Support for Professors Against K-2 Testing sign now

We, representing doctors and professionals who have expertise in the issues of childhood and education, support our colleagues in their efforts to halt the plan for mandatory testing for kindergarten through second graders in New York City. By adding our voices to the petition below, we raise an alarm to other communities across the nation where young children are experiencing or about to experience this developmentally inappropriate, harmful practice.

This is the letter we support:

As representatives of a wide array of New York City and State Colleges and Universities, we denounce the use of high stakes testing as a primary means of assessing childrens progress and the institutionalization of testing for children in grades K-2. Our outcry against these practices is in defense of the youngest and most vulnerable of our citizens.

The No Child Left Behind act states that all curriculum and practices must be research-based. If the Board of Education had done some research of its own, it would have found out that high stakes tests have less validity than any other standardized test, and that tests given to children under 8 are even less dependable. The designers of these tests clearly state that they are not meant for individual assessment, only to give a range of ability for a large group of children. These unreliable measures, used out of context, punish schools and children. Cloaked in the language of equity in order to give a fair chance for all kids to get into talented and gifted programs, the plan to test all kindergarten through second graders is really a method of tracking and attaining more data for the progress report formula. Training classroom teachers for only two hours in order to give these tests (administered typically by psychologists) will create more false data. The time and money wasted in this initiative-time and money that could be used for better instruction and supplies for children-is abhorrent.

The two tests that have been selected for children aged 4-7 are in effect intelligence tests that measure environmental factors, not true potential. This means the tests are biased towards well-educated and affluent families. Research has shown that these tests are also culturally biased. Because of this, most low-income families will be blocked from this program, and the poor children that are accepted will become tokens, held up to show the success of the system while hiding a larger problem of inequity. We have many examples of how this has happened throughout the history of American education.

We are most concerned about the effect that these tests will have on the education of children. New research found in the American Educational Research Association Journal and from Rice University in Texas have shown that using high stakes tests to sort and assess the success of schools have had severe consequences for students. Teachers working in schools where test scores are low and do not improve after hard work become hopeless and blame the children. Administrators under pressure to improve their school rating move low-achieving students out or keep them in the same grade so the school will not be penalized, which inevitably leads to a high drop out rate. This research has direct connections to what is happening in New York City. If you continue on your path of hyper assessment, research shows that poor and minority children will suffer the most.

In our opinion, it makes much more sense to invest money in attracting, training, and mentoring high quality teachers who can make a much more accurate determination of a childs capabilities. It makes more sense to bring the high-quality education that occurs in talented and gifted schools to all of the children in New York City, so every child has a chance to be educated to their highest potential.

You are taking responsibility for one of the largest and most diverse cities in our nation by being school chancellor. It would behoove you to do some research on the subject, and consult with academics, teachers, and parents, before continuing to move forward. We urge you to think deeply about the consequences of your reforms, and halt the mandatory testing of children from kindergarten to second grade immediately.

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Sally MoonBy:
HealthIn:
Petition target:
Chancellor Joel Klein

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