NYC High School Teachers Refuse to Administer Test
May 1, 2014 · by Change the Stakes · Bookmark the permalink. ·
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday May 1st, 2014
Contacts: Janine Sopp, firstname.lastname@example.org, (917) 541-6062
Emily Wendlake, email@example.com, (413) 657-7255
Emily Giles, firstname.lastname@example.org, (917) 575-2936
Rosie Frascella, email@example.com, (917) 767-1001
Anita Feingold-Shaw, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 872-1712
Teachers and Staff at International High School at Prospect Heights refuse to administer the NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test
New York – On Thursday, May 1, 2014, most of the teachers at International High School at Prospect Heights gathered on the steps of their school to announce that they will not give the NYC English Language Arts Performance Assessment Exam. More than 50% of parents have opted their students out of taking the test, and 30 teachers and staff refused to administer the exam citing professional and ethical concerns. Approximately 95% of the students at IHSPH are English Language Learners. Thirty-five percent of students are classified as Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE), meaning they have missed more than one year of school.
The test is not used for promotion and does not factor into student grades. The test has not been aligned to assess English Language Learners and will be used exclusively for the purpose of evaluating teachers.
Teachers are refusing to give the test todaybecause they say it was constructed and formatted without any thought for the 14% of New York City students for whom English is not their first language. Teresa Edwards-Lasose, a parent who opted her student out, said, “The test is meaningless. He (her child) doesn’t read and write enough English yet to do the test and it doesn’t count for his grades. Why should he take it?”
The level of English used on the exam is so far above the language levels of the school’s recent immigrant student population that it provides little or no information about their language or academic proficiencies. Despite students’ best efforts and determination, the vast majority of them received zero points.
Anita Feingold-Shaw, a 9th and 10th grade English teacher at IHSPH said, “This test doesn’t benefit students, but it definitely hurts them and that feels unfair.” Many of the students that took the test in the fall did not yet read or write in English. And yet, this test asked them to read pages and pages with no translation support and write an argumentative essay in English.
“I watched students just put their heads down and give up. A few students even cried,” says Emily Wendlake, another 9th and 10th grade English teacher at the school. “Testing experiences like this make our students feel like failures, and that school is not for them. We feel the consequences in our classes for the rest of the year.”