History of State Testing in New York

Adapted from the PS 321 Testing Task Force

2005
Testing in 4th and 8th grade only
Tests released in entirety
Tests not a factor in teacher evaluations

Sample 2005 Grade 3 English exam questions. (By comparison, see these sample 2013 English exam questions.)

2006
Annual testing in grades 3-8 begin
ELA: 75 minutes/Math: 85 minutes
Tests released in entirety
Tests not a factor in teacher evaluations

2010
ELA: 75 minutes/Math: 85 minutes
Tests released in entirety
RED FLAG: NY State adopts new teacher evaluation law requiring that 20% be based on student growth on state assessments. Another 20% is based on student achievement in local measures, and 60% based on observations.

2011
Tests start getting longer:
GRADE 3: ELA: 150 minutes/Math: 100 minutes
GRADE 4: ELA: 150 minutes/Math: 140 minutes
GRADE 5: ELA: 150 minutes/Math: 110 minutes

Teacher evaluations are based in part on test scores. Teacher evaluations (known as Teacher Data Reports, or TDR) were released to news media, with caveat that the margins of error ranged from 35 to 53%.

Testing companies started embedding field test questions in the standardized tests, in addition to giving stand alone field tests.

2012
Tests time reaches epic lengths:
GRADE 3: ELA: 270 minutes, Math: 270 minutes (9 hours testing!!)
GRADE 4: ELA: 270 minutes, Math: 270 minutes (9 hours testing!!)
GRADE 5: ELA: 270 minutes, Math: 270 minutes (9 hours testing!!)
Under the new Pearson contract, tests are no longer released to parents or teachers. No one is able to see the questions or the way an individual child answered them, even once scores have been released.

The “Pineapple and Hare” test passage focuses media attention on the poor quality of the test. This passage had been on Pearson’s tests since 2006 but was pulled once the media discovered it.

Pearson made more than $880 million in 2012 from its North American Education division, up from under $800 million in 2011.

2013  
Test times reduced, in response to criticism:
GRADE 3: ELA: 210 minutes, Math: 210 minutes (7 hours testing)
GRADE 4: ELA: 210 minutes, Math: 230 minutes (7.5 hours testing)
GRADE 5: ELA: 270 minutes, Math: 270 minutes (9 hours testing)

NYC Requires K-2 Standardized Testing

2014
Test time reduced again:
GRADE 3: ELA: 210 minutes/Math: 190 minutes (6 hours 40 minutes)
GRADE 4: ELA: 210 minutes/Math: 210 minutes (7 hours)
GRADE 5: ELA: 270 minutes/Math: 250 minutes (8 hours 40 minutes)

NY State Principals: Letter To Parents is signed by 557 NY State Principals and 3500 supporters:

Several months later, the New York State Teachers Union (NYSUT) filed a lawsuit challenging the “gag order.”

“Teachers must be free to protect their students and speak out when they have concerns about state tests,” New York State United Teachers president Karen E. Magee said of the federal suit filed in Albany. “Instead, they are under a ‘gag order’ to be silent — and that is hurting children.

2015
GRADE 3: ELA: 210 minutes/Math: 190 minutes (6 hours 40 minutes)
GRADE 4: ELA: 210 minutes/Math: 210 minutes (7 hours)
GRADE 5: ELA: 270 minutes/Math: 250 minutes (8 hours 40 minutes)

Cuomo’s administration passes a new law, the Education Transformation Act of 2015, that increases the weight of test scores to 50%, mandates outside evaporators, and prohibits schools from using other evidence to evaluate teacher quality (such as examples of student work, curriculum the teacher created, or parent or students surveys).

Sheri G. Lederman is a veteran teacher suing New York state education officials over the controversial method they used to evaluate her as “ineffective”.

220,000 Opt Outs in New York State. That is 20% statewide. Here in New York city opt out numbers rose from 350 students to more than 7,900. Brooklyn District 15 had the highest opt out rates in NYC.

A Cuomo-appointed task force issues a report recommending a moratorium on using state scores to rate teachers but does nothing to actually change the law. The general consensus among activists is that the report is largely a public relations effort bound to have little actual impact on teachers, students, and schools.

2016

State Math and ELA will no longer have time limits. Test length has been reduced by roughly 12% from 2015 but is still expected to take students about 7 hours (3rd grade) or 9 hours (5th grade and up).  See the ELA chart and Math chart to compare test length in 2016 to 2015.

ELA-Mathquestions

The use of state test scores for teacher evaluations has been temporarily suspended through 2019. However, school districts are now required to administer ADDITIONAL standardized tests (on top of the state tests) for the explicit purpose of evaluating teachers. During this supposed “moratorium,” teachers can still be fired due to student test scores and schools can still be tagged as “failing” and placed into receivership (risking closure).  More info here.

 

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