Monday, April 23, 2012
For immediate release:
Nyack, NY
Parent advocates with Restore Education Funding based in Nyack, NY have been working with district officials to clarify the implementation details of the assessment mandates for the 2012/2013 school year. Federal Race to the Top requirements along with New York State teacher evaluation mandates will result in a dramatic increase in the number of assessments that will have to be administered to school children in the next school year. Many other districts are working through the complex, shifting and incomplete regulations and will soon be announcing similar schedules.
According to preliminary estimates, the costs for these unfunded mandates for the districts in Rockland County will add up to $10 million over a four-year period.
Parents are very concerned about the disruption to the instructional calendar, the stress of age-inappropriate testing schedules, lack of evidence for the efficacy of the testing tools being rushed into schools and the enormous costs in the context of our current budget crisis.
Below is a summary of tests being rolled out beginning in September 2012. Please see the attached spreadsheet (test matrix V2.xlsx) for details on test descriptions.
Kindergarten, First and Second Grade - increasing from 0 tests per year to 20 tests per year!
  • 6 Math and Reading RTTI screenings
  • 14 Student Learning Objective tests (two tests for each subject area e.g., Art, Music, Physical Education, English, Math, Reading and Special Ed).
Third Grade – increasing from 2 tests to 16 tests
  • 6 Math and Reading RTTI screenings
  • 1 State ELA
  • 1 State Math
  • 10 Student Learning Objective tests (two for each subject area not currently covered by State tests)

Fourth Grade – increasing from 3 tests to 17 tests
  • 6 Math and Reading RTTI screenings
  • 1 State ELA
  • 1 State Math
  • 1 State Science
  • 8 Student Learning Objective tests (two for each subject area not currently covered by State tests)
Fifth Grade – increasing from 2 tests to 18 tests
  • 6 Math and Reading RTTI screenings
  • 1 State ELA
  • 1 State Math
  • 10 Student Learning Objective tests (two for each subject area not currently covered by State tests)

Sixth Grade – increasing from 3 tests to 23 tests
  • 1 State ELA
  • 1 State Math
  • 1 State Science
  • 20 Student Learning Objective tests (two for each subject area not currently covered by State tests)
For more detail, see the attached spreadsheet that lists the new tests that will be administered from 7th grade to 12th grade.
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Media contact:
Angela Bernhardt
Restore Education Funding
http://nyack-ref.wikispaces.com/REF+home
845-367-3754
angbernhardt@gmail.com






2/25/2012
For immediate release:
Nyack, NY
Real Answers to Real Questions – School Funding and Taxes
A group of local parents, calling themselves Restore Education Funding (REF), have organized a community forum to be held on March 1st at 7pm at the Nyack Center, 58 Depew Ave. in Nyack. These parents have spent months absorbing the complex information around state and federal assessment, evaluation and funding policy. REF now wants to disseminate the information widely in our communities so parents have a clear understanding of the crisis we are facing. Nyack Schools have a 1/2 million dollar budget deficit this year, but that is just the beginning of a funding problem that is projected to grow dramatically each year if something does not change.
Speakers will provide an overview of federal and state assessment policy (two new sets of standardized tests coming next year, more in following years) and the budget implications to our district and taxes of these unfunded mandates. Proposals on progressive revisions to property tax policy will be reviewed to examine how we can advocate for property tax relief and full funding of our schools.
Attendees will learn about the new math and reading screening tests that will be administered to all students three times a year starting in September 2012. Also this September, the district is required to roll out the new Student Learning Objective tests, which will expand the current battery of ELA and Math tests to every subject. This means, for the 2012/2013 school year, a middle school student may need to take up to ten additional standardized tests in addition to the current ELA and Math tests. Additional speakers will address the negative impact of multiple standardized tests on the classroom environment, school culture, students and teachers.
State legislators will be in attendance to answer questions and hear requests from the audience members following the presentations.
According to the REF parents, they see no evidence that the federal and state assessment requirements are being coordinated. Policy is being made without an understanding of the combined burden these fast, furious and expensive changes are placing on our communities. And these mandated assessment programs are very expensive to implement. At a time when the district has already lost a great deal of state and federal funding, and a property tax cap is in place, where will the funding come from to pay for these tests? REF fears district leadership will have no choice but to increase class size and consider cutting anything that is not deemed mandatory by New York State, which means music, art, sports and Kindergarten.
Communities across New York State and the country are beginning to realize what is happening and have started organizing to make their concerns known. This event on March 1st is an opportunity for members of the community to gather, learn the facts and make informed decisions about actions that can be taken together.
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Media contact:
Angela Bernhardt
845-367-3754
angbernhardt@gmail.com

List of speakers at the event:
Moderator - Harriet Cornell, Rockland County Legislator
Judith Johnson – Retired Superintendent, Peekskill City School District and Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary & Secondary Education in the US Department of Education in the Clinton administration.
Dr. James Montesano - Nyack School District Superintendent
NYS Assembly members Ellen Jaffe and Ken Zebrowski
NYS Senator David Carlucci