Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Assessments are Much More Than a Test

Summer is a time to prepare for the upcoming school year, and for our NYS PTA Board of Directors (Board) that includes reviewing resolutions for our upcoming Convention in November, and reviewing and updating position papers.

At our Board meeting held last month, we approved the following position papers that were presented to us by our Resolutions Committee/Advocacy Team taking into account feedback from our members.

The paper on Assessment, Testing and Learning was timely with the release of the Grade 3-8 ELA and Math Assessments last week. Keep in mind that our position is on overall assessments (those used in the classroom), NOT just NYS Assessments.
Assessment is an essential aspect of the learning process since it provides feedback intended to show the level at which instruction should begin, the effectiveness of ongoing learning strategies, and the level of proficiency attained as a result of the instructional process. It is intended to benefit the student, to inform teachers who guide each student’s progress, and to assist parents in understanding how to support their child’s learning. 
There are many types of assessment, with what we know as tests representing only a subset of the numerous assessment tools available. (Please reference the position paper from the link above for specifics.)
Here is a preview of some of the talking points:
All Educators must
  • establish balanced use of assessments to inform instruction without over testing or overemphasizing test performance
  • create and use high quality assessments to measure what is important in a meaningful manner that meets the standards with validity, reliability, fairness, and developmental appropriateness - especially for students with disabilities or new English learners
  • maintain a positive environment for students during assessment/test administration 
  • minimize the use of testing and test preparation so to maximize the learning environment and support whole child learning 
  • avoid the use of a single test or single assessment measure for the placement, promotion, or retention of a student, or within high stakes decisions affecting students 
  • establish developmentally appropriate seat time when assessing students
  • use assessment as part of a holistic improvement of learning and strategic planning for the individual student, groups of students and school systems, rather than using assessment results for punishment or competition
  • never use standardized multiple-choice tests and school readiness tests with preschool and early elementary children for any purpose 
We ask that you also review our position papers on Educating the Whole Child and Juvenile Justice in New York State. They are very important and are representative of our balance as an association to address all aspects of a child at school, at home and within the community.

A big thank you to the Resolutions Committee/Advocacy Team who worked diligently and passionately on these position papers.


Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!