Since taking over as Chancellor of the Board of Regents, Betty Rosa has led the way in making substantial reductions in the emphasis placed on state standardized tests and the loss of instructional time caused by the administration and grading of those tests.
Last week, the Board of Regents took another large step in this direction by voting unanimously to reduce the testing days for the spring grade 3-8 ELA and Math assessments.
Starting next year, each exam will be administered over two days instead of three.
In public remarks about the vote, Chancellor Rosa stated, “The Regents have taken a bold step forward today. This decision not only reduces the amount of time children will spend taking tests, but also returns valuable instructional time to our teachers. We will make certain the tests continue to provide a valid and reliable measurement of student achievement.”
The decision to reduce testing days was met with wide-ranging support. For example, the New York State PTA issued a press release applauding the move.
While reducing the number of testing days will have benefits for teachers and students, some in the education field still have strong concerns about the validity of the tests themselves in any form or length. Many argue that recent revisions to state education standards have not gone far enough to address developmentally inappropriate curriculum and state assessments are still primarily based upon that flawed curriculum.
Concerns about state tests resulted in the start of a state-wide “Opt-Out” movement in 2012. That movement remains strong today and is a driving force behind the Board of Regents and the State Education Department making changes to the tests and the curriculum upon which those exams are based.
Last spring well over 50% of parents on Long Island chose to opt their children out of the state ELA test.
For this past school year, results of state ELA and Math exams were not used in a teacher’s official APPR score. However, if the current plan holds, results of state ELA and Math exams will be used again in a teacher’s APPR starting with the 2019-20 school year
While the vote to reduce the time of tests last week was an important step, there is no doubt that Chancellor Rosa, the Board of Regents and the State Education Department still have a great deal of work to do to earn the support of both educators and parents in regards to the validity of these state-wide assessments and their use in evaluating students and teachers.