Many New Yorkers may remember taking standardized tests, and how they could make or break a student's path moving forward. There are, however, growing questions as to whether such tests are the best way to judge a student and prepare them for the future.
A new report by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union is encouraging the state to make significant changes it says would better benefit students after graduation. The report could portend future changes in classrooms.
School teacher Flip Gertler says the state’s current method of education – determining students’ graduation through single-exam test scores – is putting a lot of stress on both students and their teachers.
“You're seeing third-graders, 8-year-olds, stressed out," he said. "It's not easy to deal with. And as educators, we have not a choice, right? We have to knowingly put our students into an ordeal that we know is probably not what we would have done if we didn't have that.”
What You Need To Know
- A report from NYSUT suggests the state drastically change the way it tests students and how tests determine graduation
- The report recommends including more pathways for graduation for high school students beyond Regents exams and revising exams for grades 3-8
- It also suggests grade-span testing rather than one annual exam, and not basing teacher's annual professional performance review on exam scores
The NYSUT report recommends a drastic change in the approach. It found the skills students need for the workforce are not necessarily measured by standardized testing.
Eighty-eight percent of NYSUT members suggested an alternative to the mandatory Regents exam for graduation. The report recommends several key changes to the state's testing mandates, including more pathways for graduation for high school students and revising exams for grades 3-8.
“When we as educators look out into our classes and see everybody as a unique and diverse learner and then to put the same assessment with the same assessment criteria in front of each one of our students, I think that's where the problem lies," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jaime Ciffone.
Some school leaders say they will welcome the change.
Wappingers Central School District Superintendent Dwight Bonk said he's seen students not able to graduate just because they have trouble passing a Regents exam. He said one test shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
“The fact of the matter is that some students aren't able to graduate based on 13 years of education on how they do on a three-hour Regents exam. I don't believe is appropriate," he said.
Gertler hopes the state makes some of the changes. He said the standardized tests have taken some of the joy out of education for students and teachers alike.
“Educators know that their evaluation is based upon how well the students in front of them do on those tests," he said. "And the students themselves are… they're stressed out about it.”
The report comes as a state commission focused on New York’s graduation requirements will share its recommendations with the state Board of Regents on Nov. 13 after a yearlong study.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to the state Education Department for a response, but have not yet heard back.