This year's tests are a disaster!
For months, NYSUT has raised strong concerns and questions about SED's rush to implement computer-based testing. After a data breach earlier this year, NYSUT wrote a detailed letter to the State Education Department (SED) and Board of Regents, calling on them to put the brakes on computer-based testing. NYSUT has been expressing concerns about inequity for low-wealth districts; a lack of infrastructure and poor Internet capability in some schools, and whether computer-based testing accurately measures student learning — or just how well students can maneuver around a keyboard.
Notwithstanding NYSUT's warnings and concerns, students in nearly 300 schools sat down to their computers last Wednesday to test-drive the new English Language Arts computer-based tests in grades 3-8. Widespread reports of technology failures from teachers detailing disastrous system crashes; log-in failures and nonsensical answers for questions on the tests came flooding into NYSUT, news outlets and across social media.
Teachers in Victor, Saranac Lake, Shenendehowa and Spencerport, for example, reported some schools were unable to administer the computer-based tests properly because of technological failures. In at least one fourth-grade class in the Capital Region, students' entire tests were wiped out by malfunctioning computers. In Yonkers, some students "lost" their tests, while others attempting to answer multiple choice questions reportedly could only choose between four answers — all of which said “system error.”
While SED tried to call it a "glitch," NYSUT called last week's rush to computer-based testing nothing short of disaster! If children are going to sit for state standardized tests and are prepared to do their very best, SED must be able to guarantee that the tests are fair and accurate, and they don't leave kids anxious and rattled.
Last week's disastrous foray into computer testing, coupled with ongoing concerns about the benchmarks and developmental appropriateness of the tests, left children frustrated and teachers angry that their warnings were ignored. If SED wants to restore the trust and confidence of parents in its testing system, this isn't the way to do it.
P.S.: Whether this testing disaster affected you or not, get the facts about opting out at www.nysut.org/optout.