Board Spars Over Testing Resolution

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Members of Port Washington's Vikings football team attended the School Board meeting and were lauded for their strong season.
Members of Port Washington’s Vikings football team attended the School Board meeting and were lauded for their strong season.

After a spirited debate punctuated by a couple of jabs, the Port Washington Board of Education opted not to adopt a resolution condemning a controversial testing system imposed by the state.

In a poll taken among the seven members, five were in favor of the resolution and two were opposed. The measure did not carry because Board President Karen Sloan said the move, which she called a “philosophical” resolution, should have a unanimous vote. Board members Alan Baer and Vernon McDermott voted against the resolution.

Instead, the board opted to work on a letter it will send to Commissioner of Education, John King, the state Board of Education and legislators.

The testing, which is seen as more rigorous and anxiety producing among students, has actually been around since the school year 2005 to 2006. But when it was placed on top of the new “common core” competency way of teaching that took effect last year, it created difficulties for students and teachers because they are still getting used to the new standards.

The board members debated for nearly an hour at last week’s meeting, over something they have been considering doing since last spring. Other local districts, including Great Neck and Syosset, have adopted resolutions, but the Port board could not come to a consensus on what theirs would contain or its effectiveness.

It would be like “tilting at windmills” to submit something to the New York State Education Department, Board member William Hohauser said.

But other board members were more strident especially, as a couple of them put it, some nearby districts “cleaned our clock” when test scores were compared in certain subjects.

Board member Larry Greenstein was the most vocal in condemning the testing system, saying it causes great anxiety among students, is ill-designed and takes months to get back to teachers. “I believe we can get something better,” Greenstein said.

Because of the state’s testing system, “I believe they have lost the trust of the parents,” Greenstein said.

Hohauser replied: “My good friend Larry is channeling Oliver Stone a little with his distrust of the state education system.”

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