King Tisch Letter | Test (Assessment) | Quality Of Life

the CounCil

Christine C. Quinn Speaker

the City of new york City hall new york, ny 10007

of

Telephone 212-788-7210

May 21, 2013

Dr. John B. King, Jr. Commissioner NYS Education Department 89 Washington Avenue Albany, NY 12234 Hon. Merryl H. Tisch Chancellor NYS Board of Regents 89 Washington Avenue Albany, NY 12234 Dear Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch: As Speaker of the New York City Council and Chair of the Council’s Education Committee, respectively, we are committed to ensuring that all children in New York City have the opportunity to maximize the time they spend learning. It is for that reason that we are asking you to immediately stop the administration of stand-alone field tests. We have heard from parents and teachers across the city who are concerned about stand-alone field tests. To begin with, many families and educators are increasingly frustrated with the national emphasis on standardized testing. They believe that it puts unnecessary pressure on their children and prevents schools from adopting rich, whole child curricula that include social studies, science, physical education, and the arts. Field tests add to this frustration. It is imperative that we have a strong, reliable system in place to measure student progress and assess learning. We also understand that the state ELA and math exams are federally mandated. Stand-alone field tests, however, are not. Field tests disrupt instruction and cause students to lose valuable class time. And while they create another source of anxiety for some students, many students know that these tests “don’t count” and therefore do not give the exams their full focus. As a result, stand-alone field tests do not provide a reliable source of data, as the New York State Education Department noted when they needed to recalibrate the 2009 state exam scores and confirmed in yesterday’s New York Times.

As you most likely know, Pearson recently made two different scoring errors on New York City’s gifted and talented admission test. Those errors were only the most recent incident to cause New York City’s families to lose trust in Pearson. Stand-alone field tests compound that lack of trust, as parents are frustrated that their children lose out on learning time while serving as guinea pigs for a for-profit company. For all of the above reasons, we ask you to cease the administration of stand-alone field testing, effective immediately. If there is sound pedagogical reason to test additional questions, Pearson should pay to create multiple versions of the April state exams, as the NYS Education Department suggested in the Times yesterday, or should compensate students to take field tests outside of school hours. Stand-alone field testing is bad for the students of New York, and we hope you will immediately end their administration. Thank you. Sincerely,

Christine C. Quinn Speaker

Robert Jackson Chair, Education Committee

New York Times article referenced: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/education/to-sharpen-student-testing-another-round-oftests.html?ref=education&_r=0

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