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NYC Schools Chancellor: Students Won’t Be Held Back Over Test Scores Alone

Grades 3-8 Will See A Switch In Emphasis Toward More Of What Happens In Class
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)Chancellor Carmen Farina says New York City’s school system will de-emphasize the importance of standardized test scores in deciding which students must repeat a grade.

Farina said Wednesday that starting this year, teachers and principals will make promotion decisions based on a range of factors, including test scores and classroom work.

“We have listened and worked closely with families, teachers and principals to establish a new promotion policy that complies with State law and empowers educators, takes the temperature down around testing, and keeps rigorous standards in place,” Farina said in a news release. “This new way forward maintains accountability, but mitigates the unintended consequences of relying solely on a single test. Through a comprehensive evaluation of student work using multiple measures, our new policy is a step forward for students, parents, and schools.”

Those standardized state tests have long riddled students with anxiety, and for the past 10 years, throughout the Bloomberg administration, there was a lot riding on the results.

“I do not believe in standardized testing at all,” parent Michelle Lederman said.

Lederman said that the tests put too much pressure on  her 9-year-old twin girls.

“I tried to minimize stress and stress was high and they were being told, this may affect your promotion, this may affect whether you can go to fourth grade, whether you have to go to summer school,” she said.

Passing scores meant kids moved on each school year, while failure meant students would have to stay back.

“My third grader, she does OK in the class, but the test was kind of hard. If they’re going to base it just on that, I don’t want her not to pass,” parent Chantayle Francillon told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.

“Not all people are great test takers, like myself. But other school work or class work may compensate what they’re lacking in test taking,” parent Ashley Chin-Harrison added.

The new policy, which should dial down the pressure on students, affects those in grades 3 through 8.

“It’s absolutely vital that students are ready to succeed in the next grade when they are promoted,” said state Education Commissioner John King Jr. “The best way to do that, as the governor and Legislature have affirmed, is to use multiple measures to make sure students are ready for promotion. We’ll work together with NYCDOE to make sure all our students are on the path to college and career readiness.”

The proposed changes include:

* Teachers identify students who should stay back based on several factors, including state test results

* Teachers create portfolios for those students who need to repeat grades and attend summer school

* Reviews of student work will be in accordance with Common Core criteria

* Superintendents will oversee the entire process

“We’re asking students and teachers to keep portfolios of their work and that they will be evaluated based on those portfolios,” Farina said.

Parents told Schneider they welcome the shift in thinking.

“If they’re doing well in class, then, OK, they should be able to go on to the next grade. I don’t think the test should be the whole thing,” one parent said.

The policy change must be approved by the Panel for Educational Policy at its May 29 meeting.

The teachers’ and principals’ unions praised the policy change.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said changing the promotion policy is “just common sense.”

Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan said the change means children will be treated “more humanely.”

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