Teachers Talk Testing grew out of the PS 321 Testing Task Force. The Testing Task Force is a group of parents and teachers coming together to extend community-wide dialogue on the impacts of federal, state, and NYC Department of Ed policies in the daily life of our children and teachers. In the past ten years, New York City schools have implemented more tests across more grades then at any other point in the school system's history. Concerned parents of 321 children believe that the increase in testing has had and will continue to have negative effects, including unintended consequences, that affect all children in NYC schools. Our teachers face increased pressure to teach to the test. Our children feel increased pressure to perform. Our school curriculum is being narrowed by the overwhelming focus on ELA and Math at the expense of other school subjects.
We are not against testing! We believe tests are extremely useful, if they are valid and used thoughtfully and carefully as true measures of student learning and growth. We are concerned that more and more focus on standardized testing is determining curriculum, teaching practices, and the day to day experience of our children as learners in school. And, we are concerned that an increase in testing can result in less rigor and fewer possibilities for deep intellectual inquiry across all content areas.
One thing that became clear during the Testing Task Force meetings is that teachers are being impacted in many ways, and many parents do not realize the toll high stakes testing is taking on our teachers. The more we talked in our meetings, the more we felt that teachers stories needed to be told...and Teachers Talk Testing was conceived.