Council Member Daniel Dromm stood with Rosalie Friend from Change the Stakes, left, and parents Danny Katch and Dudley Stewart to inform parents that children can opt of the English Language Arts standardized tests which started on Tuesday.

NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) joined parents who chose today to not permit their children to take high stakes English Language Arts (ELA) tests.  Dromm was a NYC public school teacher for 25 years before being elected to the NYC Council in 2009.

The ELA exams are scheduled to take place in NYS schools today, Wednesday and Thursday.  More and more parents have chosen not put their children through the pressure of high stakes testing because they see the detrimental effects these tests have on their children.  Parents have the right to pull their children out of or refuse the testing and have the school use alternative measures of evaluation.  Schools are forbidden from retaliating against parents who choose this option.

“High stakes tests such as the NYS English Language Arts exam are being used in the wrong way,” said Dromm.  “The tests are a snapshot of where a child may be at academically at a certain period of time but there are so many other variables that influence a child’s academic performance.  Using only high stakes tests to evaluate children is wrong.  We need to look at children holistically.  A child should not be seen as only a test score.”

In New York State, the Governor has been the main proponent of legislation that requires the use of these high stakes tests to evaluate student performance, teacher performance, principals’ salary increases, and school report cards.  Pressure from Washington has also influenced the state’s decision.

“These tests were never intended to be used this way,” Dromm said.  “Non-educators may not understand why it is inappropriate to use tests for these purposes. Fortunately, many parents citywide agree with me and have begun to opt their children out of the tests.  This may not be the choice that every parent makes but is certainly one which I respect.”

Dudley Stewart, a parent of a third grader at PS 69, decided to not allow his son to take the tests.  “My son wrote that his New Year’s resolution was to pass the reading test.  He has been worried sick since then.  I don’t want my child or any child to have to go through this type of pressure.  There are many other ways the schools can and should evaluate my child.”

Parents argue that the use of portfolios and teacher evaluation of students would be much better gauges of student performance.

“My child is not a test score,” said PS 69 parent Danny Katch.  “He loves art, music, and gym.  Those subjects are important, too.  Why are we concentrating only on the ELA and math?  It’s ridiculous and academically dishonest to not look at the whole child.  I refuse to let my child be used in this way.”

Dromm added, “Politicians in Albany and Washington who have never taught have made many serious mistakes regarding testing and the way in which tests are used.  We need to change that.  Opting out of testing is one way to show our displeasure with these political decisions.”

There is a growing national movement to “opt out” of testing.


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