Sherburne-Earlville’s BOE Takes A Stand On Standardized Testing

By: Kevin Doonan

SHERBURNE – The Sherburne-Earlville Board of Eduction received a standing ovation Monday after unanimously voting to enact a resolution signaling the district’s discontent with recently implemented education reforms. S-E is now the 19th New York State school district to pass such a resolution.

Prior to voting, the board heard from Mark Stern, assistant professor of educational studies at Colgate University, who is well versed in the studies of contemporary educational policy, as well as an expert on standardized testing. Dr. Stern spoke on a number of issues associated with the recent implementation of standardized assessments. The points put forth by the Colgate professor included: the fact that the new measures are being forced upon NYS school districts without any input from the districts; the long string of research dating back to the 1970s which has established that standardized testing is not an adequate indicator of what is happening in classrooms and speaks more to an individual student’s socioeconomic conditions; and that the new wave of testing is driven by big name testing companies that stand to extract a profit at the expense of NYS children.

“The idea is that standardized testing will hold teachers accountable, but what it really does is not hold the state accountable to provide students with the things they need,” said Stern. “Standardized testing does not inform teaching. Instead, it demonizes teachers.”

Following Stern’s address, the board asked questions about the possible negative repercussions of passing the resolution. Stern responded that – from his research – he has seen no backlash in the school districts which have passed the same resolution, either from the state or the federal government. He also articulated his severe doubt that any body of government would ever consider withholding funding for childrens’ education as a punishment to a board of education for taking a symbolic stance.

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