“Over-testing” in general, and including what are called field tests — trial questions that may be used on future exams but on which students are nopt graded — continue to concern educators, Eleanor Tritt, the Amagansett School superintendent, told the school board at its meeting Tuesday morning.
Mentioning a letter from John B. King Jr., the state commissioner of education, and a document from an organization called EngageNY, which helps the state assess reforms, Ms. Tritt said she had significant concern about the state wanting “to eliminate stand-alone field testing” and to further incorporate field-test material in regular tests. “They give the same field-test questions to children at different grades,” she said. “For kids in lower grades, it’s too hard for them, it’s frustrating, it takes time away. They spend an inordinate amount of time, and skip through questions that count.” Furthermore, she said there was no way to determine which field-test questions a child was exposed to.
“The school is required to adhere to state mandates, and children are required to take state tests,” Ms. Tritt said after the meeting. But the state had adopted the Common Core for standardized tests without involving educators, she said. “Superintendents are asking the state to actually have a plan to implement the process in a way that would be more effective for the children. We all agree that raising standards is always a good thing and are always trying to improve.”
“The curriculum modules are being released by the state this year, yet they’re not being organized and giving teachers lead time to implement and be trained on modules before they teach it,” she said. “It’s not an educationally sound way to implement new programs.”
Ms. Tritt referred to an article in Education Week titled “Demand for Testing Products, Services on the Rise.” Like all school districts, Amagansett is “bombarded with people trying to sell products to prepare children for tests,” she told the board. The commercial aspect of test preparation “is really pushing and lobbying for more of the testing. . . . There’s a tremendous market.”
The superintendent also referred to another article in Education Week, which emphasized the importance of teaching social problem-solving skills, self-regulation, and honesty. “We should be proud of the character-development program we have, which is infused throughout our program,” she said. Children “are reminded in every way, every day, how important it is to have self-confidence but to be respectful of others.”
As if to illustrate her point, the meeting had begun with a video presentation featuring students praising the board in song. In recognition of School Board Appreciation Week, members of the board were also treated to gifts presented by Jason Hancock, president of the Amagansett Teachers Association, and Kathy Solomon, the association’s vice president.
“Everyone really appreciates you being the unsung heroes who devote so much of your time and energy,” Ms. Tritt told the board members. “At the same time, you balance our need to be mindful of the impact on the community. . . . You have to make some really hard decisions, and we appreciate the time and effort you put in. We want to thank you very much.”