ALBANY, N.Y. (UPDATED) – New York State United Teachers is speaking out against the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to mandate standardized testing for this school year.
On Monday, the Education Department said it will not allow states to cancel standardized testing this year, but it will let states delay the tests or hold them online to provide flexibility during the pandemic.
The Biden administration said states must hold the tests, but can apply to be exempted from certain accountability measures. States may also be allowed to move tests to the summer or fall, or offer shortened tests or online assessments.
The union was pushing to cancel testing because of the unorthodox learning models students have been following during the pandemic.
According to NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, the union strongly rebukes the decision.
“In a year that has been anything but standard, mandating that students take standardized tests just doesn’t make sense,” said Pallotta. “As the educators in the classroom, we have always known that standardized tests are not the best way to measure a child’s development, and they are especially unreliable right now. We need to ensure that our students who have been hit hardest during the pandemic receive the support they need. Sizing up students with inequitable and stressful exams is not the solution.”
In January, NYSUT sent a letter to New York’s education commissioner, Betty Rosa, requesting a federal waiver to cancel Regents exams and other standardized testing for students in third grade through 12th grade, stating, “Without standardized instructional modes there should not be a standardized test at the end of the year.” The letter was sent Jan. 14.
“We have grave concerns that standardized tests at any level can be administered in any sort of equitable way,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene T. DiBrango. “Students deserve better. Regardless of what flexibility the federal government provides, no student should be forced to come to school in person just to take a test.”
The spokesperson for the New York State Education Department, Emily DeSantis, also released the following statement Tuesday:
“USDE informed states last night that it will not grant a blanket waiver for state assessments. While we are disappointed by this decision, we are examining all possible options. Further, USDE made the right call in affirming that no child should be made to come to school to take a state assessment. In addition, USDE agreed to uncouple state assessments from ESSA accountability requirements so that results solely will be used as a measure of student learning.
Given these circumstances, the Department will propose a series of regulatory amendments at the March Board of Regents meeting so Regents Exams would not be required to meet graduation requirements and to cancel any Regents Exam that is not required by USDE to be held. We continue to have discussions with USDE regarding this matter to find a path forward that is best for the health and safety of all New York’s children.”