This is a corrected version of this story.
BY TIM LOUIS MACALUSO
Rochester school board member Mary Adams wants to eliminate high-stakes standardized testing in the school district. Her proposal (above) will be voted on at next month’s board meeting.
High stakes testing was a main feature of the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind law, and it continues to be a principal component of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top legislation. Actions under both administrations put a huge emphasis on rigorous testing from elementary grades through high school.
Schools that fail to meet state standards have typically faced punitive consequences. Federal and state aid can be withheld, and schools that don’t improve are often closed.
Reformers hailed the actions, saying that teachers in the nation’s public schools need to meet higher accountability standards. And they’ve argued that poverty has too often been an excuse for low student performance in most large urban school districts.
But opponents of high stakes testing say there’s little research suggesting that the testing regimens improve student outcomes. Just the opposite is true, they say.
More than a dozen people spoke in support of Adams’s resolution at last night’s board meeting, including several professors from area’s colleges.
Education advocate Carrie Remis, director of the Parent Power Project, issued a statement earlier today, rejecting the proposed testing ban:
“The Adams resolution is nothing more than a political stunt orchestrated by the teachers union as part of a national campaign to undermine public confidence in the new evaluation systems being implemented around the country as a result of parent and taxpayer cries for more accountability.”
Still, one of the evening’s speakers may have made the most compelling case for the resolution. City student Artesha Ingram spoke passionately about the struggles she’s having completing high school.
Ingram said she had always earned good grades until she reached high school, and then things became more difficult. Much of her difficulty is due to a toxic mix of anxiety and environmental pressures that, she says, are impacting her and most of her peers. She said she cannot devote as much time to her studies as she’d like because she helps her grandmother raise and care for her younger siblings. She said some of her teachers are extremely supportive, but others are not. And she said she’s contemplating dropping out.
Ingram described an educational environment where student disruption is constant, weapons are prevalent, and emotional support from district staff is in short supply. Students come to school with problems ranging from utter fatigue to sexual violence, she said.