According to a report released by The Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz, the New York State tests for grades 3-8 do NOT measure likely readiness for college so why did many of our kids just sit for six days of testing?
“This carefully researched analysis adds a serious dimension to the current debate in New York state on the value of testing in our elementary and middle schools,” said Benjamin Center Director Gerald Benjamin. “The center looks forward to reactions to this work, and consideration by policy makers of its implications.”
A fundamental purpose of the state’s testing programs in grades 3-8, following the adoption of Common Core State Standards, is measuring college readiness, with the goal of creating opportunities to intervene when necessary.
However, the Benjamin Center report finds that estimates of college readiness derived from the NYS Grades 3-8 ELA and math assessments do not align with actual measures of college readiness, such as college remediation rates. O’Donnell argues that this misalignment is a disservice to our students, our teachers and our education system more broadly.
“Measurement is dependent on tools that give a useful result,” O’Donnell writes. “A sprinter has no use for a broken stopwatch; a tailor needs a tape measure that is not torn. If the current NYS Grades 3-8 assessments cannot accurately measure college-readiness − their stated intention − we must ask: what’s the point?”
- The Benjamin Center press release, May 2, 2017
Even if you can not read the full 16 page Benjamin Center report, please read the following portion from the Implications section of the report. Problems still abound related to the state testing, however if you have a student in the class of 2022 or beyond (currently in grade 7 or below), you should be significantly worried.
To be clear, we certainly must address the fact that approximately 50 percent of all New York students do not graduate or graduate without being fully prepared for postsecondary education. This percentage is far too high. But the current NYS Grades 3–8 tests, as demonstrably poor indicators of their stated purpose, will not help us get to where we need to be.
Further, despite the recent moratorium on using NYS Grades 3–8 ELA and math assessment scores to evaluate students or teachers, there are still significant implications that stem from their misalignment with actual college-readiness metrics. First, these assessments are used to characterize the condition of education in NYS and are utilized as a decisive factor in determining which schools are “failing” and, thus, subject to receivership. Second, state- and local-decision makers are encouraged to use the assessment results on an advisory basis in the evaluation of teachers and principals, so the scores will still be calculated, retained, and made public.xxxii This keeps open the possibility that educators will be assessed retroactively when the moratorium is lifted. Finally, New York’s public school students will continue to be subjected to lengthy examinations that are likely to incorrectly label them as off-track for college readiness and provide little-to-no useful feedback to educators.
As we move forward, the stakes get even higher for students. The Class of 2022 will be required to pass CCSS-aligned Regents examinations at the “aspirational” level in order to graduate. The 2015 results on these new exams foretell a coming graduation crisis: 57 percent scored at the aspirational level on the ELA exam, 23 percent on Algebra I, and 24 percent on Geometry.xxxiii If those rates hold, two-thirds or more of the Class of 2022 will not graduate from high school (compare to the Class of 2015 graduation rate of 78 percent). In terms of magnitude, this will mean an overnight loss of more than 90,000 high school graduates, of which 35,000 are fully prepared for college success, using the actual college-readiness metric of non-remediation.