WXXI AM News

Teacher unions want more changes to standardized tests

Mar 20, 2017

The Monroe County Federation of Teachers  is calling on New York State to take further action to change the way standardized tests are handled for students in grades 3 through 8.

The federation represents 20 teacher unions and says that  teacher leaders met with state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia last December about their concerns.

The president of the Monroe County federation, Jason Cooney, says they were encouraged by the commissioner's comments, but still feel the state has to do more to make changes to the exams in terms of permanently disconnecting them from teacher evaluations and making other changes, such as having students take the tests based on readiness, not their specific age.

Cooney also says his organization is not taking a particular stance on the issue of whether parents should opt out their children from these exams.

“We don’t take a direct position saying that we want to tell parents what to do; what we’d like the parents to do is to become educated on the idea and do what’s best for them and their student. We would never tell a parent that your only choice is to opt out. But parents have choices, I’m a parent of two students who are in the 3 through 8  band and they haven’t taken the test in four years," he told WXXI News.

The NYS Education Department  also said it is up to parents to decide if their kids should take the tests.

A spokeswoman issued a statement saying that Elia has crisscrossed the state listening to the concerns of parents and teachers, and as a result, the state made significant changes to the exams. That includes reducing the number of questions, increasing teacher involvement in test development and removing time constraints during the tests.