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NY Teachers Call for Testing Waiver

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New York teachers say standardized testing this school year would add more stress on students who already are dealing with multiple crises. (Prostock-studio/Adobe Stock)
New York teachers say standardized testing this school year would add more stress on students who already are dealing with multiple crises. (Prostock-studio/Adobe Stock)
January 20, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y. - Teachers are telling the New York State Education Department that, with disruptions due to the COVID pandemic, students should not be subject to standardized tests at the end of the school year.

New York State United Teachers are calling on Interim Education Commissioner Betty Rosa and the Board of Regents to request a federal waiver on testing requirements for grades three through eight and high school.

With wide disparities in the amount of in-person and remote learning in school districts, NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said suspending standardized testing is a matter of educational equity.

"We want to ensure that any way we assess our children provides them with the opportunity to demonstrate what they know in a fair and equitable way," she said, "and we don't believe that these state tests would actually be the way do that."

She noted that, because of the current surge in COVID infections, disruptions of the normal education process are likely to continue for most of the remaining school year. While she said standardized tests wouldn't be the best way to measure individual educational achievement this year, DiBrango contended that teachers' input can help do that.

"Teachers are the best determiner of how our students are really doing," she said. "They know them best and they can create assessments that can demonstrate, for communities and families, how the child is doing in school."

She said students successfully graduated from high school last year even though standardized tests, including regents' exams, had been waived. Because the pandemic has affected teacher training as well, DiBrango also is urging the state to delay implementation of the Next Generation Learning Standards until the 2023-24 school year.

"Professional learning has shifted to remote teaching and learning, and it hasn't been focused on these standards," she said. "So, we are really just asking for the time that these teachers need to be trained properly in order to implement them fully."

She said she thinks, with the added stress of the isolation and social upheavals of the past year, many students will need more time to master the new learning standards.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY