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.
To read the district’s draft resolution, visit liverpool.k12.ny.us/files/filesystem/8-27-13%20Packet.pdf.
The board, however, did not vote on the resolution, as some members of the board were concerned about the language.
“I know we need to do something different,” said board member Stacy Balduf. “I know testing isn’t the be-all, and I know our district and our teachers need our support. I just want to make sure we’re using the right vehicle.”
The Baldwinsville, North Syracuse and Lyncourt school districts have already approved similar measures.
In other business:
The board approved the 2013-14 tax rates as follows:
Town of Salina: $25.99
Town of Clay: $597.77
Clay’s is significantly higher because Clay uses a partial assessment (4.35 percent, up from 4.34 percent last year), while Salina operates on a full assessment. Assessment in both towns has gone down (-0.6362 percent in Salina and -0.14 in Clay). The budget the BOE adopted April 8 estimated a tax levy increase of 5.2; the actual levy increase is 5.52.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club’s Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.