April 29, 2019

Correct the Tests report details serious issues with flawed state exams

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations
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ALBANY, N.Y. April 29, 2019 — On the eve of state math tests for grades 3-8, New York State United Teachers today released the Correct the Tests report (PDF), which details 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

“While the federal government requires testing, it doesn’t have to be this way,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said. “These front-line reports are difficult to read, but it’s important for our education policymakers to hear what’s happening in the field and do the right thing. It’s time that they correct the tests and restore trust in our assessment system.”

NYSUT has heard from hundreds of educators, parents and students from across the state who have detailed incredibly painful testing experiences. Accounts shared on, social media and NYSUT’s testing hotline detail issues ranging from developmentally inappropriate test questions to students taking a full day to complete their exams in an untimed setting.

correct the tests
Download: Complete Report (PDF)

“It’s a sad day in education when 8- and 9-year-olds are falling asleep and/or having nervous breakdowns because of a test!!” wrote one Mohawk Valley teacher. “A test that is way too long for that age range and NOT academically appropriate. How is this test even an accurate assessment?”

NYSUT repeatedly has called on the state Education Department and Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to address these persistent issues. But subpar changes to these exams have created only more problems.

“Making my students sit for this long — for a test that doesn’t even matter — is wrong,” a Catskill teacher wrote. “Making my students sit for this long — for a test that is graded within the next month, yet we don’t receive results until the summer — is wrong. Making my students sit for this long — rather than me teaching them in my classroom — is just wrong.”

Computer failures once again turned computer-based testing into a debacle, despite assurances from the state that the same failures that occurred in 2018 would not be repeated.

“Today I witnessed a very hardworking student hysterically crying because she was almost done and her test froze,” a Lower Hudson Valley teacher reported. “When she was able to log back in all of her work was gone. Insanity, this child worked SO hard.”

Testing issues have not been confined to the exams themselves. NYSUT has received numerous reports of some building administrators either trying to intimidate children and their parents into taking the tests or blatantly refusing to honor parents’ opt out requests.

“I was told that if I even ask a child if they have an opt-out letter I would lose my certification,” one Central New York teacher reported. “I was also told by admin that as a state employee I was to ‘sell’ the test. Our school leader told students there were no opt-outs this year. For those that did bring a letter, a phone call to the parents was made.”

NYSUT launched the Correct the Tests campaign in April to raise awareness of the serious issues with the grades 3-8 ELA and math tests and demand state action to fix these flawed, invalid tests that are harmful to New York students.

The union is drawing attention to the fact that:

  • the state tests are flawed and invalid;
  • invalid scoring benchmarks mislabel children;
  • ELA and math tests are too long;
  • untimed testing can be cruel and traumatic;
  • the tests are developmentally inappropriate; and
  • computer-based testing is problematic and has been rolled out too quickly.

As state math tests begin this week, parents and educators are encouraged to visit for more information about the flaws with these tests and parents’ rights to opt their children out of taking the tests. Parents and teachers also are encouraged to continue submitting stories about testing issues in their schools.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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