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A Response To Commissioner Mills' New York State Report Card

Commissioner Mills says:
Even with five Regents exams now required, more students are taking and passing the test at 65 or higher each year.

Let's break this down.
The Commissioner says that more students are taking the tests each year. Since every New York State high school student* MUST NOW TAKE 5 REGENTS exams to earn a high school diploma, this statement is like saying that more people are recycling than ever before in New York City. This is true, but now people are now required to do so by law.

So, yes, more students ARE taking the exam. They have no choice. It's required.

Mills is also saying: that more kids are passing at 65. This is also obvious. Since more kids are taking the test, more kids WOULD PASS at 65 (compared to a time when fewer kids were both taking the test and scoring 65). However, more kids than ever before are also failing. And more students than ever are dropping out.

Commissioner Mills fails to point out that in the current high stakes testing environment, thousands of students are leaving school even BEFORE they take the exams. If students leave before October of their junior year in high school, they are not counted in the dropout data for their school.**

Commissioner Mills says:
More students are earning Regents diplomas.

If Mills means that more students are earning Regents diplomas by taking 8 regents exams (3 more than they have to take), this might seem like a sign of success. However, we know that high performing districts - like Scarsdale, Bronxville, Bedford Hills, Croton Harmon, and others across the State of New York did not in the past require students to take any Regents exams (these districts had more rigorous and effective ways of accountability). Now that these same high performing districts are REQUIRED to give the Regents exams, it is common sense that the number of students earning a Regents diploma would increase.

Commissioner Mills says:
The high school graduation rate remains stable in the face of higher standards.

A good deal of research refutes this statement.** According to three major studies, New York State has the lowest graduation rate in the Northeast and Midwest combined. Researcher Walter Haney ranks New York State 45th in the nation for the percentage of high school students graduated. Only Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee rank lower.

Commissioner Mills fails to mention entirely the impact that the high stakes Regents testing policy has had on students of color in New York State.

According to Harvard Civil Rights Project and the Urban Institute, New York State has the lowest graduation rate in the nation for both African-American and Hispanics at 35.1% and 31.9% respectively.

* Independent schools do NOT give the Regents exams. They graduate their students using a combination of grades, courses taken, and school determined assessments. A growing number of parochial schools have also withdrawn from giving Regents exams.

** For clarification of this see fact sheets titled: High School Cohort Definition in New York State and the Data Fact Sheet.

Red Alert!
Let's Opt Out of the April 2014 NYS Tests

Parents can refuse to allow their child to take the State high stakes tests. Hand in this letter to your principal [other formats: .pdf .odt .doc]. En Español: [otros formatos: .pdf .odt .doc] Send your child to school and ask that an alternative activity be planned for him/her during the 6 days of testing.

Information for Parents who want to Opt Out:

Feel free to duplicate these flyers and give them to other parents!

We also have a magazine explaining Common Core, High Stakes Testing, and InBloom to parents. Varios artículos de esta revista fueron traducidos a Español.

Opt Out New York
New material to support the April Boycott.
Please share this Powerpoint!
Developed by a Long Island parent.

Join the TOFT mailing list:

Did You Know?
Did you know that charter schools in New York City enroll fewer students who qualify for free lunch and fewer homeless students?

Music Video: "Not on the Test"
Produced by: Public School Test Records and Grammy Award-winner Tom Chapin

produced by Naava Katz Design