Education Department suspends school testing this year

Statewide testing for grades 3 – 8 has been suspended for the remainder of the school year as districts struggle with disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and Interim State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe announced the suspension after New York state United Teachers union and others called for the waiver of state testing mandates for students in grades 3-8.

The joint statement issued Friday afternoon states that “The school closures caused by novel coronavirus are unprecedented and so, we have to make unprecedented decisions for our students. The administrations of the 2020 elementary- and intermediate-level state assessments have been suspended for the remainder of this school year.”

The statement goes on to say that the priority for the Board of Regents and the Department of Education is to ensure that districts provide continuity of instruction for students to the greatest extent possible.

“It is most important that during the time of closure, schools are able to continue to focus their efforts toward local school and community needs, as they have been doing, and not be concerned about state assessments. NYSED has applied for federal waivers for testing, accountability, and reporting requirements,” Rosa said.

Every year, the state administers English language arts, mathematics and science tests to elementary- and middle-school students, which are intended to provide students, families and educators better measures of student proficiency in regards to these subjects.

The testing suspension applies to the following New York state testing programs:

  • New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Test;
  • New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Test;
  • New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test;
  • New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test;
  • New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) in Grades K-12; and
  • New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school.

The teachers union earlier this week argued that, even if schools do re-open in several weeks, students would have dramatically less preparation time for the tests, putting them at a significant disadvantage and radically skewing the results. The tests were set to begin as early as March 24.

“This is not the time to create more stress for our kids,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “It is critical that the federal government step up now and waive mandated state testing for all kids for the rest of this school year and the duration of this crisis.”