Albany, N.Y. May 4, 2019 — Delegates at the New York State United Teachers Representative Assembly today called on the state Board of Regents to direct the State Education commissioner and Education Department to make the necessary changes to fix the state’s broken grades 3–8 testing system and the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT).
The more than 1,700 delegates in attendance at the union’s annual convention unanimously passed a resolution calling for that action. It states in part that “NYSUT has no confidence in the commissioner and the State Education Department to make the necessary changes to fix the state’s grades 3–8 testing system and NYSESLAT on their own.”
“After the state put students through yet another year of this testing debacle, enough is enough,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Our children deserve better, and it’s time the State Education Department finally delivered for them.”
The resolution passed by delegates calls for:
- the meaningful involvement of teachers selected by NYSUT in every phase of the grades 3–8 tests and NYSESLAT development process;
- setting the appropriate scoring benchmarks by a large group of teachers representing the diversity of the state to ensure the tests accurately measure student knowledge and learning;
- a reduction of the number of questions on the tests;
- an independent study of the performance of students on computer-based testing versus paper-and-pencil tests to determine the impact on school accountability; and
- the formation of a committee of educators to review the study and develop a plan for the appropriate implementation of computer-based testing; such a plan must make a determination about the appropriate grade in which to begin computer-based testing.
“We have received reports from every corner of the state about testing issues that have left students, parents and educators exasperated, yet the state has not outlined any plan to ensure these problems do not happen ever again,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said. “The time for action is now. We look forward to working with the Board of Regents to ensure the voices of educators finally reverberate throughout the Education Department.”
The vote comes amid NYSUT’s 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.
Parents and educators are encouraged to visit CorrectTheTests.org 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.
Earlier this week, NYSUT released the Correct the Tests report, which details a number of the accounts the union has received. That report can be read here.
The full resolution is below:
Whereas, the State Education Department (SED) and Commissioner Elia have failed to make the changes to the State grade 3-8 testing system and NYSESLAT recommended by NYSUT including re-setting the benchmarks, reducing testing and making the tests more developmentally appropriate; and
Whereas, the state grade 3-8 testing system and NYSESLAT need a major overhaul to ensure the system is equitable and treats all students and schools fairly; and
Whereas, the benchmarks for the state grade 3-8 tests and NYSESLAT were set at unrealistic levels; and
Whereas, these benchmarks have led to students and schools being mislabeled as failures; and
Whereas, the benchmarks on the state tests must be re-set first to ensure a fair testing system; and
Whereas, the state grade 3-8 tests and NYSESLAT continue to be too long because the SED and the Commissioner failed to properly reduce the number of questions when eliminating a day of testing; and
Whereas, the untimed state grade 3-8 tests and NYSESLAT have led to students spending more time on these tests than high school students spend on Regents exams; and
Whereas, the state grade 3-8 tests and NYSESLAT contain developmentally inappropriate reading passages and test questions; and
Whereas, the state continues to press forward on computer based testing despite evidence that tests scores drop when switching to computer based testing; and
Whereas, the computer based testing system continues to have major technical failures in implementation; and
Whereas, many districts do not have the capacity to implement computer based testing; and
Whereas, computer based testing measures a student’s ability to use a computer rather than the student’s knowledge of the subject being tested; and
Whereas, teacher involvement in the test development process is limited to small committees that cannot properly represent the diversity of the state; and
Whereas, NYSUT has no confidence in the Commissioner and the State Education Department to make the necessary changes to fix the state’s grade 3-8 testing system and NYSESLAT on their own; therefore be it
RESOLVED that NYSUT will advocate with the Board of Regents to direct the Commissioner to make the changes needed to the testing system to return trust in the system by:
- providing for the meaningful involvement of teachers selected by the union in every phase of the test development process; and
- set the appropriate benchmarks by a large group of teachers representing the diversity of the state to ensure the tests accurately measure student knowledge and learning; and
- reducing the number of questions on the grade 3-8 tests and NYSESLAT; and
- conducting an independent study of the performance of students on computer based testing versus paper and pencil tests to determine the impact on school accountability; and
- forming a committee of practitioners to review the study on computer based testing and develop a plan for the appropriate implementation of computer based testing including determining the appropriate grade level to begin computer based testing.
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.