July 5, 2013
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – The NYC Department of Education (DOE) has notified thousands of students, including some with passing and even excellent academic records, that they have not been promoted to the next grade. Shocked parents, teachers and principals have been left scrambling to keep children from being unfairly held back.
Unlike the rest of New York State, the city bases promotion decisions for 3rd to 8th graders on test scores from the annual state English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams, regardless of student performance throughout the year. Yet since 2010, when the state began administering tests in April and May instead of January and March, promotion decisions in NYC have been based on preliminary test results because final scores are not released until mid to late summer. This has meant that some students are required to attend summer school and denied the opportunity to participate in graduation ceremonies, even though their final test scores will qualify them for promotion.
This year’s uncertainty about student promotion was compounded by the introduction of state exams based on the “Common Core Learning Standards,” to which students, teachers are principals were unprepared for this experimental project. To add to the confusion caused by over testing, thousands of children are forced to attend summer school because of preliminary results from experimental exams.
It's no wonder that parents, teachers and principals in NYC and across the country are increasingly skeptical about the reliance on standardized tests to make high-stakes decisions about the performance of students and teachers.
*Neal is the Publisher of LaborPress and a former NYC teacher and school administrator.