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Education

Why Buffalo Public school students are urged to take state tests

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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A state-wide campaign was kicked off Tuesday on Buffalo's east side. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the "Say Yes to the Test" campaign is urging parents to make public school children take next week's New York State Assessments for 3rd through 8th graders.

The campaign is discouraging the 'opt out' movement. Buffalo’s District Parent Coordinating Council leader Sam Radford voiced radio ads urging children to take the tests. The urban advocates said city public school children must be measured to determine the achievement gap.

“The way that we know we’re improving is we test our children. We find out where they are at and we ensure that they continue along those tracks. So we are asking all parents in the city of Buffalo to “Say Yes to the Tests” now more than ever,” stated Radford. 

“We are responsible for holding a system accountable for our children to achieve results,” said Buffalo Urban League President Brenda McDuffie.  

McDuffie said it is imperative to test children to track their academic progress. 

Buffalo Urban League President Brenda McDuffie said it is imperative to test children to track their academic progress.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

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“The best way to measure whether the person will achieve the ability to take care of themselves and possible their families in the future is education. And it is not an option to ‘opt out’. It is not an option,” McDuffie explained.

“We don’t learn until they’re in jail,” stated CJ Banks. He’s also with the Urban League and a Buffalo School parent.  He too is urging parents to make sure their children take the assessments.

“It’s not an option. Forget about this opt out – opt in – the reality is – take the test,” remarked Banks.

Last year over 230,000 opted out of the assessments state-wide. Parents who boycotted the tests say children are too stressed. But High Achievement Executive Director Stephen Sigmund disputed the pressures for students and teachers. He said there are state laws that limit test prep and test taking time.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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High Achievement Executive Director Stephen Sigmund speaks at news conference.

“So these notions that the kids are spending all their time doing test prep and taking the tests are just false. If you look at the actual facts – I know we’re in a universe now where there are ‘alternative facts’ and facts don’t matter as much, but the actual facts are there is very little prep time and very, very little time taking the tests themselves,” remarked Sigmund.

The Western New Yorkers for Public Education is calling students to ‘opt out’ of next week's ELA's and math assessments in May.   

The Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization (BPTO) issued a statement saying it "does not take a formal position on opting out" and "respect" a parent's right to decide if their child should take the tests.  

The following is the full statement submitted by the Buffalo-Parent Teacher Organization:

"The Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization (BPTO) does not take a formal position on opting out. As an organization, we respect a parent's right to make an informed choice on whether their children take state assessments or not and that this decision be made freely without judgment, imposition, and repercussion. Opting out of state assessments is a tactic grown out of opposition to the test and punish methods of decision-makers in Albany. Parents should know that state assessments are no longer used for admission to any criterion-based school.  In partnership with other stakeholders, we will continue to work toward advancing the New Education Bargain with Students and Families and providing what our students deserve." 
 

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