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Malone school board urged to protest high-stakes testing

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MALONE — Many Malone Central School District teachers are concerned by the amount of standardized testing required in classrooms, and two on Tuesday requested that the Board of Education pass a resolution protesting it.

Board members decided to review a sample resolution and several spoke out against the testing as well. If the board does adopt the resolution, it will join a growing list of New York districts whose teachers and administrators feel the same way.

High school social studies teacher Nathaniel J. Hathaway and eighth-grade English/language arts teacher Brianne Iby, president and vice president, respectively, of the Malone Federation of Teachers, proposed the resolution Tuesday night. They noted that many school districts already have adopted resolutions against “high-stakes testing.”

Mr. Hathaway said there are many arguments against the tests, which he said ignore other types of learning, don’t promote a love of learning and can narrow a curriculum.

“One of the discussions we regularly have is the idea that, well, we’re going to eliminate certain parts of the curriculum in our classrooms since they never test it anyway,” he said, “and that’s unfortunate.”

With the narrow scope of topics, Mr. Hathaway said, certain topics students find interesting could be eliminated.

He said the best indicator of how students will perform in college is their high school grades, not the SAT, ACT or other test scores, and additional testing puts more stress on students.

Ms. Iby said test results could make students insecure. She said that students who normally do well in certain subjects can get failing test scores, and that although teachers tell students every day that they’re capable of doing well, the scores can indicate otherwise.

School board President Wayne P. Rogers said the New York State School Boards Association is looking critically at standardized testing, but “this isn’t something that will be changed in a month or two.”

Superintendent Jerry Griffin said he believes there is some good in the new Common Core initiative. And Mr. Hathaway said after the meeting that Malone teachers have more of an issue with the amount of testing rather than with the entire initiative.

“I think we as adults in the district need to be very careful with what we do with these test results,” Mr. Griffin said, adding that this goes not only for teachers, but for parents.

“These assessments are directly tied to a teacher’s APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) scores, which I will say publicly is a bit ridiculous.”

Mr. Griffin added that the district is mandated to give the tests.

Board members also spoke about standardized testing and teacher requirements.

“Teaching is becoming so hard. What type of people are going to want to go into this profession?” asked Arlie Collins, board vice president and a teacher in the St. Regis Falls Central School District. “They’re going to get so beat up. ... That concerns me a lot.”

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