On June 17th, the Montclair Board of Education voted unanimously to support the Superintendent’s Strategic Plan, including the provision for Quarterly Assessments. Despite over 400 petition signatures by parents, verbal testimony from almost 20 parents and students, and more than 500 signatures on a student petition calling for a one year delay, the Board spoke in one voice to approve the plan.
Since that evening, parents, students, and other members of the community have approached us with confusion, concern and a desire for more information. We have decided to maintain the petition, and ask that community members sign the petition to register concern for the over-testing of our young people, and to support deferral of implementation until September 2014. Please visit Montclair Cares About Schools FB page for more announcements on a series of community conversations on education.
We are parents and community members of Montclair, New Jersey. We write because we believe in Montclair’s identity as a community of intellect, courage, collaboration, creativity and dedication to equity, and we believe that these values are reflected in a nationally respected, exemplary and desegregated school district. We understand that our district must comply with state and federal testing requirements. However, the Strategic Plan currently under consideration puts an undue emphasis on data-driven instruction above and beyond these requirements at the expense of the creativity and energy that are at the core of Montclair’s personality.
The Strategic Plan calls for the imposition of four district-wide common tests each and every year. These tests would be imposed on every child from kindergarten to 12th grade, and would impact math, reading, writing, science and social studies (See Goal 1, Objective 3). It calls for data from these tests to be used to shape instruction in ways that jeopardize teacher autonomy and student engagement (See Goal 1, Strategies 10 & 11).
This raises serious questions about the future of teaching and learning in the school district we love:
Will the imposition of these tests undermine the unique personality of each magnet school?
Will the imposition of these tests undermine the initiative and creativity of our best teachers?
Will data review geared towards competition undermine authentic teacher collaboration?
Will data review damage authentic learning opportunities for a wide variety of students?
To that end, we, the undersigned, urge the Montclair Board of Education to defer the adoption of district wide quarterly assessments that go above and beyond those mandated by the State of NJ for compliance with Common Core Curriculum for the 2013-2014 school year.