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Pleasantville Schools Push Back On 'High Risk' Tests

Pleasantville Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter, right, and Board of Education President Lois Winkler are working with the rest of the school board to advocate against standardized testing.
Pleasantville Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter, right, and Board of Education President Lois Winkler are working with the rest of the school board to advocate against standardized testing. Photo Credit: Robert Michelin

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- The Pleasantville Board of Education is just about fed up with the state's mandatory standardized testing.

"It has no benefit to our students here," said Board of Education member Larry Boes. "So why would we do it?"

The Board of Education discussed a resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday night at Pleasantville High School that takes a stance of advocacy for the Board against what the district calls "high risk testing," and calls for the help of local and state government to develop a new assessment system.

Boes and the rest of the Board of Education said that the current system of standardized testing, which plays a significant role in teacher evaluation through the Advanced Professional Performance Review system, is only detrimental to the students and district.

"The testing takes an emotional toll on our students and a  cost toll on our district," Boes said. "It doesn't make any difference to our district other than making us spend money."

Boes estimated that the district spends about $120,000 a year on costs related to standardized testing in grades K-12.

Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter and Board of Education President Lois Winkler said that the district has actively reached out to parents and community members to see their stance on the issue. The district said that about 75 percent of the feedback they received was in favor of getting rid of the current system.

Fox-Alter said she believed the current system in relation to teacher evaluation was flawed due to its basis on a growth model of students and not an achievement model.

"It's sometimes difficult to comprehend because the system is about growth," Fox-Alter said. "If you already are achieving at a high level, then where is the room for growth?"

Boes said that the resolution, which can be found online , is a way to let the higher powers within the government know that Pleasantville is displeased and hoping for change. The district has no power to implement a completely local testing system.

"We want to let them know that we care, and are concerned," Boes said.

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