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Much Of Standardized Testing System Is Out Of City Control

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The role of standardized test has taken on increasing significance in the past decade, and though it's something Bill de Blasio says he wants to change, a lot of the testing system is out of his control. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Ask almost any student in the city, and he or she will tell you that standardized tests are a big deal. Ask many parents and teachers, and they'll tell you that that is a big problem.

One of those parents who's been expressing concern is now the mayor-elect.

"We have to move away from an over-reliance on standardized testing," said Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

As de Blasio spoke out against testing Monday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was discussing the same issue in City Hall, defending the current administration's use of test score data.

"We have to tackle these difficult topics and make sure that we put the systems in place to make sure our students are able to compete," Walcott said.

Most City Council members agree with the mayor-elect and are critical of high-stakes testing, which has ballooned over the past decade.

"There's a lot of build up now, chancellor, that wasn't there when you were younger and I was younger," said City Councilman Mark Weprin of Queens.

"It's this overemphasis on testing that determines so much of how we evaluate schools that is the problem," said City Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens.

However, the city's ability to cut down on testing is limited, since many of the exams are mandated by federal and state authorities.

"There, of course, are legal parameters we have to work within in terms of federal and state law, but within those parameters, we're going to consistently reduce the use of standardized testing and of test prep," de Blasio said.

There are several policies that currently rely on test scores that de Blasio can change and has said he will change, such as the A through F school grades, admissions to gifted and talented programs, and whether students are promoted to the next grade or not.

However, de Blasio won't be able to get rid of standardized tests or stop them from counting towards teachers' evaluations, something new to the city this year and written into state law.

As for how students feel about it all? NY1 had a chance to ask some fourth graders, who happened to stop by the testing hearing while on a field trip to City Hall. When NY1 asked if anyone got nervous for the test last year, every hand shot up.

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