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This letter was forwarded to me by Long Island Opt Out. It is a model for other parents who object to high-stakes testing.
Dear Dr. Lonergan,
I received your letter dated June 22, 2015 regarding the NYS Assessments that was sent home with my third grader and was disheartened by its message. So much so, that I felt obligated to write a response.
Going into this 2015-16 school year, I will have three children enrolled in the Longwood Central School District. One in fourth grade, one in second grade and one in the universal pre-kindergarten program. I have been extremely pleased with their performance thus far. All of the teachers and staff that we have interacted with have been welcoming, encouraging and helpful both to myself and my children.
It was upsetting to receive a letter such as yours at the end of the school year. A letter that was not commending the staff of your district on a job well done or wishing parents and children a happy and productive summer, nor was it to thank the community for consistently approving the school budget or to show excitement about the new programs and staff that are being added because of passing that budget. Instead, this letter was a threat to parents that if they continued the opt out process, they would be hurting the district that we had just shown our collective support.
Opting out of assessments has not proven to hurt any district and to state otherwise to parents is to promote threatening propaganda. Opting out has proven to be an effective boycott, which has forced our elected representatives to hear the message we are trying to send. If I allowed my children to be involved in something that I do not feel has a place in their lives, I would not be doing my job as a parent.
My children have accomplished great things while attending school in the Longwood Central District. To state that a flawed assessment process is a necessary tool to show that growth is an insult. I have the utmost confidence in the highly qualified staff of Longwood.
By opting my children out of the state assessments, I believe that I am showing Governor Cuomo that I not only feel these exams have no place in my child’s learning, but that I wholeheartedly support the teachers that work with my children everyday. By opting my children out, I am clearly stating that:
• I will not support exams that look to punish those teachers.
• I will not support exams that will make up 50% of a teacher’s yearly evaluation.
• I will not support exams that require my child to sit for three consecutive days reading texts that are designed to be more challenging than their readability level.
• I will not support exams that require my child to sit for three consecutive days involved in math skills that they have not had the time to master.
• I will continue to opt my children out of these assessments and encourage others to do so if they believe it is the right choice for their child, regardless of what type of letter they receive from district administration.
I believe that changes will come. I don’t believe that I have to be forced to subject my children to a faulty system in order to change the as you stated, the “next generation of assessment.” I believe that the people with experience and knowledge of the educational field can get together and make the changes needed without subjecting current students to something developed to rank and dismiss hard working educators.
I sincerely hope that the district’s message at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year is a more positive and encouraging one than the message that was put out at the close of this school year