Gail Robinson writes in the HECHINGER Report about the success of the New York Performance Sttandards Consortium. The Consortium has operated for more than 20 years,flying under the radar of the test zealots.

Robinson writes:

“While most New York students must pass state exams in five subjects to graduate, the consortium’s 38 schools have a state waiver allowing their students to earn a diploma by passing just one exam: comprehensive English. (An additional nine schools have a partial waiver.) Instead, in all subjects including English, the students must demonstrate skill mastery in practical terms. They design experiments, make presentations, write reports and defend their work to outside experts.
Getting a waiver is not easy. The number the state grants is limited, and the alternative methods of assessing students can mean far more work for teachers. The schools’ funding is not affected.

“Proponents say the alternative system is worth the effort because it engages students and encourages them to think creatively. They also point to data. According to the consortium, 77 percent of its students who started high school in the fall of 2010 graduated in four years, versus 68 percent for all New York City students.

“Of consortium students who were high school freshmen in 2008, 82 percent graduated by 2014, compared with 73 percent citywide. (All but two of the consortium schools are in the city, versus elsewhere in New York state. One in Rochester brings up the consortium’s rate slightly.)

“The schools have done particularly well getting English language learners and special needs students to graduation. Last year, 71 percent of students learning English at consortium schools graduated on time, versus 37 percent of English learners citywide. The six-year graduation rate for English learners was 75 percent, versus 50 percent for New York City.”

When someone asks you if you have an alternative to our current test-and-punish regime, point to the Consortium.

To learn more about the work of the Consortium, read this and follow the links.