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NYSUT statement on federal government's decision to require state standardized exams

Wed, Feb 24th 2021 10:25 am

New York State United Teachers strongly rebuked the federal government’s decision to mandate that states administer standardized tests this school year.

“In a year that has been anything but standard, mandating that students take standardized tests just doesn’t make sense,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “As the educators in the classroom, we have always known that standardized tests are not the best way to measure a child’s development, and they are especially unreliable right now. We need to ensure that our students who have been hit hardest during the pandemic receive the support they need. Sizing up students with inequitable and stressful exams is not the solution.”

NYSUT previously encouraged the state to request a federal waiver of grades 3-8 and high school testing requirements. Thousands of comments were submitted to the state by educators demanding a waiver of testing requirements this year.

“We have grave concerns that standardized tests at any level can be administered in any sort of equitable way,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene T. DiBrango said. “Students deserve better. Regardless of what flexibility the federal government provides, no student should be forced to come to school in person just to take a test.”

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.

Additionally, the Alliance for Quality Education stated, “New York’s school districts do not have the capacity to administer federally mandated tests. Requiring states to administer these tests this year is a waste of time and resources.

“With public schools still grappling with how to address the ongoing challenges created by COVID-19, meeting a testing mandate would be an obstacle: The state must either choose to only test the small number of students who are learning in person, or introduce an online test, but many students still lack access to basic technology like Wi-Fi or a device, and the integrity of testing students at home cannot be guaranteed. Both scenarios would produce skewed and inaccurate data that at best is meaningless and at worst will give us a false picture of student learning during the pandemic. The cost, both in dollars and in the energy and stress expended, is a terrible waste for school districts, students and families, who are rightfully prioritizing how to meet students’ basic needs amidst a crisis. Schools should be able to focus on healing and learning at this time, not on high stakes testing. School districts are capable of assessing students’ progress locally, and must be permitted to do so.

“We commend the New York State Board of Regents for its determination to cancel any testing that is not required by the USDE. The board and SED must continue to push the cancellation of testing in any way possible.”

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