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.
Buffalo Police have arrested 26-year-old Nicholas Finnegan of South Buffalo and charged him with pushing Russ Ross to his death.
Buffalo police homicide detectives are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred early Saturday morning.
Police say there were 32 burglaries, 20 in Albion, five in Medina, four in Oakfield and three in the City of Lockport.
The Niagara County Sheriff's responded to Saunders Settlement Road near Comstock in Cambria Friday night after receiving a tip about a suspected meth lab.
Volunteers at Buffalo’s Salvation Army created holiday cards and gift bags for the seniors at the Golden Age Center.
Call 4 Action looked into claims this week that members of BJ's Wholesale Club were paying too much on sales tax on some deeply discounted items.