Teachers at PS 234 in Manhattan Speak Out Against Testing Climate

The teachers at PS 234 in Manhattan are taking a stand!  I sincerely hope other schools follow suit.  It’s going to take a massive effort, but it can be done!

 

Dear Families of PS 234,

It is with sincere mutual respect and trust as your children’s teachers that we reach out to you to start a conversation about our concerns with the current state of the standardized testing climate. Last week you received an email from our principal, Lisa Ripperger, about the school’s reflection on test prep and why it has been shortened from six weeks to three weeks this year. As teachers we wanted to reach out to you and let you know our thoughts.

Our educational values do not align with the choices elected officials have made for us. Against our better professional judgment, we are forced to administer the 3rd through 5th grade New York State ELA math, and science tests. This is at odds with our core philosophical values. More importantly, this conflicts with what we know to be true about effective teaching.

At PS 234, we value authentic inquiry and collaboration. We know that learning occurs within meaningful contexts that are relevant to students’ lives and when students are deeply invested in their growth and development. We have the privilege to construct curriculum where informative assessment drives student progress. These assessments help us to make careful choices about instruction.

Here are our thoughts:
Test scores are not an accurate representation of your child’s educational progress.
State testing does not inform instruction. Teachers do not receive any informative data from state assessments, nor do they know what will be on the tests.
Testing negatively impacts every single class of students across the school. Financial and staffing resources spent on preparation and administration of the test would be better used to aid classroom instruction.
Across the city and state, participation in these tests has led to a misguided assumption about how to best educate students.
We believe in useful assessment and are not opposed to standardized testing.

We are asking for your help. Educators and students are trapped in a system designed to halt innovation and sustain oppression. Current conditions have left us in a state of fear, but we can no longer be silent. As educators, we can voice our opinions and discuss the implications, but we cannot do more without your partnership.

Here is how to help:
Start a conversation with your student’s teacher about testing.
Talk to other families about testing.
Come to the PTA meeting on March 17th at 8:30 AM or that evening 6:00 PM to hear staff perspectives on testing and share your thoughts and concerns.
Visit www.changethestakes.org to get more information.
If you are considering opting out, write a letter to Lisa to express your concern over state tests and refuse your child’s participation in the tests. Opting out of the state tests is your choice. We want you to make an informed decision.

Please consider coming to either of the meetings to continue this conversation. We cannot take this important stand without your help. As a community, this is the chance to voice our grave concerns with the state of education.

Respectfully,
The Teachers and Staff of PS 234
PS 234, The Independence School, 292 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 233-6034 | Fax: (212) 374-1719
www.ps234.org

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