ICC rejects testing request

District declines to have younger students take state ‘field tests’

KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane Central School District Board of Education has decided not to have students in 3rd through 8th grades take the field tests that the state Education Department has asked the district to administer. The decision was announced at the at the board meeting Tuesday night, May 5.

High school students will take the state field tests since, according to high school Principal Craig Shull, some of the questions on these tests do end up on state Regents exams.

The state asks certain schools to take the field tests, which are only for practice and supply the state with data about the test questions. The tests have questions that may be on the Common Core state exams similar to the ones students took last month. Ichabod was asked to take the 40-minute tests in English Language Arts and math field tests last year and the district sent the tests back to the state with a letter from schools Superintendent George Zini, saying they would not take the practice tests. But the state has again asked the district to take the tests this year.

“It’s wasted time,” Mr. Zini said at this week’s board meeting. He said that students in the primary and elementary schools have already taken state Common Core exams in those subjects over six days last month. “I think it’s more important to have the time in the classroom,” he told the board.

Mr. Zini also pointed out that almost 70% of the students in those grades refused to take the Common Core test and he assumed those same parents would refuse to have their children take the field tests.

He said there was no benefit to the school to add these practice tests for the 3rd through 8th graders. “The benefit is to Pearson,” he said, referring to the multi-national company that designs the state Common Core tests and the curriculum used to teach the new Common Core standards.

Currently, Mr. Zini said, there have been no negative repercussions for the district refusing the field tests.

High school students will take the field tests in geometry, algebra and Earth science. The students also take Regents exams in those subjects. “It’s a practice,” said Mr. Shull, who talked to the teachers in those subjects about the extra exams. He said that the teachers told him that questions on the tests exams have shown up on the Regents exams.

“This is the state, not Pearson,” he told the board, saying that field tests eventually help with the design of the Regents exams, which are not created by Pearson.

The student member of the board, Samantha Hesler, said that she had taken the field tests in math class. “It was relatively stress free,” she also told the board. “I found it was good practice.”

Board member John Chandler said that he agreed students in the lower grades should not take the test, but that having the high school students take the test could mean the district was complicit in a testing system that did not value students’ education.

In a related matter, Mr. Zini updated the board on the APPR, or Annual Professional Performance Review, which may involve outside evaluators rating teachers’ performance. The state is making changes to the original APPR standards. Mr. Zini said the plan was to have the state make changes to the plan in June and then inform the districts, which will then have to have their new APPR plans to the state in September for approval in November. If the plans are not approved, the district could lose state funding.

Mr. Zini said that as of now test scores were still part of the evaluation for teachers as well as having someone other than the district’s building principal do the evaluation. “It just makes no sense,” he said of the current evaluation plans.

Also at the meeting:

  • The board tabled the consent agenda since there were only five board members present and one, Barbara-anne Johnson-Heimroth abstained. The agenda included new hires for the music teacher, physical education and English Language Learners
  • The lack of board members also resulted in the board being unable to accept a bid for general construction on a capital improvement project; board member Jeffrey Ouellette abstained, saying he had a business relationship with one or more of the bidders
  • Mr. Zini told the board the district is updating some safety issues, including locks on the high school doors and a swipe ID system to open doors in the school buildings. He also said the district will have virtual building tour which will be used by administrators and emergency responders. Pictures of each room and hallway in the district will be place on a secure site.

The board announced the annual budget hearing will be Tuesday, May 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school library. Candidates running for the board will attend the meeting. There are five people running for three seats: Regina Rose, Tracy Farrell, Barbara-anne Johnson-Heimroth, Matthew Nelson and John Antalek.

The next regular board meeting is Tuesday, June 2 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email     

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