ALBANY—State education officials recently considered allowing unlimited time for upcoming Common Core-aligned English language arts exams, but stakeholders shot down the idea.
Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch said parents and teachers have complained that students have struggled to finish the English exams, which third through eighth graders will begin taking on April 14. So she, with the state education department, tried to gauge interest among school groups for the tests to be untimed.
“We wanted to float an idea to allow students to have more time on the E.L.A. test, because everyone was telling us the kids were feeling pressured,” Tisch told Capital. “I thought that was a way to value teachers and their discretion: let a teacher decide when a kid is working productively and give them time. The idea isn’t to play ‘gotcha’ with the students. The idea is to let students show you as much as they can. We thought it was a productive idea.
“All of a sudden people said no,” she said. “I don’t think anyone thought it was a bad idea. I just thought the politics around doing anything positive about testing became too difficult to manage.”
Actually lots of people thought it was a bad idea, including the New York State School Boards Association, NYSUT and parent activists.
NYSUT and the New York State School Boards Association both vocally support "meaningful assessment" but thought the unlimited time for testing unworkable.
Lisa Rudley sums up the argument from the perspective of many parents:
Lisa Rudley, a parent-activist who has helped organize opposition to the current testing arrangements, said Tisch’s plan shows the chancellor doesn’t understand parents’ concerns.
“Parents aren’t asking for more time,” said Rudley, who is a co-founder of New York State Allies for Public Education, a parent-led group that has encouraged the “opt out” movement. “They’re asking for less testing. They’re asking for less test-driven curricula. They’re asking for a less test-driven environment.
“The chancellor’s suggestion is completely outrageous, and it shows that she’s not listening to parents,” she said.
The line Cuomo and the state education apparatus are trying to thread with these new education reforms is that there will be less testing because the governor took away the mandated local assessment measures in the state teacher evaluation system and made state tests the sole measure of student performance (albeit, with an optional second test that has to be negotiated by districts and local unions, won't be paid for by the state and thus will likely never be given.)
But when you increase the weight of the APPR testing component the way Cuomo has, making it somewhere between 40% and 50% (we won't really know until NYSED issues the final plan in June), you increase the emphasis on testing in the system.
Seems to me Tisch is just reacting to the criticism that students don't have enough time to complete the "rigorous" Common Core tests and trying to take away some of argument against using these tests for 40%-50% of a teacher's rating by floating this plan.
A nice try, but ultimately doomed for failure.
Tisch doesn't seem to understand just how much toxicity surrounds the testing issue nor how untrusted she is by many parents and teachers.
Post-Cuomo reform budget, the impetus from many parents and teachers is to starve the state education bureaucrats of their precious testing data and put a shiv into Cuomo's APPR teacher evaluation system.
Making the tests untimed might have elicited a positive reaction from some a few years ago, but not anymore.
For many these days, the goal is the end of the Endless Testing regime, not the extension of it.