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On September 13, 2010, in response to the negative effects of bullying, NYS signed the Dignity for all Students Act, or DASA, into law. Children that are bullied are more likely to experience: Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy, decreased academic achievement and decreased school participation.  Children that are bullied are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

The intent of DASA is to provide all public elementary and secondary students with a safe and supportive environment. Our government recognized that bullying is detrimental to a student’s education and needs to be eradicated from the school environment. Lawmakers felt so strongly about protecting the learning environment that they mandated districts to appoint at least one staff member in each school to handle all bullying incidents on school grounds. In addition, administrators are required to report incidents of bullying to the NYS Department of Education.

Interestingly, it is this same Department of Education that is requiring all students to be subjected to high stakes exams, which have been proven to have consequences very similar to bullying. A 2009 study used three hundred and thirty-five students in grades three through five. It was found that, as a whole, students reported significantly more test anxiety when faced with high-stakes testing opposed to traditional classroom testing.

Test anxiety is associated with significant impairment in performance on academic achievement assessments, lower course grades, decreased motivation, and increased stress. Students’ GPAs are inversely related to test anxiety levels and it should be noted that significantly more test anxious students drop out of school than non-test anxious students.

With DASA, the Department of Education is telling us that schools should to be safe, happy places that are conducive to learning. With the current policy of high stakes testing, they are telling us the exact opposite. Join Lace to the Top and tell the Department of Education to stop bullying our children!

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