Common Sense in NYC

NYC is about to adopt a new promotion policy in K12 schooling that no longer uses state accountability tests as a decisive factor in student promotion from one grade to another. The tests will still be a factor, but a poor test score alone will no longer block advancement to the next grade. Instead, the test score will be one element in a larger portfolio of student work that teachers and principals will review to decide whether a student is ready for promotion to the next grade.

NYC had allowed students with low test scores to use a portfolio to appeal being held back on the basis of test score, but the policy required approval by the teacher, the principal, and the NYC schools chancellor’s designee.

If only Chicago had such a policy in place. Since 1996, Chicago Public Schools has used standardized and later state test scores as a decisive factor in deciding promotions in grades 3, 6, and 8. If the standardized test score was too low, regardless of grades, students had to attend summer school. There was no opportunity to retake the test before summer school, against the recommendation of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing standard 13.6:

Students who must demonstrate mastery of certain skills or knowledge before being promoted or granted a diploma should have a reasonable number of opportunities to succeed on equivalent forms of the test or be provided with construct-equivalent testing alternatives of equal difficulty to demonstrate skills or knowledge.



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