NY keeping 6 days of standardized tests

ALBANY - New York's elementary- and middle-school students will continue to sit for six days of standardized tests in 2017 and 2018, the state's top education officials announced Monday.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said Monday the state's testing schedule will remain the same for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, resisting pressure from parent advocates to reduce the number of days students are tested.

Under the state's schedule, math and English language arts exams given to grades 3-8 are spread over three days each in the spring.

Elia and Rosa said a change in the number of testing days would make it difficult to compare test results to previous years. They said the state will revisit the issue when it revamps the tests to match changes to the state's learning standards in 2019.

“I have always said that state assessments must be diagnostic, valid, and reliable – and they must provide timely and practical information to teachers, administrators and parents,” Rosa said in a statement. “Maintaining the current testing for now will allow us to measure student development over time in these areas."

Parent advocates leading a multi-year testing boycott had called for significantly shorter tests, saying the length of the exams adds to the stress students face. The opt-out movement opposes the "high-stakes" nature of the tests, which are based on the Common Core education standards.

The opt-out movement has grown in stature in recent years, with 22 percent of eligible students not taking the standardized exams this past April.

Last school year, the Education Department reduced the number of questions and reading passages on the exams and lifted a time limit, which Elia and others said was due to concerns raised by parents and teachers. Opt-out leaders said the changes were negligible.

For the current school year, the three English sessions will be in late March. The math exam will be administered in early May.

High Achievement New York, a coalition of business groups and other supporters of the Common Core, praised the decision to maintain the tests as is.

"Just as standards should be consistent, districts and students shouldn't have to see a different test year in and year out," Executive Director Steve Sigmund said in a statement.


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