ROCHESTER, N.Y. April 23, 2019 — New York State United Teachers, joined by members of the state Legislature, today called on the State Education Department to immediately fix significant issues with state tests for children in grades 3-8.
Speaking one week before the start of math exams for these children, NYSUT representatives yet again called for real changes to address student stress and anxiety driven by grade-level inappropriate questions and untimed tests, which have resulted in numerous students sitting for hours on end as they struggle to complete their tests. After computer-based testing turned chaotic during English language arts exams earlier this month, NYSUT also reiterated calls to halt computer-based testing.
“Educators work to help their students build confidence not only in their academic work but in themselves as young people,” said John Kozlowski, a NYSUT Board member and president of the Spencerport Teachers Association. “One of the ways we do this is by creating assessments that allow students to celebrate what they have learned. But the current state testing system does only a disservice to hard-working students who strive to do their best by mislabeling them instead of helping them grow.”
NYSUT repeatedly has called on the state to make changes to the testing system as a whole, starting with scoring benchmarks used to determine whether a student is proficient in ELA and math. State-released statistics show that while majorities of students have been deemed not proficient on 3-8 tests, majorities of the same groups of students go on to pass the rigorous Regents exams — a clear indication that the 3-8 test benchmarks are broken.
“Yet again this year, our students were saddled with stress and anxiety because of flawed tests and computer failures, and for what?” said Andy Jordan, a NYSUT Board member and co-president of BOCES United Professionals. “What did we learn about the state of our schools, about our education system or about student learning through these tests? The answer is simple: Nothing.”
NYSUT believes more educators — accounting for greater gender, racial, geographic and needs-based diversity — must be involved in the test-creation process from start to finish. That includes writing and selecting test questions, reviewing the tests before they are distributed and setting the benchmarks.
“This state testing system has been a failure for multiple years now,” said Mike Modleski, president of the Victor Teachers Association. “I look forward to when students, parents and teachers can say that the testing period went positive. But so far, it’s unclear when that day will come.”
On Tuesday, April 30, computer-based math tests will begin for children in grades 3-8, and paper testing begins a day later. Despite repeated calls this month for the state to take ownership of this testing debacle and demonstrate it will implement real changes to the exams, NYSUT still has not received a satisfactory response from the state Department of Education.
NYSUT has launched the Correct the Tests campaign 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
Parents and educators are encouraged to visit CorrectTheTests.com for more information about the flaws with these tests and parents’ rights to opt their children out of taking the tests. The website also provides an outlet for parents and teachers to submit 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.