On January 27, 2016, the Commissioner addressed the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. During the question and answer period following his comments, the Commissioner addressed standardized testing and issues like teaching to the test, using coercion to get families to participate and what families should do if they know schools are using excessive test prep.
It’s so important that you watch the video and hear everything that he said, but here’s a few important quotes:
On Refusing to Take the State Test:
“We should not get into coercive battles with families. If families are going to refuse to take the test, we just try to help parents understand why we believe tests are an important role in education and then we manage the administration. And if we have a percentage of people who refuse to take the test then we just need to manage that in an orderly way.”
“Now, I think that if a student refuses to take the test, they should be engaged in some sort of other instructional activity. I don’t think they should go out and play basketball or go out on a field trip but they should also have some alternative activity that doesn’t feel punitive, that just feels meaningful.”
On Test Prep:
“If schools are shutting down in February because now we are moving in to test prep mode that’s just bad. We should stop doing that. That’s bad for teachers, it’s bad for teaching, it’s bad for kids it’s bad for communities. Excessive rote test prep is just bad we should stop it. “
“If you see it [excessive rote test prep] happening tell ‘em to stop. If they don’t stop, tell ‘em the commissioner said to stop…It’s not okay to waste kids’ time for a silly goal to get higher test scores…If somebody wastes your kids time with test prep, you need to call them on it. Don’t stay quiet.”