NYS PTA on the 3-8 English Language Arts Assessments

NYS PTA is in the process of reviewing many reports of issues with Wednesday and Thursday’s  3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) Assessments.

We are extremely concerned about technological failures by Questar Assessments, Inc., the vendor who was awarded the NYS testing contract. We are glad that the State Education Department has announced that they will be holding Questar Assessments, Inc. fully accountable for this error.  Reports indicate more than 30,000 students had work lost, or had total system failures when trying to take the assessments on computers. Further, we are aware that bandwidth and other technical issues plagued some school districts who were trying to administer computer based assessments.

It was also disappointing that the state budget was passed without addressing the backlog of Smart Schools Bond Act Plans that have yet to be reviewed or approved.

Students who were unable to finish should not have to re-take these assessments.

Further, we are alarmed at the many reports that some students were testing for multiple hours, some into and past lunch periods.

“For ALL children, the duration must be short, and content must be appropriate for these mandated tests,” offered President Gracemarie Rozea. “While we appreciate the reduction of tests from the previous three days to two days, we must ensure that the remaining testing days are short, and that students are not sitting for multiple hours in testing conditions – especially our earliest learners.”

“As a parent of  a 3rd grader, I fully understand the concern families have on this issue – and know that we will continue to advocate that standardized assessments be limited in quantity, in duration, and developmentally appropriate,” added Executive Director Kyle Belokopitsky.  

We will continue to communicate our concerns and possible solutions with the Education Department and other stakeholders, and will be asking for a review of the length of tests, and of the content again to ensure tests are developmentally appropriate for all children.