Thursday, June 11, 2015

Letter from the Amherst School Committee about High Stakes Testing

Even though the Crocker Farm PGO doesn't like to get political, we did want to share a letter that the Amherst School Committee and Amherst Pelham Regional School Committee is sending to the state regarding high-stakes testing. The ARPS superintendent and assistant superintendent have written letters as well. The MA Legislature's Joint Committee on Education will be holding a hearing today on MA House Bill 340, which would place a 3-year moratorium on PARCC testing, and remove the requirement that students pass a standardized test to graduate. Numerous school districts, including ours are sending representatives to today's hearing. 

Here is the letter, from the Amherst & Regional School Committees. The letter was written by Katherine Appy and signed by all the committee members.

On behalf of the Amherst School Committee and the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, I urge you to eliminate the high stakes nature of standardized testing and to impose a three-year moratorium on implementing PARCC.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that high stakes testing does not improve schools and their ability to educate all our students. Rather, these tests measure a narrow set of practiced skills that lack depth and fail to offer useful assessments of student learning.

High stakes testing punishes the very schools and students who most need a variety of pedagogical approaches and learning methods. It has shown no demonstrable signs of narrowing class, racial, or geographic disparities in achievement. When resources are pulled away from lower performing schools and groups because of poor test results, it is a form of punishing the victims of a bad educational policy.

High-stakes testing also fosters anxiety and competition. We know that students thrive when they feel confident and supported and that education thrives in a collaborative environment. High stakes testing pits schools and now teachers in a competitive, evaluative system that bases reward on the results of these narrow tests.
This Committee should prohibit the use of high-stakes tests in the evaluation of teacher effectiveness. This practice is unfair and inaccurate. Teachers should be evaluated on more comprehensive and school-based assessments of their students’ 

I implore this Committee to impose a three-year moratorium on PARCC testing and remove the high stakes nature of standardized tests going forward.

Crocker Farm teacher Ms. G-B has also created a video with her testimony on this issue.   The video has now been viewed over 7,000 times.   It is posted on facebook at this link: (people can view it without logging into a facebook account).