Editor’s Note: This guest column was written by Adam Piasecki, president of the Ithaca Teachers’ Association.

To submit a guest column to the Ithaca Voice, email me at jstein@ithacavoice.com.


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Why I Shop Downtown

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

As many of you are aware, the high stakes New York state ELA and Mathematics tests for 3rd through 8th grade students will begin on April 14, 2015. Parents who decide it is not in their child’s best interests to take commercially prepared state tests are part of an “Opt-Out” movement that is growing nationally and in New York state. Although individual teachers are unable to advise parents on opting-out of the state tests, we feel it is pertinent to share with you your rights regarding these tests and share some information to help you become better informed about testing. We understand that this is a personal, family decision and we support the decision you feel is in the best interest of your child.

Parents and caregivers have the right to refuse their child’s participation in these high stakes state tests. Students who do not participate in state tests will not face disciplinary action nor will their non-participation impact their academic record. Families who choose to opt-out of state tests are required to submit a letter to their child’s principal and to confirm with the principal the alternative procedure for their child on testing days. Parents have the right to insist that their child will not participate in state tests regardless of whether or not an alternative procedure is in place.

The Ithaca Teachers Association supports a parent’s right to refuse the high stakes state standardized tests if the parent believes that the testing is not in the best interest of their child. Additionally, the Ithaca Teachers Association believes that students should not be subject to “sit and stare” policies and we endorse the creation of alternative settings for students who do not participate in the state tests.

For more information about high stakes testing and opting-out, you may visit the following websites:


Education experts agree that the overuse of standardized testing is harmful to education and that these test results are not an accurate measure of student learning or of the quality of teachers or schools. While the New York State Education Department’s overreliance on standardized testing creates unfortunate consequences for our students, teachers, principals, and schools, please know that we value your children as more than test scores.

— Sincerely,

Adam Piasecki

President, Ithaca Teachers Association

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.