Buffalo Public school parents are being asked to say 'Yes to the Test'. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the Buffalo District Parent Coordinating Council, educators, community advocates and High Achievement New York are urging students in grades 3-8 to take next week's ELA state assessment.
"So we don't have an option to say no. It is not an option,” declared CJ Banks, Buffalo school parent.
Banks has four children in Buffalo schools. Banks said he told his children they need to take the state ELA and Math tests in order to gage student performance.
“One of my sons asked me – ‘do I have to go and take the test’ and I was like ‘absolutely you have to take the test. I said, you know, it’s not an option – we have to know where you are and this is what I tell my son and we tell the kids and you know they might hear it differently from the teachers, but I tell my kids that we need to know where you are because if we know where you are, we know what we have to do to get you where we want to be,” Banks explained.
Despite lower scores in English and Math among city students, these advocates say that's exactly why the children need to take the assessments.
“There are forces out there right now who are fighting to take us back 50-years, take us back to where we don’t know where our children are at in comparison to other children in the state and in the country,” said Sam Radford, District Parent Coordinating Council.
"We’ve got a long way to go, so we’ve got to roll up our sleeves get the information we get from the test, make changes and adjustments, identify what problems there are and continue the progress,” said Radford.
Buffalo parent Patricia Elliott-Patton initially opted-out, but then realized her daughter's progress was not being tracked.
“When I found that she was a 7th grade student reading on a 3rd grade level because somebody wasn’t doing something in between that they needed to do. I realized there’s no way I could ever have this happen to my child again,” said Elliott-Patton.
Buffalo Urban League President Brenda McDuffie said the state tests actually help ensure equity in education for city school children.
“It’s to drive us to do much more, and we clearly have to do much more, to ensure that they are meeting a standard, and it’s going to be a standard that’s going to be so important to their economic wellbeing,” remarked McDuffie.
Over the last few years some parents and students in districts across the state have joined the 'opt out' movement, refusing to take the tests. However, ‘opt out’ rates have been much higher in the suburban districts the last few years then in the Buffalo School district.