More than 1,500 parents, teachers and students gathered at the Comsewogue High School football field in Port Jefferson Station Saturday to criticize the Common Core standardized tests on which a majority of Long Island students performed poorly.
Protesters carried signs and cheered as they waited to hear from Comsewogue Superintendent Joseph Rella, a vocal curriculum critic.
"All of us have been passengers on a plane being built in midair," Rella said to the crowd. "Today, we are canceling our flight reservations."
He urged the group to use social media to spread the word and demand that state legislators re-evaluate the potential effects of Common Core standards. "Stop it, fix it or scrap it," Rella chanted with the crowd.
Rella has received viral attention after posting a letter to the school district's homepage on Aug. 7 asking state legislators to either help address his and parents' concerns or remove him from office.
New York is among the first of 44 states to adopt the Common Core, which sets uniform learning goals for each grade level. The state's agreement to do so came when the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top initiative awarded grants to states with the program; the state received $700 million in 2010.
On the Island, 37.5 percent of students in grades three through eight passed math tests in April, compared with 75.4 percent who passed less rigorous tests in 2012. In English, the number of students passing was 39.6 percent, down from 67.2 percent in 2012.
Parents and teachers have voiced outrage and concern over the mental and emotional impact of the new system on young students.
"Is it necessary to expose third grade children to that level of stress?" said Gina Rennard, one of nine speakers at the rally and a mother of three. "How do you tell a child that she's not college material?"
The support for the "students, not scores" movement has been "fantastic," Rella said, adding that they will no longer remain invisible on the issue.Rella was one of nine speakers at the event, including Assembs. Alfred Graf and Steve Englebright and former Suffolk County legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher.