FW: FYI - Another Voice: Instill lifelong learning, not test-taking, in students - Opinion - The Buffalo News
- Instill lifelong learning, not test-taking, in students
By NYS Senator Tim Kennedy
Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner William Butler Yeats once said, "Education
is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." Learning is not a
destination, but a journey. Attending school is not just about high-stakes
tests, but about setting our young people on a path to be lifelong learners.
Ten years ago, New York State third-graders were required to take 625
minutes of state exams, which is a lot of time for kids that age. This year,
the state rolled out another round of exams that require kids from grades
three through eight to sit through a whopping 3,200 minutes worth of tests.
Every day, I hear from parents and teachers about the damaging effects of
these high-pressure, high-stakes tests. Children are losing out on
instructional time in all subjects, from science to foreign languages.
I've heard stories of little children coming home crying, anxious about the
consequences of scoring poorly on tests. Dedicated, talented teachers are
being pushed to the brink by the stress placed on them to ensure every
student performs at his or her peak when the all-important tests are put in
front of them.
Every teacher I know believes that testing has its place, but what teachers
and parents are saying in unison is simple: Let's get it right.
The implementation of these tests has been problematic. The educators, who
have been trying to prepare students and implement the high-stakes tests,
tell me the support they've received has been less than stellar. Teachers,
students and parents have not been given the time to fully cover the state's
new, more rigorous curriculum.
Additionally, I am encouraging the department to give a full account of the
time and money - millions of taxpayer dollars - spent on standardized tests,
some of which are developed by commercial entities. And we should shift the
focus from imposing hours and hours of tests on young children, to
encouraging growing and learning. The Truth About Testing package that I am
co-sponsoring in the Senate would advance these goals.
My parents had a simple philosophy for raising kids - they told us to work
hard and focus on our education. That's a philosophy my wife and I are
committed to sharing with our children, but I believe a "focus on education"
means a focus on learning, not just testing. Over-testing and over-stressing
children undercuts what every parent and teacher wants: to light a fire of
learning that will last a lifetime.
Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, represents the 63rd District in the New York State