ALBANY, N.Y. Nov. 8, 2023 — With momentum building across the state and nation to rethink the flawed standardized assessment systems that are limiting our students, New York State United Teachers today released a new report outlining new recommendations for state and federal policy makers.
NYSUT’s More Teaching Less Testing report is based on findings from a group of more than 65 educators, school-related professionals and higher education faculty who convened at the request of delegates at NYSUT’s annual convention this year.
The More Teaching Less Testing Task Force was charged with identifying how classrooms might look, sound and feel without high-stakes testing. The members were also asked to identify recommendations that could improve and diversify the manner in which we evaluate college and career readiness.
“We know that the modern workforce relies on skills like communication, collaboration, and ability to work as part of a team — skills not necessarily measured by a standardized test,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person. “When it’s time to graduate, students should have multiple options to show they are ready. Expanding our graduation requirements to allow for career and technical education programs, capstone portfolios, or project-based pathways is how we prepare our children for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”
In New York, the State Education Department convened a Blue Ribbon Commission to “explore what it means to obtain a diploma in New York state and what that diploma should signify.” SED’s findings are set for release in November 2023. In Congress, U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s proposed More Teaching, Less Testing Act would give states options to test less frequently and with more reasonable evaluation measures.
To meet the energy of both of these movements, the Task Force has crafted recommendations on both graduation requirements and state and federal testing mandates. Key proposals include:
- Providing for additional pathways to graduation that do not rely solely on Regents exams, such as capstone projects, experiential and project-based learning, and career and technical education programs.
- Fixing the flawed grades 3-8 assessment system by revising the content and structure of the exams and delinking the test results from teacher evaluations.
- Revising the federal testing requirements through the proposed More Teaching Less Testing Act with flexibility for states to make the exams more reasonable, useful and less stressful on students. This would allow for a return to a grade-span testing approach or the option to use representative sampling.
The recommendations build upon NYSUT’s firm and longstanding position that overreliance on standardized testing forces a “teach to the test” model that strips the joy of learning and teaching from our classrooms. If adopted, these policies would revamp our federal and state assessment systems to better support students’ natural curiosity and authentic education.
“From kindergarten to 12th grade, our Task Force found the overemphasis on these tests has limited students’ abilities to demonstrate knowledge in various ways and find joy in their exploratory learning,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jaime Ciffone. “It is long past time we make policy decisions that support all of our students, with multiple measures of achievement and across diverse learning styles.”
The full report and recommendations can be found at https://nysut.cc/moreteaching.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with nearly 700,000 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.