State Testing and a Healthy Breakfast

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How parents can help their kids cope with upcoming standardized exams

By Helen Rosenthal

This week, thousands of 3rd-8th grade children in our community will take the New York state standardized exams, newly aligned with the Federal curriculum referred to as the "Common Core Standard" (CCS). However, NYC schools have not been given any formal curriculum materials that align with CCS - teachers have had to scramble to cobble together appropriate materials. Next year, the Departmen of Education (DOE) will provide schools and teachers the formal curriculum to meet the CCS.

If you see a disconnect between the idea of testing prior to teaching with a formal curriculum, you are not alone. Like many parents, I am concerned about the cost these high stake tests have on our children, teachers and schools. Needless to write, stress levels are through the roof.

I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Common Core initiative, and with what the new test results will mean which can be found on the EngageNY website. More detailed information and test guides from the New York State Education Department are available at, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the testing website.

On NPR's Brian Lehrer show today, DOE's Chief Academic Officer Shael Suransky announced that the department spent $1.25 million on teacher training, but upon closer examination, these funds went to "networks" which provided training to principals and designated teachers who, in turn, taught the teachers. In reality, I hear from parents throughout the district that each of their student's teachers is scrambling to find appropriate material to "teach to the test."

As standardized tests are becoming more rigorous and their impact having greater consequences (promotability, summer school, middle/high school acceptance), it is important that the voices of parents are heard. I encourage you to share your experience with the Alliance for Quality Education. The AQE is working to ensure that schools and teachers have the resources and professional development necessary to help all students meet the Common Core standards. Providing input as parents ensures that our insights are taken into account. We must continue to advocate for policies central to the education of our children. That starts with making our voices heard.

It's hard to keep testing in perspective - but we all know that our kids are much more than any one or two or any number of tests reflect.

I want to wish all of our students the very best as they prepare for the exam. And of course, don't underestimate the value of a good night's sleep and healthy breakfast!

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