In an article in Long Island Business News, three members of the New York State Board of Regents criticized the state tests, on which 70% of the state’s students failed to meet “proficiency.” They said, the students didn’t fail, the tests failed. The tests have questions that are above the students’ understanding, there is not enough time to finish, they have questions that are confusing and intended to lure students to the wrong answer.

Regent Kathleen Cashin, an experienced educator, said the tests may be neither valid nor reliable. Regent Judith Johnson, an experienced educator, said that students are fearful that their teachers will be fired if they do poorly on the tests.

Members of the Board of Regents at their meeting last Monday said the tests, due to poor design and process, may be doing damage. Rather than setting high standards, they may simply be failing to measure education, progress and skills.
“I’ve heard horror stories that, as I said to teachers, we did not hear in previous years,” Regent Judith Johnson said. “We’ve been testing forever. There are new stories that are coming out in greater numbers than ever before.
She said students are worried their teachers will be fired, if and when they do poorly on these tests – raising the stakes even higher than anticipated.
“How do we convert this notion that children have now acquired that their teachers’ livelihood depends on children’s performance in a classroom?” Johnson said, referring to the state’s comments regarding the use of results.”

Ken Wagner of the state education department defended the tests.

He said:

“He also suffers over the pain some students feel.
“If there’s anything I struggle with around assessments, it is the notion that students are crying or getting sick over the idea of taking tests,” he said. “That is s antithetical to my philosophy of how to work with children and to my assessment about what assessments are supposed to do.”
Wagner said the tests themselves are not necessarily the source of this stress, but rather the perception of them as an unrelenting and difficult master.
“It’s just an opportunity, an opportunity for them to come to the testing moment and show us what they can do and what they can’t yet do,” he said, “so the adults can help figure out how to move them from point A to point B.”

Regent Betty Rosa, an experienced educator, “said that these tests, far from being rigorous, fail to measure progress, but do damage by creating a pervasive aura of perceived failure – when the tests themselves may be what are failing.

The exams have become a failure factory, finding 70 percent of students falling short of what the test maker describes as the acceptable standard.
“At the end of it, try to pick them up. Tell them, ‘Don’t worry. You failed. But don’t worry. Next year you’ll have another opportunity,” Rosa said. “I think it’s a disservice. I think we are not being honest. I think we are not facing reality.”
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