NEW YORK — Public school students will only have to take state standardized tests this year if they sign up for them — a marked change in the usual process, due to the pandemic.
What You Need To Know
- Students in grades 3-8 will only have to take state standardized tests this year if they sign up for them
- In normal years, all students take the exams unless their families decide to opt them out
- The change comes as the federal government has required states to renew testing, despite the pandemic
Typically, all students in grades three through eight take the exams unless their families decide to opt them out. This year, students will have to affirmatively sign up for the exams — and if they don’t, they won’t take them, and won’t be penalized for skipping the tests.
The exams are mandated by federal laws meant to hold school districts accountable for student performance, but those laws don’t require school districts to use the exams as part of a child’s grades or as criteria for promotion or graduation.
Last year, the federal government issued states a waiver allowing them to skip the exams. New York State had sought another waiver this year, but the Biden administration has said it will not grant those requests — and wants districts to give the exams to provide some information about how students are faring academically in the wake of the pandemic.
The exams come at a time when about 70% of city public school students are still learning virtually.
“We recognize that our students are facing many different circumstances due to the pandemic and in accordance with New York State Education Department guidance, we will be offering State exams in-person for those families who are interested in having their children participate,” Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said. “Schools will send information about how families can sign up, and we will work closely with our school communities as they prepare to safely administer tests to those who choose to participate this year."
Both in-person and fully remote students will be able to take the exams if they choose, though they will only be offered in-person.
Students in grades three through eight who want to take the English Language Arts exam have until April 15th to sign up.
Students in grades three through eight who want to take the math exam have until April 29th to sign up.
Students in grades four and eight who want to take the science exam need to sign up by May 28th.
Schools will be given a window to administer the exams, and families will get advanced notice of their test date:
- Grades 3–8 ELA: April 19–29, 2021
- Grades 3–8 Mathematics: May 3–14, 2021
- Grades 4 and 8 Science: June 7–11, 2021
Schools will maintain social distancing and mask wearing during the exams, and students will have to complete a health screening before taking the test.
The changes come as there was some expectation of an increased push for parents to opt out of the exam — and plenty of pushback from educators who have objected to spending time on the exams during the pandemic. In one of his last comments in the job, former schools chancellor Richard Carranza had encouraged parents to think about opting out of the exams this year.