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Rebellion?: Hamburg Schools To "re-examine" mandated State Tests

(WBEN) As several districts face a growing number of parents who are keeping their children out of the standardized achievement tests, a Hamburg school board member tells WBEN she stands ready to introduce a policy asking the district to re-examine whether they should take part in the state-mandated program.

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Sally Stephenson, a Hamburg school board member,  says as soon as the district completes it's budget negotiations next month, she will ask her colleagues to vote on a measure to re-examine the entire examination process.

" I am going to take a stand.. to tell the board you better look at this," Stephenson said appearing on WBEN's Hardline program.

 She has concerns about the privacy issues involved with scoring, and feels that grades that follows a student in such a public way is not right.

Earlier this month, board member Holly Balaya kept her children home from mandated testing in the Hamburg district, as part of a protest over the costs. 

Balaya says that the districts that can afford to purchase the prep materials from Pearson Educational Services,  the same company that produced the tests do better. That puts districts that are eyeing budget cuts at a distinct dis-advantage, she says.

Pearson is under investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, after it was discovered they may have paid to send officials and lawmakers to education conferences — in London, Helsinki, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro — since 2008, according to the New York Times.

Hamburg is one of several districts where the pushback is being seen in fewer numbers of students sitting for the tests.  Springville Griffith Institute saw a six-fold increase in students "opting out" this year.  Similar rising numbers are also reported on Grand Island and in West Seneca. 

For years, teachers groups have railed against the testing, saying it puts a focus on the test, and not on critical skills.  The tests are a major part of how the federal and state governments allocate funding for districts, and have also become the centerpiece of the state's new teacher evaluation program.

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Topics : Education
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Locations : HamburgHelsinkiLondonRio De Janeiro
People : Eric SchneidermanHolly BalayaSally Stephenson