ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) - Twenty busses will leave Western New York bright and early Saturday morning, bound for a "Rally Against Testing" on the steps of the State Capitol in Albany.
Todd Hathaway of the East Aurora Faculty Association said, "Roughly 10,000 teachers, parents and community members will be rallying; opposing standardized testing, looking to return local control to school boards."
The local contingent includes faculty from East Aurora, Iroquois, Eden, West Seneca, Orchard Park and other school districts. West Seneca Superintendent Dr. Mark Crawford is one of the speakers who will address the crowd.
"There is no timely and useful feedback that we get from the test. All anyone learns is that a child is a 1, 2, 3 or 4," Dr. Crawford argued.
Critics say the tests fail to pinpoint students' strengths and weaknesses, and that testing can't measure teacher effectiveness. There is far more to quality teaching and teachers, Dr. Crawford says, than just a simple number.
"The kind word they had, or the role model they were for you; or the way they helped you get through a problem, a tough time in your life," he said.
Standardized testing is also breaking the bank. Districts are receiving less funding, and more mandates.
East Aurora, for example, had to re-allocate $100,000 it had been spending directly on student programs to implement testing and teacher evaluations during the 2012-13 school year. As a result, students are left with diminished options.
Hathaway said, "Last year, at East Aurora High School, they cut 17 classes. That was almost 20 percent of our curriculum. Because of the kind of twin terrors of the tax cap and these new imposed mandates for testing."
Ralliers are asking state lawmakers to pass three bills, including one that would stop all standardized tests until their costs, benefits and drawbacks can be fully studied.
"Enact legislation that puts a moratorium on student testing that is inappropriate, in this way," Hathaway urged.
Among Western New York lawmakers, only Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Tim Kennedy have signed onto the "Truth About Testing Act" bill as co-sponsors.
Dr. Crawford said, "The focus shouldn't be just on the testing. Testing should be something that happens in the course of a year, but it shouldn't be the main event."
The other bills include one sponsored by Senator Mark Grisanti, aimed at protecting students' private information , and the "Stop Unnecessary K-2 Testing" bill, which would end diagnostic tests in Kindergarten through Grade 2.
A Town of Tonawanda restaurant owner has been arrested and charged with strangulation and assault.
A house became engulfed in flames on Route 243, in Rushford, early Wednesday morning.
Law enforcement agencies in El Paso County, Colorado have made an arrest in the hit-and-run death of a western New York native.
The Thruway Authority is asking drivers to avoid I-90 between the Hamburg and Dunkirk exits. Motorists are asked to avoid the area because of traffic and visibility.
Lakes will remain active on and off through the weekend.
One third of Canadians receive their mail straight to their door but that will soon be changing. Canada Post will phase out their door-to-door delivery over the next five years.