Marla Kilfoyle is a National Board Certified Teacher and a leader of the Badass Teachers Association. She is also the parent of a 12-year-old public school student. She was surprised to hear Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch say that teachers and parents need the state tests because of their diagnostic value. In this post, she explains to Chancellor Tisch why the state tests have no diagnostic value. Her post contains a typical state test report to parents. It was returned months after the test, when the student has a new teacher. It has scores on it, but no description of the student’s weaknesses or strengths in any particular area. In the example she gives, the parents learn that their child scored a 1, the lowest ranking, but nothing about where the child needs extra help.

She compares the lack of diagnostic information on the New York State report to another test administered to students. It is called WIAT (Wechsler Individual Test). This test breaks down each student’s test performance on specific skills. It is returned to parents in less than a month. (The WIAT is owned by Pearson, which also created the non-informative New York annual tests.)

Kilfoyle is upset by Chancellor Tisch’s description of the opt out movement as a labor dispute. The many thousands of parents whose children refused the tests were not acting on behalf of the teachers’ union. They were acting as parents concerned about subjecting their children to a useless test.