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Harrison Superintendent Responds to Testing Protests

HARRISON, N.Y. – Harrison schools Superintendent Louis Wool said that he understands why parents protested field testing outside of a school in Tarrytown Thursday and said there is validity to it.

A loose coalition of parent groups throughout Westchester and Rockland counties are joined together to protest the state's field testing, which took place at the end of May and beginning of June. The group includes Westchester districts such as Scarsdale, Ossining, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Harrison, Hastings and the Tarrytowns.

“Field testing is an important part of ensuring that there is validity to any assessments that are administered to our students,” Wool said. “However, I fully understand the extraordinary frustration that parents are feeling based on the voluminous and inappropriate number of state assessments being forced upon our students with little concern for their social, emotional or academic development.”

Wool and the administration have been critical of state testing since it was implemented this year, saying that the new assessments and new teacher evaluation system the state mandated is disrespectful to students.

“However, I do believe that there is value in ensuring that tests are carefully field-tested and I encourage parents to allow their children to participate in these field tests, and to refocus their energy on making the state fully aware of their displeasure at the number, length and validity with which the current assessment system is being implemented,” Wool said.

Parent groups say field testing takes away valuable classroom instruction time, especially because the testing is only used to try out questions for future state assessments. Some parents in the group have started online petitions that they plan to deliver to the New York State Education Department. Others organized testing boycotts and had students refuse to take the tests.

Parents in other areas of New York are denouncing the tests as well. More than 300 protesters gathered outside Pearson PLC in New York City last week.

A spokesperson for Pearson North America referred questions to the New York State Education Department, which did not return a request for comment.

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