Rochester school board member Willa Powell among parents rejecting tests

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School districts across the state will begin administering standardized English Language Arts tests next week to students in third through eighth grades. The following week, students will begin taking math and science tests. But not every student will participate, including the son of Rochester school board member Willa Powell.

Powell's son is a student at School 23 in the Park Avenue neighborhood.

Powell is among a group of parents in the Rochester region who have counseled their children on how to respectfully refuse to take the test. Powell will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. today at the Ryan Center, 530 Webster Avenue, joined by other Monroe County parents who are taking the same stand.

In a telephone interview earlier today, Powell said her son has already been given enough assessment tests. And she said she knows he's performing at grade level.

“I want parents to know that they have a choice,” she said. “These tests do not measure what a child has learned in class; they contain material taught in the Common Core curriculum, and the Common Core has not been fully implemented yet.”

New York is one of more than 40 states rolling out the Common Core, which is meant to implement a uniform curriculum. Students will need to demonstrate what may be a higher level of proficiency in subject matter at every grade level.

But Powell said that the upcoming set of tests is not assessing her son’s grasp of English and math; the tests are more likely to be used by the state to create a benchmark for future tests, she said.

Powell is also protesting the fact that data from the state exams, including personal student information, is being forwarded to corporations in the private sector, such as inBLOOM, without prior parental consent. Pearson, the company that helped to develop the Common Core, also publishes the tests.

Powell said she does not recommend that parents keep their children home from school on testing days, and she said that she is not against all standardized tests.

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