Watch: Comsewogue School District Rallies Against Common Core, State Testing

More than a thousand people attended Saturday's 'Students, Not Scores' rally at Comsewogue High School.

Video: Students, Not Scores Rally, Aug. 17, 2013 (Credit: Christine Sampson)

Before the results of the New York State exams for school children in grades three through eight were even administered, Department of Education officials predicted that scores would plummet dramatically this year – specifically, that only 30 to 37 percent of students would pass those tests.

That's exactly what happened, and that was just one problem that ticked off Comsewogue superintendent Dr. Joe Rella the week that the test scores were released earlier this month.

Following a letter Rella sent to state lawmakers – a letter that went viral across not just Long Island but across the country – he and his colleagues at Comsewogue convened a rally dubbed "Students, Not Scores" on Saturday to protest the testing process and the Common Core curriculum on which it is based.

State officials have said the Common Core curriculum, a national standard for education adopted by more than 40 states, is designed to boost and measure college and career readiness. In an Aug. 7 statement, Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said: "Our former standards did not prepare all of our students for 21st century college and careers."

However, Rella said the state rushed into implementing the Common Core curriculum and the new, more rigorous state tests without giving enough time for the teachers and students to adjust.

"Any test designed to have 70 percent of the children taking it fail is abusive," Rella said Saturday. 

Along with local and state leaders including Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association president Beth Dimino, state teachers' union president Dick Ianuzzi, former county legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher, State Assemb. Steve Englebright, D-Setauket, and State Assemb. Al Graf, R,C-Holbrook, Rella called for the state to reform or drop the Common Core curriculum and tests. More than a thousand parents, teachers and students at the rally joined him in saying: "Stop it, fix it or scrap it."

"Only together do we have a shot at this," he said.

Were you at the rally? What's your position on the Common Core and state testing? Log into Patch and share your thoughts as a comment below.
David Rebori August 18, 2013 at 07:31 PM
While I couldn't attend the rally, just by watching the clip, Dr. Rella certainly got the point across once again: STUDENTS. NOT SCORES! Dr. Rella should be given all the credit he can possibly receive for what he has done to stop the nonsense with state testing!
Jim August 18, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Dr. Rella, How about a decent education for some of your students and can you please, maybe, just maybe get them college ready please. Instead of holding rallies, maybe you should be working on this!!! Our education system is turning into a farce. No wonder the U.S. is ranked 25th in the world in education. #1 in taxes but 25th in education
Karen O'Mara Swett August 19, 2013 at 12:31 AM
#1 in taxes? Not by a long shot!!
Jim August 19, 2013 at 08:45 AM
Karen, what we pay per student is record setting. You must be a teacher
Robert Makofsky August 19, 2013 at 08:53 AM
The system is broken. Set higher standards and work toward them through study, discussion, skill building, activities, and accountability. Accept defeat with a good attitude and work to improve what needs to be improved. Feel good practices and self esteem building at the cost of learning that acquiring knowledge and training is no easy task has undermined our education system. Return to the fundamentals and we can begin to fix what is boken.
Jeff August 19, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Hey Jim, Do you have children in the district? I have two. Dr. Rella and his team do a great job. It's not only about the staff it begins with the PARENTS... He did not have the rally. It was because of parents that this rally was held. He attended - sure, but it was not his idea.
Fred August 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM
I see the point that Dr Rella is making, but how can we hold these educators accountable without testing? Then again, maybe that's the idea.
Christine Sampson (Editor) August 19, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Hi Fred, I realize this is not mentioned in this story because it's kind of a separate issue, but the state has in place a set of standards for reviewing educators' performance in the classroom. It's called APPR - "annual professional performance review," and each school district was required to adopt an APPR policy in 2012 and begin implementing it in 2013.
Joan Nickeson August 19, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Thanks, Christine, for your clarity on topic. This rally was meant to, among other things, bring to the forefront the problems with the Common Core tests, including misleading questions and language, and lack of uniform grading system. Add to this the financial costs, and students being robbed of LEARNING in the classroom, for which we should be using tax dollars. A clarity of purpose for education should grow from this. A question we could ask, regardless of these tests, is, 'What is the purpose of education and are we willing to make changes?' Do all residents want the same things? I bet dollars to doughnuts folks who complain and compare the performance of U.S. students in mathematics, let's say, to that of Korea or Finland, will find vast differences in what parents and school boards and administrators think are important in those countries, and what they are willing to pay, or sacrifice to get their students attaining higher academic levels. You can't compare apples to oranges.
Fred August 19, 2013 at 01:13 PM
thank you for info Christine, in addition to educator performance though, we need to gauge our students progress. I'm sure we can do it more efficiently, but I for one am tired of the blame game. NYS blames the districts, the district blames the state, parents, teachers, unions and schools boards all blame each other. Meanwhile, our students are falling behind and our taxes are skyrocketing. When I figure out who really is fault, I'll join the rally
Joan Nickeson August 19, 2013 at 08:14 PM
A friend found this, I'd like to share. It is worth reading all the way through. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/12/how-come-officials-could-predict-results-on-new-test-scores/
g judson August 21, 2013 at 02:50 PM


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