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April 25, 2013

Sharon Springs teacher's letter goes viral

(Continued)

Field went on to write “What are the state tests telling you? Well, some kids can rush through tests and do poorly ... and some kids can take their time ... and do poorly ... because they didn’t finish ... had to rush at the end ... The experiences that each student and each teacher draws on from life are different. Yet the state assessments are making us all into robots.

“The tests are not measuring anything except anxiety. ... It is proving that New York state will do anything for funding, do anything to keep the jobs at the state level, and do anything to keep the test-making companies in business.”

In a statement from the state Education Department on the subject, spokesman Dennis Tompkins said the Board of Regents announced in December 2010 that the state would begin testing students on the rigorous common-core standards beginning this year.

“We are now three years into a statewide effort to provide teachers with the professional development and other supports they need to make the transition to the common core. It’s hard to understand how some can claim that they are being caught unprepared for the change. It’s equally difficult to understand why anyone would suggest that the change is happening too quickly for teachers and students, when the exact opposite is true. If we want our children to be ready for college and meaningful careers, we need higher standards — and a way to measure whether those standards are being met — and we need them now.”

Sharon Springs Central School Superintendent Patterson Green supported Field’s right to voice her opinion as a parent and teacher.

“She has raises some valid points. It was very long,” he said of the tests. “A number of our better students didn’t have a chance to do a thorough job.” She discussed submitting the letter before she did it, he said, adding that he wasn’t sure how much attention it has received. But, “state tests have been around for a long time. It’s part of life and we are making the best of it,” and providing professional development for staff members to help them with the transition.

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