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New York Makes Moves to Scale Back Standardized Testing

Parents of students in New York have mobilized against the state’s heavy standardized testing in recent years with as many as 20 percent of the elementary and middle schools' student population sitting out of the annual tests. Education policymakers have apparently heard the growing complaint loud and clear and announced earlier this week they would be scaling back the standardized testing from three days per subject to just two.

Both parents and teachers opposed to the heavy testing and testing prep schedule say it takes up too much valuable class time and added unnecessary pressures on students.

Lisa Rudley, a founder of the New York State Allies for Public Education, praised the move, but said that more work is needed to be done to right the flawed tests for opt-out parents to reconsider.

“If you’re sitting for two days for a horrible test, three days of course is worse, but two days is bad too,” said Rudley. “Reducing test time is one step that needs to be taken, but there are so many different areas that need to be addressed and corrected before parents will be opting back in.”

Standardized testing has risen in schools across the country over the last decade with the average student taking 112 mandated tests between pre-kindergarten classes and 12th grade, reported a study featured in The Washington Post. Eighth graders had the heaviest test load, spending an average of 25.3 hours during the school year taking the standardized tests.

Critics, such as Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, say that the tests fail to execute an overall clear picture of a student’s progress. “The result is an assessment system that’s not very intelligent and not coherent,” said Casserly.

Proponents of standardized testing such as High Achievement New York, expressed praise in a statement for the shorter schedule saying that it’s a sign education leaders are listening and encouraged parents to get on board with the action. “It’s time for opponents to finally take ‘yes’ for an answer and acknowledge that annual assessments are a necessary and important part of keeping all students on track, no matter where they’re from in the state.”

New Mexico recently announced a similar development to its standardized testing in schools dropping the test time by 30 to 40 minutes for the 2017-2018 school year. This will be the second time the Public Education Department has reduced test taking time since 2016, dropping the overall time by 15 to 20 percent.

New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera said the move is part of an overall goal to prepare the state’s students for the highest levels of success. “We’ll keep improving on it, but we need high-quality assessments, high expectations, really shifting our expectations to align not with New Mexico standards, not just with national standards, but with international expectations for kids to be set up for success,” Skandera told the Albuquerque Journal.

 

Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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