(The email copied in the post below was authored by Jean Holybrice, a public school parent in Fort Greene. It was originally posted in Medium and titled, “New Yorkers Opt In.”)
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That’s a rule many live by, but it rings especially true in our schools.
That’s why this week, my family is joining hundreds of thousands of others across New York State in saying yes to the test. My son, along with so many of his peers, are opting-in and taking the English Language Arts state assessments this week because I know how critical these exams are for measuring gains and gaps in our schools.
See, my kids used to attend PS 67 in Brooklyn, but they don’t go there anymore. Why? Well only 15% of students in the school passed the state math test. Through the exam results, I saw clearly that the school wasn’t preparing my children — or most of the students for that matter — to succeed. These results convinced me that I need to transfer my son and daughter out of this failing school.
I find it a little offensive when parents in some communities in New York trash the tests, or opt-out of having their children participate. How can we improve if we don’t know where we need improvement? How can we ensure our children are prepared for their future if we’re not measuring what they have learned in the past? How can we hold school and political leaders accountable if we don’t have clear, fair assessments to gauge results?
When parents were unhappy with testing in the past, leaders in Albany listened and improved the exams. Now today, where I live in New York City, 98% of families participate in the state test. Full participation is so important because it gives all of us the necessary information to hold leaders accountable and make the best choices for our children.
And lastly, let me just remind you this is New York. We don’t opt-out. We work hard, we seek progress, we move forward, and we engage. This week, I hope you’ll join me and parents and students across New York and say yes to the test.