I Don't Need Tests, I Want Knowledge
By Jacob Cauthen-Brown
To be delivered to:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Education Chancellor Walcott, Education Secretary Duncan, Education Commissioner King, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and President Barack Obama
I am a high school student in New York City. I am very concerned about the high stakes that have been attached to standardized testing in public education. Since the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, the amount of time and resources dedicated to testing has significantly increased. The pressures of high stakes testing in combination with budget cuts mean that my K-8 school emphasized only math and literacy. There was hardly any homework in social studies and science. The school doesn’t teach foreign language and hardly offers any art or music. Now that I’m in high school, it’s all about the Regents. We can’t graduate if we don’t pass at least five Regents exams, even if there are much better ways to show our knowledge and skills.
Does the focus on high-stakes testing improve student learning and achievement? No, it doesn’t. So what’s the point? You claim this is about “accountability,” but where’s the accountability to students and our parents? Where’s the accountability to teachers who actually know something about how kids learn and how to make it interesting and engaging? Where’s the accountability to taxpayers who are footing the bill for all this testing?
Here’s why high-stakes standardized testing is bad for kids:
*We spend so much time on test prep that school is dull, boring and frustrating. We don’t get to be creative and imaginative. Constant test prep – including test prep packets over “vacation” – makes kids dislike learning and dread school.
*Our education in science, social studies, history, art and music is neglected. (And no, that doesn’t mean you should develop more standardized tests for all those subjects.)
*Because we know that test scores matter for getting into middle school and high school and are used to evaluate our schools and our teachers, we feel A LOT of pressure to do well. The tests make us stressed and anxious.
*The tests also make our teachers scared and anxious which makes them a lot more cranky. Some teachers take their stress out on their students.
*Some schools with really bad test scores are closed, which means that students have to go to a different school or to the same school with new teachers. But they’re not necessarily better off and the disruption can be harmful.
*Standardized testing is especially hard on younger kids who might have a hard time sitting still for so long. It can make them dislike school at an early age.
Please join me in convincing federal officials (President Obama, Education Secretary Duncan), New York State officials (Governor Cuomo, Education Commissioner King), and New York City officials (Mayor Bloomberg, Education Chancellor Walcott) to lower the stakes on standardized testing. Stop using standardized test scores to punish schools, teachers and students.
This petition is sponsored by the parents of a New York City public high school student who wants to bring attention to the effects of high stakes standardized testing on himself and his fellow students.
"High stakes testing is ruining my education."