Students, parents and teachers say NY state testing is flawed

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State United Teachers are calling for state action to fix what they call flawed, invalid tests that are harmful to New York students. 

Public school 3rd though 8th graders are asked to take standardized English language arts and math exams. 

NYSUT says the tests are too long and difficult and have caused students to break down in tears multiple times. 

“The benchmarks used to set the proficiency rates are broken,” said NYSUT executive vice president Jolene DiBrango. “The tests are still not developmentally appropriate, they’re too long, and the computer based testing rollout in New York State has been a failure.”

The State Education Department responded by saying in part, “this year the New York State teachers reviewed all questions for inclusion on the assessment at least six times. It’s up to parents to decide if their children should take the tests.”

For more information on NYSUT’s ‘correct the test report,’ click here

The State Education Department sent NEWS10 ABC this information regarding the tests:

Following each test administration, we do extensive analysis of test results, including multiple measures of validity and reliability, and we post the technical reports on our website for everyone to see.

Our assessment program is thoroughly reviewed by experts through at the U.S. Department of Education through peer review. New York has an outstanding Technical Advisory Committee, made up of highly regarded experts in areas of psychometrics, assessments and statistical analysis.

We invited New York State educators who are certified and experienced in teaching the grade-level and content area to recommend to us what the knowledge and skill expectations should be for students in each grade. That’s what we are considering proficient, what experienced teachers from all around NYS are telling us is necessary for success.

      The ELA tests were shortened considerably and to the full extent that was feasible while continuing to provide valid and reliable measurement of student achievement. All ELA tests were reduced by three passages, from 10 to 7 or from 11 to 8, and by 6 or 7 multiple choice questions, depending upon the grade level. In addition, the ELA tests now include fewer constructed response questions, including only one extended constructed-response question instead of two.

     For math, the most significant reduction was in the extended constructed-response questions, but, depending on the grade level, 7-13 multiple choice questions were also eliminated.

     The 2018 test designs were released as part of the educator guide in October 2017. Educators who participated in the multiple rounds of NYS educator review contributed substantially to the new test design and were quite supportive of the changes we made.

     Please also see the 2019 Administrator’s Manual (page 4): “The 2019 Grades 3–8 English Language Arts Tests will be untimed. Students should be given as much time as they need to complete them within the confines of the regular school day. On average, students in Grades 3–4 will likely need approximately 60–70 minutes of working time to complete Session 1 and 70–80 minutes of working time to complete Session 2. Students in Grades 5–8 will likely need approximately 80–90 minutes of working time to complete Session 1 and 90–100 minutes of working time to complete Session 2.

     The Education Department has created helpful guidance documents for parents that explain the changes to the State assessments: 

     Schools have reported a generally positive testing experience for students across the state. Participation in CBT remains completely voluntary and paper-based testing (PBT) was made available to all schools that preferred that option. Fifty-three schools in 31 districts that initially registered to administer the Grades 3-8 math assessments via CBT have decided to deliver these tests on paper. About 730 schools remain registered to administer the math assessments via CBT.

      As we have done from the start, we will ensure no student or school is penalized for participating in computer-based testing and we communicated to districts that no student should be asked to retake any testing sessions. A thorough comparability analysis will be done to review the student computer-based results and paper-based results. We will make the appropriate adjustments to student scores as we did last year.

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