Your April 16 editorial “Test information vital: State assessments will show what went right/wrong last year” suggests that standardized exams would be a useful measure of student achievement this spring. I must disagree.
Let’s be clear educators are trained in measuring achievement on a local level, where they routinely develop exams or assessments like portfolio projects. The notion that standardized exams are somehow the only way to judge the effectiveness of classroom instruction ignores the underlying flaws with the tests that have been given in recent years. Notably, educators have reported that the tests feature materials above grade level, and we believe the scoring benchmarks used are deeply flawed.
A standardized test also does nothing to help identify or address students’ social-emotional needs when we know many students have experienced new levels of trauma this year, perhaps having seen a loved one get sick or a parent lose work.
Parents deserve basic information about what opting their children out of these exams means. What they do with that information is their right. Regardless, worthwhile discussions about, as your editorial puts it, “how to fine-tune the way education is delivered under emergency circumstances” is exactly what New York’s educators want to be part of.
As highly trained education professionals, we can have that conversation with our communities without using flawed standardized exams as a starting point.
Jolene T. DiBrango
Executive Vice President
New York State United Teachers