NYSUT launches campaign to fix ‘broken’ state exams

Stephon Johnson | 4/4/2019, 10:16 a.m.
New York State United Teachers wants Albany to tackle state exams that they feel do more harm than good.

New York State United Teachers wants Albany to tackle state exams that they feel do more harm than good.

This month, NYSUT launched a campaign demanding state action to fix tests that they feel are “flawed,” “invalid” and harmful to students. The goal of the campaign, known as “Correct The Tests,” is to raise awareness of the issues with New York’s grade 3 through 8 English Language Arts and math tests and give educators and parents a platform to call on the state education department to address the stress and anxiety these exams cause.

“The state’s obsession with high-stakes testing is a failed experiment that needs to end,” stated NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “That is why teachers, parents and students around the state have been working for years to fix New York State’s broken testing system. If we are going to restore trust in the system, we need to fix these tests now.”

According to NYSUT, the state tests are flawed, have invalid scoring benchmarks and mislabel children. They are too long, developmentally inappropriate and computer-based testing was rolled out to quickly. This is the second year of computer-based ELA tests, which were launched this Monday, April 1. They initially rolled out to almost 300 schools. Traditional paper testing started Tuesday.

The union also said that untimed testing can be cruel and traumatic for children.

The union accused the state of creating a climate where school administrators try to intimidate parents into forcing their children to take the tests or isolating the students who refuse to. NYSUT officials said there were reported instances of intimidation by admins before this year’s tests.

NYSUT’s launched the website CorrectTheTests.com to provide info about the exam and what they feel is a flawed process. The website shows what rights parents have to opt their children out of taking the tests and allows parents an outlet to submit stories of their school’s experience with the tests to the website.

“Though the Board of Regents shortened the grade 3 through 8 tests from three days to two, there are still too many questions,” read one part of the website. “It doesn’t make sense for third- or fourth-graders to spend more time taking an ELA test than older students spend on a Regents Exam or the SAT for college.”

On top of the union’s public awareness and digital ad campaigns, NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said that the solution isn’t just on Albany, it has to involve the constituents as well.

“New York’s state tests are failing our students,” said DiBrango in a statement. “This is an issue that demands a collective solution. The State Education Department needs to step up and engage with teachers and parents to end this disaster.”