SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher on Monday urged students and parents to not sit out this month’s round of standardized testing.

The call to participating in the state tests for students comes the statewide teachers union and a host of advocacy organizations allied with the New York State United Teachers urge parents to have their children opt out of the examinations.

In a blog post this afternoon, Zimpher writes the tests have become a “pawn” in debates over teacher evaluations.

“When it comes to whether students should opt out of standardized testing, no one is actually talking about what’s best for our kids. Standardized tests have become a pawn in political debates about teacher evaluations and we have lost sight of what they are: a way to measure what students know so we can help them improve,” Zimpher wrote.

The debate has grown even more heated after the state budget, at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s urging, created a new teacher evaluation system that will grade teachers both on test performance and in-classroom observation.

Students should take the tests, Zimpher argues, in order to provide a road map for determining how well they are doing at this point in their education.

“If we are truly trying to do “what’s best for kids,” we would use standardized test scores to diagnose where we need to improve teaching and learning so that kids come to college ready to succeed,” Zimpher wrote. “We need those results to support students, whether with early intervention when they are falling behind or to guide them toward advanced coursework when they are ahead of the curve. If kids opt out, we risk them being left behind.”