A Connecticut professor walking to Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the movement against high-stakes testing held a rally Tuesday in Philadelphia.
Joined by a few dozen local activists on Independence Mall, Jesse Turner, a literacy professor at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, said the national push for standardized testing is harming students, but reaping large profits for test manufacturers.
"What would we do if we loved our children enough to do the right thing? Right now what we're doing is the cheap thing, the inefficient thing, we're doing shortcuts and we're using testing to measure our children," Turner told the crowd, which included City Councilman Mark Squilla, parents, educators and students.
Some in the crowd told personal stories about the impact – financial, emotional and otherwise – of standardized testing. Amy Roat, who teaches English as a second language at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, recalled an assistant teacher being distraught because she could not help her students on a mandatory test.
"For the first time she had to say no and it was killing her," Roat said. "I had to have her sit behind my desk and she turned the chair around and cried."
With opposition to testing growing nationally, the number of families in Philadelphia opting students out of state exams rose dramatically last school year. At least 552 families in the city school system excused their children from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, up from 20 the previous year.
The state Senate unanimously passed a bill last month that would delay by two years a requirement that students pass Pennsylvania's Keystone exams to graduate. The legislation is expected to voted on soon by the House and signed by Gov. Wolf.
Turner, who first walked to Washington in 2010 to highlight the issue, will take part in other testing-related forums today in Center City and Strawberry Mansion. He said the message to lawmakers is simple: undo the testing culture or be held accountable.