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Petition Calls For Testing Ban For State’s Youngest Students

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Education advocates across New York are calling for a ban on standardized testing in pre-K through second grade.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, kicked off a Thursday conference call to launch a  statewide petition drive to stop expansion of standardized tests in children’s early years.

The petition comes as the union continues to call for a three-year moratorium on using tests aligned to the rigorous Common Core standards for “high stakes” decisions affecting teachers and students.

Jeannine Smith is a first-grade teacher in Middle Country School District, in Suffolk County. She explained the process involved and valuable learning time lost in administering the test to youngsters.

Angelica Rivera, parent leader with Citizen Action of New York and the Alliance for Quality Education, is the mother of pre-K students. She says the so-called "bubble test" on paper isn't much better, with some young children unable to hold a pencil properly.

Poestenkill Elementary School principal Peter DeWitt says the idea of standardized testing "scares" him. DeWitt contends that there are other, fairer ways to assess student learning.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's press office did not provide anyone to comment. Cuomo espoused the teacher evaluation system, a requisite to qualify for federal Race To The Top grant money. New York won $700 million via the program in 2010.

Statement from Commissioner King

On NYSUT/UFT Call for Banning Pre-K-2 Standardized Testing

"We support the drive to prohibit standardized testing of pre K through 2nd grade students. 

“There are no pre-K – Grade 2 standardized tests administered or required by the state, and there never have been.  Decisions about how to measure student progress in pre-K – Grade 2 are made by local school districts. However, we strongly recommend against the use of bubble tests or other traditional standardized tests and urge districts and their bargaining units to identify other ways to assess learning progress for these very young students.

“In fact, the Board of Regents has a long-standing policy against administering standardized tests to our very youngest students.

"We look forward to working together to make sure that children are protected from more testing than is necessary at the local school district level."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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