Double Testing by State and City Must be Stopped
Whatever one thinks of the frenzy of standardized testing
brought on in part by the federal No Child Left Behind Act
(NCLB), and regardless of one’s view of high-stakes testing,
almost everyone can agree that subjecting students in the same
grade to two sets of standardized tests is plain wrong. I have
intervened to prevent this from happening in New York City
public schools’ grades 3, 5 and 7.
NCLB requires standardized testing in English and math of
students nationwide in grades 3-8 beginning with the 2005-2006
school year. New York City already gives English and math tests
in grades 3, 5, and 7—in part to help make decisions
about social promotion—that is, about whether children
should advance to grades 4, 6 and 8. While I oppose high-stakes
testing, if that is the city’s policy, clearly the city
needs the results of those exams quickly, certainly no later
than June 1.
The State Education Department, which already administers
standardized tests statewide in grades 4 and 8, recently determined
that the city’s tests were insufficient and indicated
their intention to administer state tests in grades 3, 5, and
7 even though the city already tests in those grades.
As the State has a contract with CTB McGraw-Hill to produce
the state’s grades 4 and 8 English and math exams, the
contract would be extended to cover the new extra round of
testing in grades 3, 5 and 7. But for whatever unfathomable
reason, it takes CTB McGraw-Hill and the state five months
to score their exams and share the results with the schools.
The ludicrousness and irony of this is beyond perplexing.
How silly it is to give a standardized exam in the middle of
a school year and not get the results till late summer! This
is of no value. In many cases the child has gone on to another
school by that point.
Double testing is costly and time consuming and wastes precious
classroom time that could be used for real learning by instead
having teachers prepare for and administer the duplicative
and valueless state tests.
Since the children cannot resolve this, the adults have to
work this out. That is why I have informed State Education
Commissioner Richard Mills that he must make sure that double
testing in New York City does not occur. Commissioner Mills
should issue a ruling that the city exams in reading and math
in grades 3, 5 and 7 are sanctioned by the state and are to
be administered to satisfy the NCLB requirement (instead of
state exam). Furthermore, he should also make sure that test
results must be back before the end of the school year, at
least in New York City, given the city’s policy of utilizing
the results to make determinations regarding which children
must get remediation or attend summer school.
The adults here must step up to the plate and be accountable
to our children—by evidencing basic fairness and common
sense.# Assemblyman Sanders is chairman of the Education
Committee. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone
212.979.9696. His mailing address is 201 East 16th Street,
New York, NY 10003.