More Changes to NY’s Educational Testing

More Changes to NY’s Educational Testing

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Students won’t sit for quite as much testing next year under a change recently announced by New York State. This is the latest adjustment in a long series of changes to the state’s testing regime that has made tracking student progress over time tricky.

The state’s Board of Regents, which sets education policy, reduced the number of days students in 3rd through 8th grade sit for testing in both math and English Language Arts from three to two. This was the latest response to ongoing concerns of parents and teachers about the emphasis on and impact of testing in schools. In the past few years, the state also backed off plans to link evaluations of teachers to test results, reduced the number of test questions, and allowed students to take more time to complete tests.

Critics would like to see the state go further, saying the tests put too much pressure on students, are too important in driving curriculum and instruction, and are developmentally inappropriate. But state officials and others see the tests as necessary to measure how students are doing and provide some public accountability for schools.

The state has undertaken several major overhauls of its testing program in the last several decades, beginning with a push in the mid-1990s to publicly report meaningful test results and to require all students to pass high school Regents exams as a graduation requirement. Then early this decade, the state adopted Common Core standards aimed at increasing rigor in education, and realigned its tests to reflect the standards. Passing rates plummeted, dropping to 30-35% in most districts and the single digits in struggling school districts.

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo then announced a goal of basing teacher evaluations in part on student tests, the education world erupted and many parents decided to opt students out of testing altogether. About a third of students in the Mid-Hudson Valley did not participate in tests in 2016.

In recent years, passing rates in most districts, including those in the Mid-Hudson Valley, have started to inch upward as schools align instruction to the standards. But another round of reforms is coming, as New York revises its standards yet again. Next month, the state is set to adopt Next Generation Standards that it says incorporate local input from across the state, including more guidance for teachers for implementing the standards and moving some standards to different grades. For more, see

How this might affect students, instruction and passing rates won’t be known for a few years. Keep up to date on how Mid-Hudson Valley students are doing through the Community Profiles’ academic achievement section.

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