Liverpool BOE calls out state for overreliance on tests

— The Liverpool Central School District may join the ranks of other districts to take a stand against standardized testing.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 27, the board of education discussed a resolution calling for New York state to develop an accountability system that relies on something other than excessive standardized testing. The resolution also asks Congress to overhaul No Child Left Behind and to reduce testing mandates.

The state’s reliance on standardized tests for everything from school funding to teacher and principal assessments has been heavily criticized. The 2012-13 tests in particular have been condemned because they incorporated the new Common Core Learning Standards, often before teachers were prepared to teach the material to their students. As a result, scores were abysmally low. In Liverpool, about 32.1 percent of students met or exceeded the proficiency standard for the ELA exam, while 37.8 percent did so for the math.

In Liverpool, former Superintendent Dr. Richard Johns was especially critical of the state’s mandates on testing. His successor, Mark Potter, is following in his footsteps.

"Are we doing justice for the education of all students by mandating more and more testing?" Potter asked. "And when I mean more testing, I'm talking about more seat-time testing. The seat time has increased from what typically has been in the past, two days to three days, and now from 45 minutes to 60 minutes in some cases."

His comments were echoed by members of the school board.

"This kind of testing is not adding value to our students, and it's not aiding our teachers and staff," said BOE Vice President John Kennedy.

Potter said the existing system of testing restricts the district’s ability to create a curriculum and is detrimental to a child’s education. Instead, the district would be better off creating a project-based learning assessment that identifies a student’s skills.

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