BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO

Students in the third grade and above just finished taking this year’s standardized tests, but the questions our community has for the Common Core testing are far from answered.

As a parent of a fifth-grader and someone who visits our schools, I have heard many parents, teachers, administrators and students complain about the recent state tests. Last year, I advocated for and supported a number of changes made to the Common Core testing, which I believe were in direct response to the outcry of many.

Changes such as no longer testing children in kindergarten through second grade, not using the tests for actual student grading or promotion, eliminating the distribution of a student’s personal information and releasing some of the questions and tests results were steps in the right direction. For the sake of our children, we need to take additional steps in the right direction.

A sure sign that the issue of state tests needs to be addressed is the fact that last year roughly 60,000 parents opted their child out of taking the tests, while this year that number has grown close to 190,000 statewide. While I do support the right of a parent to have their child opt out of taking the state tests for a number of valid reasons, I am also a person who likes to fix things that are broken. I want to fix the broken Common Core standardized state tests and how we evaluate our students and teachers.

As a member of the Senate Education Committee, I will promote the need to space the multiple-day tests out over a greater period of time to alleviate some of the stress that students and parents experience. The test questions should better reflect the grade level in which they are given and the ability of the individual child should be considered. I like to have our children have standards and goals, but let’s make sure that they are fair and reasonable.

We need the teachers and parents to have more detailed information of previous tests released in a more timely manner in order to better prepare our children for the school year. Until we address the issues surrounding our state tests, no student, teacher or school should be penalized for either the test results or for students not taking the test.

Only after major improvements are made to the Common Core testing, we may have to consider changing the name, because the mere mention of “Common Core” causes many emotions to flare.

An extremely large number of parents opted their child out of taking the standardized tests this year. To me, that is a strong message that we as a state must realize there is still much more work to be done in revising the implementation of Common Core standards. We must take into account that not only are young minds meant to be molded, but more importantly grow in their own way — we should not focus on cramming information into them and then punishing students and their teachers when these standards are not met.

As our legislative session continues in Albany, I invite all of my constituents to make their voices heard. Reach out to any one of my three district offices, or email me at addabbo@nysenate.gov, and let me know how you think our students and teachers should be evaluated. It is with your insight that I will continue to fight most effectively for our children’s educational well-being.

Senator Addabbo represents the 15th Senatorial District, which covers all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the western Rockaways.

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