Letter to Testing Families

March 28, 2014

Dear parents of third, fourth and fifth graders,

As you know, the English Language Arts test is next week—Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

You have probably heard about all the controversy of parents “opting out” of the test and all of the fear and wrangling that’s going on. If you haven’t, ask around and get up to speed on the current debate in education, because we are in historic times and you can empower yourself and our community with information.

To summarize, many families are taking the extraordinary step of refusing to have their child take the state test because they are worried that there is too much emphasis on the “high stakes” test.

I very much agree with why those families that are protesting—but I think that opting out is the wrong way to approach it. Tests, good and bad, are a part of life.

At our school, we make our own decisions about teacher evaluation and student promotion. Test scores are only a part of those decisions. Our relationships with students and all of the in-class data we collect weigh much more heavily. We put the tests in their proper perspective, and they only serve to confirm or enhance what we already know about how we are doing.

I know that our scholars are ready for the test. We won’t be perfect, but we are going to do our best and use the test to show how much we have learned.

I want you to know that we have a number of incentives for doing well on the state test. If students hit their target test scores, they get to attend the Laser Tag trip coming in the fall. But even better, if they try their hardest and do their best (they will judge that with their teachers’ help), no matter their score, they will have a special dress-down day and outdoor ice cream party on a sunny day later in April. We are more interested in effort and improvement than we are in going crazy over high stakes scores.

Please support your child to do his or her best—get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast and be ready to focus and attack that test like a tiger!

Sincerely,

Steven Evangelista
Principal

About Steve Evangelista

Steven Evangelista is the co-founder of Harlem Link Charter School. He is a native New Yorker with a bachelors degree in Psychology from Georgetown University and a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Bank Street College.
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