This statement comes after the federal government denied the state's request to exempt some high-needs students from taking the state tests.
I'm not sure why state officials, including Merryl Tisch, would think the feds would okay a request to "loosen testing requirements" in any way, even for some high-needs students, since the modus operandi of the Obama USDOE has been "More And Constant Testing For Everyone!" for the last seven years.
In any case, now that the feds have done what they were always going to do and force the state to test every student no matter the circumstance, Merryl Tisch is trying to show some sympathy for parents with high-needs children who are upset their children have to take state tests they are guaranteed to fail.
This comes after Tisch said the following about the opt-out movement back during the 2014-2015 school year:
It used to be easy to ignore the most vulnerable students. Without assessments, it was easy to ignore the achievement gap for African-American and Latino students. Without an objective measure of their progress, it was easy to deny special education students and English Language Learners the extra resources they need. Without state tests, it was easy for a struggling 4th grader in a wealthy district to get lost. Obviously we still need to do more for those students, but now is not the time to put blinders back on.
Gee, what happened between March of 2015, when we absolutely needed to test students or it would be easy to deny special education students the services they need to now when Tisch says she would think twice before allowing a child "with a certain type of disability...to sit through an exam that was incomprehensible to them”?
We are still waiting to get official opt out numbers for the state tests but it is expected that more than 200,000 students opted out of taking the state math and ELA tests for 3rd-8th grade this year.
With Governor Cuomo imposing an even more draconian teacher evaluation system that makes a teacher's rating 50% of the state test scores, next year is expected to be an even more test-centric school year for both students and teachers.
Tisch knows already what the opt-out numbers were this year and I'm sure she's worried about what those numbers are going to look like next year when the movement is expected to grow again.
So while I applaud her saying she would think twice about having a child with a certain type of disability from sitting for the tests, I'm not seeing this as much more than Tisch trying to humanize herself (which is difficult, considering how she often acts like a cartoon stereotype of a wealthy, out-of-touch socialite) and rebrand the state's Endless Testing regime so that it's seen as less severe and cruel.
This is part of the larger rebranding effort of their education reform agenda the Board of Regents and NYSED are engaged in, bringing in a new NYSED commissioner (though she's already seeming a lot like the old one) and replacing the hated Pearson with another testing company for the state tests (though that one seems as problematic as Pearson too.)
Given the increasing opposition to the state's education reform agenda, Tisch and her merry men and women in reform in Albany are attempted a rebrand of the whole mess.
But there isn't real substantive change to the reform agenda as a whole coming - it's about perception alone, as in, how are parents perceiving the state's education policies.
This is what new NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia meant when she said she wanted to "repaint" the Common Core standards so that parents like them better.
This is why they replaced Pearson with Questar, the "fresh, innovative" testing company.
This is why Tisch now offers some soothing words to parents of special needs students.
Replacing Pearson and having the Regents Chancellor offer soothing words to parents of high needs students are definitely changes, but they don't affect the Endless Testing regime as a whole.
Whether parents of high-needs students opt their children out of the state tests or not next school year, their children's classroom experience will still be test-centric since so much is riding on the test scores for schools and teachers.
And that is the real damage that is done by the Endless Testing regime to all children - the tests and the test prep trump everything and suck all the air, life and creativity out of the classroom.