NYSUT Communications |
Friday April 28 2023 4:20 PM

Delegates call for end to over-testing

Imploring lawmakers to allow children the space to learn, and educators the freedom to teach all students, delegates overwhelmingly supported a special order of business calling for an end to over-testing.

“In the words of Congressman Bowman, ‘We need a revolution in our public schools that unlocks the brilliance of all our kids and cultivates a generation equipped to take on 21st century challenges,’” said NYSUT Executive Director and Political Director Melinda Person in introducing the special order of business.

The “More Teaching, Less Testing” resolution decries an education system so focused on “accountability” that children are losing out on the “rich, meaningful public education that prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges that await them as contributing members of a democratic society and a global economy.”

Delegates from across the state and representing different age groups and subjects shared stories of what has been lost in a misguided “accountability” effort.

AFT President Randi Weingarten, speaking in favor of the special order, told delegates the presence of teachers in Washington is helping to spread the word about how over-testing has harmed students and is turning the tide on what has now become a civil rights issue. “By electing people who are teachers to Congress we start educating about what is really needed,” Weingarten said. “The NAACP, NAN and other legacy civil rights groups are with us in supporting more teaching and less testing.”

Longtime English as a New Language teacher Jaime Ciffone, United Federation of Teachers, lamented how ENL students fair when all of the supports given to help them thrive are then taken away during testing time. “Instead of rich discussioan about content we spend countless days preparing for assessments, taking assessments and scoring assessments,” Ciffone said. “A score on an assessment is just one measure, one glimpse, of a whole child.”

“Why are we still having this conversation 10 years later?” asked Leslie Rose, Hewlett Woodmere Faculty Association. “All of our students think, learn and process differently. Standardized test results don’t reflect any of that.”

It comes down to an equity issue for high school history teacher Greg Perles, North Shore Schools Federated Employees, who supported the resolution’s goals of enacting meaningful alternative pathways to graduation.

The special order called for NYSUT to:

  • Urge lawmakers to commit to a public education system that reflects the diversity of children’s experiences and abilities and allows them to demonstrate what they know and are able to do beyond filling in bubbles.
  • Work with the AFT and NEA to mobilize members and support legislators who stand for an education system that fosters joy, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity in every classroom;
  • Advocate with the state Board of Regents to ensure any modifications to the graduation requirements include multiple pathways to graduation.
  • Support policies that limit the use of high-stakes tests for retention, program placement, high school graduation decisions, teacher evaluations or school rating systems.