Sunday, April 14, 2013

Innovations in Testing

By design.

New York public school students and parents are, by now, accustomed to standardized tests. But a pall has settled over classrooms across the state because this year’s tests, which begin Tuesday, are unlike any exams the students have seen. They have been redesigned and are tougher. And they are likely to cover at least some material that has yet to make its way into the curriculum.


The sink-or-swim approach is of particular concern to students (and their parents) in the fourth and seventh grades, whose scores could determine where they go to middle or high school in 2014. “It really makes me nervous,” said Patrick Timoney, a seventh grader at Intermediate School 2, on Staten Island. “It’s a big deal and if you don’t get a good grade, it’s not the best.”


Statistically speaking, city officials said, people should not worry too much about falling marks because everyone is taking the same new tests. Schools, students and teachers will be judged against one another.

As Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city’s chief academic officer, told parents on Staten Island: “Everyone is in the same boat.”

Some students have nicer boats, as in the greater parental involvement and private tutors that wealthier kids are more likely to have.