State Looking to Reduce Number of Tests

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New York State education officials are taking steps to reduce the number of standardized tests in favor of less test prep and more "quality instruction" time. 

In a letter to superintendents, Education Commissioner John King said he would like to eliminate double testing for eighth-graders. Students taking accelerated math now take both the Regents algebra exam and the federally required Grade 8 math exam. The Board of Regents is directing King to secure a waiver to use only the Regents exam.

"I recognize that a variety of pressures at the state and local level may have resulted in more testing than is needed and in rote test preparation that crowds out quality instruction," King wrote.

The Board of Regents is considering eliminating other tests where possible in other grades, King said, as well as looking at reducing tests for English language learners and for disabled students. Some tests, however, are required by the federal government. Grants also will be provided to help school districts reduce local standardized tests.

"Students are best prepared to succeed academically through rigorous and engaging instruction, not rote test preparation," King stated. "Teaching is the core of our work. The goal is not to create more tests or more teaching to the tests."

The change follows a decade of criticism by teachers, their unions and groups of parents aimed at the Board of Regents as it raised academic and teaching standards. Most recently, a group of parents and teachers have asked for King's resignation as he implements the Common Core learning standards that further raise standards for students and affect teachers' job evaluations

"The Regents and the department will continue to look for ways to reduce testing that is not needed without sacrificing the valuable information assessments provide," King told the superintendents in more than 700 school districts. "We welcome your input."


With reporting from the Associated Press