The New York City Council Thinks Standardized Tests Suck, Too


In a move that is expected to be popular with school children across the city, the New York City Council passed a unanimous resolution Tuesday declaring its opposition to high-stakes standardized testing.

“The over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools,” the resolution said, “including the narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing the love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate.”

It went on to detail the negative effects standardized tests have on students, and disproportionally, on low-income students, English language learners, minority students, and students with disabilities. Anti-test advocacy groups like FairTest, Change the Stakes, and Time Out From Testing celebrated the move.

Don’t get too excited yet, though. The City Council doesn’t get to choose whether or not students will have to submit to most tests, including the Regents exams. Those decisions are made in Albany by the New York State Department of Education, which is why the council’s resolution isn’t one banning standardized testing altogether (that’d be great, right?), it just calls on the D.O.E., the state legislature, and the governor to reconsider testing.

Happily, getting rid of some standardized tests is something the D.O.E. was already considering. In October, state Education Commissioner John King said the department was planning to phase out a number of tests, including the eighth grade reading test. (Certain tests taken by New York City students are also federally mandated, so don’t expect those to go anywhere soon.)

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is a standardized-testing skeptic himself. At a parents forum in May, de Blasio declared, “I would put the standardized testing machine in reverse. It is poisoning our system.” The mayor-elect has also promised to overhaul the system that uses one test to determine which students will be admitted the city’s most elite schools.

De Blasio has yet to announce his selection of chancellor, but the leading candidates for the job are of a similar mind. Top prospect Carmen Farina rejected standardized testing as the most important measure of when she was superintendent of District 15. Joshua Starr, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, has also called for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing.

Read the full text of the resolution [

Resolution 1394