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Resolution opposing high stakes testing rejected by Springville-GI Board

SPRINGVILLE — Saying that she was concerned about the concept of high stakes testing and its adverse affects on students and teachers in New York, Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education Member Kara Kane attempted to pass a resolution, serving as a formal statement of disagreement with these methods.

The resolution failed to move forward, during the board’s Oct. 22 meeting, but board members said that they are not against discussing the issue again, in the near future.

Several board members questioned the language in the resolution, suggesting that it could anger state officials.

“I think they should be on the defensive,” Kane said, adding that a number of state officials who assist in drafting education laws and policies are not licensed teachers and, in some cases, have never stepped inside the classroom. “[Many] are lawyers and philanthropists,” she added.

Board Member Joan Kelly said that she would like to see more evidence in the resolution, or citable information, which could validate its claims. “We just need to be careful,” she said, adding that she would like a bibliography attached to the resolution. “We need to be accurate and concise.”

Board Member Janine Caimano said that she agreed with the resolution, urging the board to pass it and become a leader among school districts throughout the state. “It’s important for boards to stand up and voice their concerns about high stakes tests,” she said, adding that she does not want Springville to follow other districts, as they line up to show their disapproval and concern.

Other board members and administrators in attendance, including Superintendent Paul Connelly, said that the resolution’s language needed to “do a better job at defining what high stakes tests were.” Among the tests issued to students, some do not “punish the district and/or teachers, if results are low.”

Board Member Stephen Schunk said that testing has changed, throughout the years and that districts must assess, adding that he was not in favor of any kind of resolution that would eliminate testing. However, he said that he believed Kane had a right to present the resolution, as it was written.

Board Member Jon Einarsson called the resolution “finger-pointing” adding that the rest of the board members should remember, “When you point a finger, three are pointing back at you.” He said that he could not support a resolution that urged the state to end high stakes testing.

Einarsson said that he took issue with board members’ attempting to pass policies when they were not teachers – a claim that Kelly corrected, as a former teacher. Kelly explained that she believed tests do not effectively measure student abilities and teacher competencies.

“Testing is important,” she said, “but the problem is that kids are taking tests in information they had two years ago. Hello? We have tests now that aren’t testing children’s ability to think critically.”

The board agreed to revisit the issue, in the future.
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2012-10-27 | 20:17:51
Testing out of control
Way to go Ms. Kane! We need leadership on School Boards like yours throughout Western NY! Here's hoping this moves south about 10 miles!