New York State moves 3-8 testing to May

It started with a question on a listserv, sort of like a rumble in the background. I spent a lovely day doing program design and then visiting The Cloisters in New York City. My cell phone battery died mid-morning so I missed the rumble rising to a dull roar. By time I got home and back on-line, the roar had crested and the conversations regarding implications already in progress.

All New York State students in Grades 3-8 will be taking the mathematics and English Langauge Arts assessments in May beginning next year.

The rumor was confirmed on the DATAG listserv with the following message:
Johanna Duncan Poitier just sent out a special edition issue of News and Notes which provides important updates from the June meeting of the Board of Regents to District Superintendents, Superintendents of Schools, Administrators of Charter and Nonpublic Schools, and Other Partners which included a confirmation of the Regents action earlier today moving the 3-8 ELA and Math assessments to May starting next year.
I’m sure more will be released in the coming days, including guidance on how schools should handle administration, scoring, data reporting, and other aspects of the assessments. To hear what others were thinking, I connected with my PLN on Twitter and Facebook and the responses were similar. Lots of surprise that we went from survey to action so quickly, panic at the thought of 3rd graders sitting through 5 straight days of testing, and bafflement about what it will look like in practice. Talking through the consequences has been fascinating. Some of the comments from conversations are below. I liked to the author's blog when possible:

Positive Consequence: Teachers can now teach Math and ELA all year long. April Spring Break can provide a natural break between teaching content and teaching students test sophistication or test wise-ness.

Negative Consequence: Eighth graders may conceivably be testing (Math, ELA, Science, and SS) more than learning during the month of May. (Angela)

Positive: The assessments can be viewed as a one-shot deal that happens at the end of the year. A chance to show off what you know, like the big kids in high school.

Negative: A nine year old probably won’t see it that way. (Theresa)

Positive: Weather is less likely to impact testing administration.

Negative: Scoring all assessments at the same time might lead to more than one testing and assessment coordinator cowering in a corner, whimpering.

Positive: The media will report on test data once a year, rather than twice. (Erin)

Negative: People may perceive this as a response to the increase in scores. A way to shake things up so students don't get to used to the test.

I expect the conversation will crest again as the press reports the change. I, like many others, have lots of questions. I wonder how students feel about the change. Were students given the chance to respond to the survey? Angela wonders if it's time to combine ELA and Social Studies into one assessment. What about the impact on final exams, especially given the recent article in The Buffalo News about schools using SED scores in student averages? ... and more more.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I'm a third grade teacher. Changing the date of the tests will mean completely restructuring our plans for next year. Why wasn't this information given to us before we spent so much time scheduling next years units of study? Also, we are supposed to prep ELA and math at the same time? That guarantees that no learning (besides test prep) will be going on for at least April and May. Totally crappy.
Classic DOE move.

Theresa G said...

And the buzz continues to grow! We have a regional meeting of curriculum folks today where we will be discussing the upcoming change. Many are surprised at the quick action and wondering why, if this was a possibility for the upcoming year, a draft calendar isn't already in our hands. Others, who use their superintendent conference days to score, are now in panic mode about how they are going to get scoring done. Others - still reacting negatively to the Regents comment that our tests aren't rigorous enough and that is why there was such a large upswing in 3-8 scores this year - have completely lost faith in the system and all arguments that supported NYSED have vanished.
It is an amazing world that we live in and I still wonder whose best interest this change was in: the adults or the kids?