Education Evaluation & Assessment Issues
Why civil rights groups oppose test opt-out movement in NY
A coalition of 12 civil rights groups issued a statement opposing efforts to have children "opt out'' of standardized testing. The coalition singled out New York, where at least 155,000 elementary and middle school students sat out the English Language Arts and math tests last month. Federal law requires 95 percent participation by schools and school districts. Far more than 5 percent refused the tests in pockets of New York, New Jersey and Ohio, the paper reported.
The civil rights groups signing on to the statement on testing are: the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; the American Association of University Women; Association of University Centers on Disabilities; Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.; Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; League of United Latin American Citizens; NAACP; National Council of La Raza; National Disability Rights Network; National Urban League; Southeast Asia Resource Action Center; and TASH, an advocate for people with disabilities.
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Updated: October 31, 2017
- Advocacy group wants teachers union to end test writing boycott - In a letter to New York State United Teachers President Andrew Pallotta, the Coalition of High Achievement New York called it “common sense” that teachers would want to help craft the tests and said that “walking away from the process now is the definition of quitting the fight for those you serve, students.” “That’s why we strongly urge you to reverse your decision to boycott teacher participation and remember that all of us – teachers, administrators, parents, community leaders and advocates – must remain committed to helping every child have access to a great education," the letter says.
- Public comment period to begin on proposed high school equivalency diploma changes - The State Education Department will allow public comment next week for a proposal expanding pathways to a high school equivalency diploma. The proposed regulatory changes would “provide an additional pathway to earn a New York State high school equivalency diploma,” according to a news release. Public comments on the proposed changes will be accepted from Nov. 1 through Dec. 18 and can be submitted by email. If the amendments are adopted at the Board of Regents’ January meeting, they would take effect on Feb. 7.
- Group Cheered By Lower Opt-Out Rates - The lowered rates of students opting out of English and mathematics exams is a “clear trend” toward better participation, a group that has backed education standards found in a report. High Achievement NY’s report reviewed the number of students opting out of the most recent round of testing for grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and math, which overall reduced from 21 percent to 19 percent. 76 percent of districts saw their opt out rates decline.
- SED Says Gains Made In Student Test Scores - Students across New York and in its largest school districts made modest gains in proficiency for English language arts and mathematics, while the overall number of students opting out of the examinations are down.
- State math, English tests reduced to two days - State assessment tests will be reduced to two days from three beginning in the spring of 2018. The change, which applies to English language arts and math for grades 3 to 8, was made by the State Board of Regents.
- Teacher licensing exam has too high failure rate Regents - The state’s Board of Regents acknowledged that failure rates are running far too high — at 23 percent — on a teacher-licensing exam taken so far by about 22,000 college students and others statewide.
- Officials could lower bar for passing new NY teacher exam - State education officials are eyeing a plan that could “recalibrate” — and presumably lower — passing scores on a challenging new teacher licensing exam that has produced a failure rate of more than 20 percent since it was introduced statewide in 2015.
- For 1st time, all NY schools will be able to test students with computers - For the first time this spring, all New York schools will have the option of using computers to administer state tests. "We have learned from experience that we can't rush important transitions," she said. "We have put in place a long-term process to move from paper-and-pencil testing to computer-based testing, making sure that districts have time to gather every tool they need, from infrastructure to technology, along the way."
- Education Department does flip-flop on testing changes - Last week, the New York State Education Department announced that standardized testing in grades 3 through 8 would not change in 2017 or 2018. The following day, Chancellor Betty Rosa said that the 2018 testing changes were still being discussed. Shortly after Mrs. Rosa’s statement, SED spokesperson Emily DeSantis backpedaled and issued the new statement that no decision would be made on the 2018 tests at this time.
- NY keeping 6 days of standardized tests - 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.
- OpEd - Stephen Sigmund and Donna Seymour: Most north country parents opt for state assessments - We believe working together is a much better course for our children and our state. Across the North Country, parents appear to be giving the tests a chance to work. Parents in favor of the tests continue to believe assessments give teachers deeper insight into their students and provide the data needed to close persistent achievement gaps. Advocates on both sides want the state tests to do what they are supposed to do: identify weaknesses early so teachers can help individual children, recognize and confront achievement gaps, and help schools and educators improve their instruction. (June 2, 2016)
- State releases 75 percent of Common Core standardized test questions - The state Education Department released 75 percent of the questions from the state’s third- through eighth-grade Common Core-aligned math and English language arts exams, seeking to quell the backlash against the learning standards, the tests themselves and their use in teacher evaluations. High Achievement New York, a pro-Common Core nonprofit coalition of businesses, civic and education groups, applauded the department for releasing more test questions.
- Anti-Testing Backlash Will Backfire - Rather than abolish all standardized tests, efforts should be made to improve the quality of these tests and then use them primarily for diagnostic purposes.
- NNY schools report similar or fewer opt-outs this year - Northern New York school districts saw similar numbers of or significantly fewer opt-outs from the state standardized tests this year. District administrators say the change in trend is possibly because of the changes the State Education Department made to the tests.
- Opt Out Rates Fall In Urban Areas - High Achievement New York, a business-backed group that is supportive of the Common Core standards, is pointing to the “opt-in” rates of students in the state’s urban areas. The decline comes after the Department of Education agreed to place a moratorium on linking Common Core-based test results to teacher evaluations. At the same time, teachers and students in general are said to have been better prepared during the new round of testing.
- Opt-out rates down this year for state ELA exams in Northern New York - The north country region as a whole is seeing fewer refusals to take the state standardized grades three through eight tests this year than last year.
- Testing state’s patience: Skewed results from opt-outs will blur educational picture - Keeping students from taking the tests thwarts the ability of education officials to assess how well students have done.
- Connections: The Debate Over State Testing And The Opt-Out Movement - The so-called "opt-out" movement is back and appears to be just as strong as last year, when thousands of New York State students sat out the ELA and Math tests. This week, significant numbers of students have once again refused to take the tests.
- Testing to begin as opt-out movement looms - About 1.1 million students across New York will be eligible to take the state’s English language arts and math exams beginning this week. For the third year in a row, much of the focus will be on those who don’t.
- Battle Lines Drawn as Student Testing Is Set to Begin - With New York tests starting on Tuesday, some principals and superintendents predict more of their families will opt out, even as the state education commissioner seeks to communicate the value of the tests.
- National PTA's New Stand on Opt-Outs Could Prove Timely This Testing Season - Going into this spring's testing season, the National Parent Teacher Association is taking a stand on an issue that received a lot of attention from parents last year—the testing opt-out movement. The PTA's board approved in January its position statement that is meant to be "holistic," also covering such topics as what grades should be tested and how tests should be aligned with state standards. Nationally, there are about 4 million PTA members. "National PTA does not support state and district policies that allow students to opt-out of state assessments that are designed to improve teaching and learning. While we recognize that parents are a child's first teacher and respect the rights of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, the association believes the consequences of nonparticipation in state assessments can have detrimental impacts on students and schools," the statement reads.
- State Education Commissioner Elia asks parents to trust her on tests - Rejects opt-outs in bid for schools to improve.
- New York City Teachers Told to Keep Opt-Out Opinions to Themselves - Several principals said they had been told by either the schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, or their superintendents that they and their teachers should not encourage opting out. There were no specific consequences mentioned, but the warnings were enough to deter some educators.
- Education Leaders Make Big Change for State Testing Next Month - With state testing due to start in schools across the state next month for grades three through eight, state Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia is attempting to put parents' minds at ease. Elia says they went across the state this summer getting testing feedback from teachers and parents after thousands of students across the state last year opted out of testing and criticized the assessments.
- Ed. Dept. Gives States Guidance On How to Pare Back, Improve Tests - The Obama administration-which spent its first six years arguably doubling down on high-stakes standardized tests by attaching them to teacher evaluations-has come out with new guidance to help states and districts cut down on the number of tests students take.
- Test-Participation Mandate Puts States on Spot - As states prepare for the transition to the new federal education law passed last month, one of the thornier policy questions is how they'll consider test-participation rates in their accountability systems, after a year in which the testing opt-out movement rose to national prominence. States are considering various approaches to try to ensure schools meet the requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (the newest iteration of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act) that 95 percent of eligible students take state exams in English/language arts and math.
- Students will get more time to take state assessment tests - The state tests aren't going away, but starting this spring, they'll be shorter and students will have more time to finish them. State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said those are part of major changes in the assessments, which critics say have been poorly designed.
- CAP: Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act: Toward a Coherent, Aligned Assessment System - The new law, which replaces No Child Left Behind, provides an opportunity for states and districts to move toward more coherent, aligned assessment systems that support student learning. A discussion of the challenges and opportunities associated with testing as the federal government, states, and school districts implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act.
- Rethink Teacher-Evaluation Systems if They're Not Working, John King Says - The Every Student Succeeds Act presents states, districts, and educators with a chance for a "fresh start" and "much needed do-over" on the very testy issue of teacher evaluation through student outcomes, acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King.
- CAP: A Look at the Education Crisis, Tests, Standards, and the Future of American Education - The authors of this report analyzed the latest data from two national assessments: NAEP and the Trial Urban District Assessment, or TUDA. We looked at proficiency rates for several groups of students, including students of color and students with disabilities. We used these rates to estimate the total number of students in each group that were performing at the proficient or advanced level.
- Unions sue NY over teacher evaluation changes - New York teachers are suing the state over new regulations that allow superintendents to impose teacher improvement plans on underperforming teachers without negotiating them with their union first.
- NYSUT Embarks On Ad Campaign To Mark Changes In State Testing Programs - New York teachers are celebrating changes in state education policy with a 10-day, $1 million statewide media campaign. NYSUT leaders say that unprecedented activism by parents and teachers opened the door for changes in public education. They include a four-year moratorium on the use of Common Core test scores in teacher evaluations and a re-boot of the Common Core learning standards.
- Education Department Asks 12 States to Address Low Test-Participation Rates - If you've been wondering how many states had significant issues with test participation last spring, there's an answer from the U.S. Department of Education. Twelve states have received letters from the Education Department in recent months asking them to address lower-than-required participation rates on state exams for groups of students or districts, or statewide. The states to receive these letters are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- With moratorium in place, educators start offering evaluation ideas - The state Board of Regents on Monday voted to delay until 2019-20 the oft-criticized controversial test-based teacher evaluation system that was pushed through in last Spring's budget.
- Regents Vote for Delay of Common Core Associated Teacher Evals - The state's education commissioner says no new laws are needed to reverse a proposal in this year's state budget tying teacher performance reviews more closely to standardized tests. At the December Board of Regents meeting, members voted to postpone the effects of the tests on teacher evaluations until for at least four more years.
- Common Core Task Force Calls For Moratorium On Linking Common Core With Evaluations - A panel convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to review and propose changes to the state's controversial Common Core education standards released its long-awaited report on Thursday with 21 recommendations for overhauling the standards, including a temporary end to linking test results to teacher performance reviews.
- Cuomo, in Shift, Is Said to Back Reducing Test Scores' Role in Teacher Reviews - Less than a year ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York proclaimed that the key to transforming the state's education system was tougher evaluations for teachers, and he pushed through changes that increased the weight of student test scores in teachers' ratings. Now, facing a parents' revolt against testing, the state is poised to change course and reduce the role of test scores in evaluations. And according to two people involved in making state education policy, Mr. Cuomo has been quietly pushing for a reduction, even to zero.
- Gates Foundation Puts New Focus on Transforming Teacher Prep - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest some $34 million in cooperative initiatives designed to improve teacher-preparation programs' overall effectiveness.
- Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools - Faced with mounting and bipartisan opposition to increased and often high-stakes testing in the nation's public schools, the Obama administration declared Saturday that the push had gone too far, acknowledged its own role in the proliferation of tests, and urged schools to step back and make exams less onerous and more purposeful.
- Teacher Evaluation Review Will Continue in 2016 - The state Education Department's review of teacher evaluations and how student tests scores are used in that process will continue into 2016, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said.
- AZ Attorney General Brnovich: Parents can't opt out of statewide education tests - Parents of public-school students cannot opt out of statewide assessment tests, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich stated in an opinion sought by schools chief Diane Douglas. Douglas, the superintendent of public instruction, asked the Attorney General's Office in August to clarify whether parents could allow their children to opt out of statewide exams, such as AZMERIT, which measures how well Arizona's 1.1 million school children are mastering the state's academic standards.
- Survey: Majority of New Yorkers oppose opt-out movement - A majority of New Yorkers oppose the growing opt-out movement, which led to one out of every five parents not allowing their students to take state tests in reading and math this spring. That's according to a new survey released today by High Achievement New York, a coalition of parents, teachers, business groups and community organizations. The survey of 878 New York residents found that 50.8 percent of them think all public school students should take the annual state assessments; 23.23 percent think parents should not allow their children to take the assessments; and 25.97 percent were altogether unsure.
- State Ed. Commissioner: Common Core Tests To Be Shorter - New York state's education commissioner says the Common Core tests to be given in the spring will be shorter than in previous years.
- Voters closely divided over test opt outs - Opting out students from standardized tests drew mixed reviews from New York voters. After an unprecedented 20 percent of students last April sat out state exams, New York are evenly divided over whether it's the right thing to do, a Quinnipiac University poll found.
- Education chief Elia gets input from faculty in Cairo forum - It will be another whole school year before New York's controversial standardized tests receive a major revamp, but the state's new education commissioner said that teacher feedback being gathered this year may influence the exams in the spring.
- Schools denied chance at Blue Ribbon awards because of test opt-outs - Nineteen schools in New York State were nominated earlier this year. Eleven schools have been disqualified due to high numbers of students refusing to take Common Core tests.
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