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, also supports the bill, saying that it sounds like a “fantastic idea.”

“I probably am going to go on as a co-sponsor,” she said.

Although state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, was not available for comment, her spokeswoman, Sarah V. Compo, said the senator is planning to cosponsor the senate bill.

“Senator Ritchie has been talking with constituents, educators and the chair of the Education Committee about this issue and has concerns,” said Ms. Compo in an email.

Mrs. Russell worries that the state aid for rural upstate school districts she fought for is going toward buying and administering the tests rather than helping to sustain programs.

“I’m concerned about the amount of testing going on,” she said.

She said many of her constituents have sent emails or letters to her office about the new tests.

“It’s absolutely an issue that folks in the north country are paying attention to, and it’s a concern for me, as well.”

For more information on the bill, go to https://truthabouttesting.org.

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