To the editor,
Every spring, students in grades 3 through 8 are forced to sit through hours of state tests. Unlike the rest of the tests they take in a school year, these exams aren’t designed to give the student a grade. Their purpose is to create a score to judge their schools and teachers.
This week, the New York State Department of Education released the results of the tests they administered last spring. They were slightly higher than the scores on the same tests the previous year.
While it is better that test scores increased slightly, we must not paper over the fact that the state’s standardized testing system — and the way it determines student proficiency — remains badly broken.
Too many students are forced to take tests that are too long and include questions that are not developmentally appropriate. Invalid scoring benchmarks continue to mislabel children. And the rush to adopt computer-based testing has been a complete failure for the second year in a row.
Earlier this year, NYSUT – the statewide union for educators -- launched the Correct the Tests campaign to raise awareness of the serious issues with these tests and demand state action to fix these flawed, invalid tests that are harmful to New York students.
In April, NYSUT released the Correct the Tests report, which detailed numerous problems with this year’s round of state standardized tests, despite assurances from the state Education Department that past failures would not be repeated. The report included real stories, submitted by real parents and teachers. It was disturbing.
Some students were forced to sit for six hours to complete tests. Some finished their computer-based tests, only to have the system crash as they submitted their work. Hours of work was gone in a flash. For some, the test questions were developmentally inappropriate.
Our students deserve better.
That is why, in May, delegates at the union’s annual Representative Assembly called on the state Board of Regents to direct the State Education commissioner and Education Department to finally make the necessary changes to fix the 3-8 testing system, as well as the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT).
The state Education Department has made little effort or progress when it comes to fixing years long problems with these tests. Officials must correct the testing system before our children sit for exams next spring.
Executive Vice President