Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Breaking: 26 Teachers and Staff of International High School at Prospect Heights Campus in Brooklyn refuse to give NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test

Oy! Can I get up that early tomorrow to cover this? Well, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden plant sale is still on tomorrow and it's right across the street. Maybe I'll have some sleepy video for you by Friday. Much irony in that so many PEP meetings take place in this building.

CONTACT:          Emily Giles,, (917) 575-2936  
                         Emily Wendlake,, (413) 657-7255
                         Rosie Frascella,, (917) 767-1001
                         Anita Feingold-Shaw,, (510) 872-1712

**Media Advisory**
26 Teachers and Staff of International High School at Prospect Heights refuse to give NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test
WHEN: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:45-8:20am,

WHERE: International High School at Prospect Heights, 883 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225

WHAT: Teachers will hold a press conference to announce their refusal to administer the NYC ELA Performance Assessment. 26 teachers and staff at Prospect Heights International High School are refusing to administer a new assessment that is part of the new teacher evaluation system pushed by Bloomberg’s DOE and the UFT last spring.  50% of parents have opted their children out of the test. The high school serves almost exclusively recently arrived English Language Learners.  

WHY:  The test was constructed and formatted without any thought for the 14% of New York City students for whom English is not their first language. The level of English used in the pre-test administered in the Fall was so far above the level of our beginner ELLs that it provided little to no information about our students’ language proficiency or the level of their academic skills.

Furthermore, the test was a traumatic and demoralizing experience for students. Many students, after asking for help that teachers were not allowed to give, simply put their heads down for the duration.  Some students even cried.  

Teachers at Prospect Heights are drawing a line with this test.  Standardized, high stakes test dominate our schools, distort our curriculum and make our students feel like failures.  This test serves no purpose for the students,  and ultimately only hurts them.

26 Teachers have signed a letter to Chancellor Farina declaring that they will not give the exam.  The letter expresses gratitude for Farina’s immediate turn around of the DOE’s attitude toward teachers, and asks that the Chancellor reconsider the use of the NYC ELA Performance Assessment with English Language Learners.

WHO:  Teachers and support staff from the International High School at Prospect Heights.

RSVP: This event is open to press and coverage is welcome.

The International High School at Prospect Heights is a public high school located in Brooklyn, NY. Read their letter to Chancellor Farina at


Will the mainstream media - if they bother to pay attention - go after these teachers and ignore the issues being raised? Where will the UFT stand? Peter Goodman was whining on a list serve about this issue, urging moderation and for teachers to "encourage" the deformers to be reasonable.

MOREista and Change the Staker Jia Lee and 2 teachers from her elementary school also refused to give the tests. The Nation reported about their
--> "open letter from a group of “Teachers of Conscience” at the Earth School, an elementary school in Manhattan. Accompanied by a philosophical position paper detailing principles of a progressive education, the teachers declared their opposition to English language exams for third-to-eight graders." As did Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post.
Rosie and Emily Giles are active MOREistas. See video of Rosie at the Change the Stakes rally last week where in an off the cuff interview she elucidates the thinking of more and more teachers. Much of the test flux has come from elementary schools so it is important that this is coming from high school - there is a chain of international schools here in NYC that are linked and at some point this may spread.

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