New York head of education acknowledged Wednesday that the newly released data on student achievement in 2015 spring tests may be inaccurate since one-fifth of the 3rd through 8th graders declined to attend the tests. Nevertheless, the final results showed a slight improvement in general student performance.
Last year, only 5 percent of students declined to sit for the Common Core-aligned tests, but this year that number jumped to 20 percent, or 200,000 students, due to a state-wide protest against New York state’s blind trust in standardized testing to assess overall student and teacher achievement.
Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia recently told reporters that the notable absence of students at spring tests would greatly affect the results. She also noted that students who chose to stay home and not take the tests are usually those that scored poorly in other sessions.
The commissioner seemed upset that this year the state won’t have enough data to improve the Common Core learning standards, which were set in place to help students learn what domain they should master and develop critical thinking.
Ms. Elia explained that you cannot have a plan if you fail to have the necessary information at “your fingertips.”
But one of the largest teachers unions in New York thinks otherwise. The head of the New York State United Teachers said that the tests provided no “meaningful” insights on students or teachers and that they weren’t even worth the paper they were printed on. That’s because the standardized tests managed by Pearson are both poorly edited and age inappropriate, the NYSUT chief added.
But Pearson will be replaced by another contractor, Questar Assessment, by the end of the year when its contract expires. The head of New York State Council of School Superintendents Robert Lowry believes that student absence at sprig tests may be drastically reduced if testing would be perceived by both teachers and parents as a way to produce real results in children.
This year’s results showed that New York students are doing better in math than in English language arts but on average they lack proficiency in both subjects. Only 38.1 scored high enough to be deemed in math, and only 31 percent did that in English language arts.
The results also showed that Latinos and African Americans had lower scores than their white peers, a trend that remained unchanged since the first introduction of the standardized tests. Experts explained that the poor results reflected the effects poverty has on minority children.
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