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Friday, October 31, 2014
Wantagh school board OKs resolution against high stakes testing
by Mark Treske

The resolution read “...Resolved, that the Wantagh School district requests that the Commissioner of Education, New York State Board of Regents, the governor, and the New York Legislature all work together to suspend the current system of student assessment. Furthermore, we request that the commissioner involve all stakeholders in the development of a revised, research based, age appropriate assessment program with a well-conceived timeline. We also recommend that the current assessment system not be tied to teacher evaluation until a proven, research-based assessment system is in place.”

School board president Michael Soethout read the resolution as well as an accompanying statement outlining the district’s feelings on the testing program:

• “...that the current focus on standardized test scores and the amount of time spent on them negatively impact our students’ educational experience. The new assessments generate more opportunity for anxiety than growth.”

• “...that the current NYS 3-8 assessments are not predictors of college and career readiness.”

• “that the current policies’ and assessments’ greatest failure is to inappropriately accomodate the unique needs of students with disabilities and English language learners.”

• “Testing results should be utilized to inform instruction, improve program and diagnose needs, but not as the main accountability measure for teacher evaluation.”

The reading of the resolution received applause from those present at the meeting. However, Diane McCoy commented that she was “disappointed” in the statement. After asking whether the resolution was unanimously approved and asking the individual trustees their feeling on the issue of testing, a testy exchange ensued, wherein the board was accused of hypocrisy and politics in regard to the matter. “We’re not running from anything,” replied Mr. Soethout.

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