This week New York City students in grades 3 through 8, with their No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils nervously in hand, are struggling through the math portion of the annual New York state tests. Once again, these scores — along with their English Language Test results from last week — will determine crucial educational outcomes in their lives.
In this elementary and middle school equivalent of “who will live and who will die,” these tests often decide whether a child can advance to the next grade, be held back or be required to attend summer school.
But this high-stakes testing has enormous implications for teachers and entire school communities as well. Mayor Bloomberg has repeatedly and publicly called for teachers to be evaluated based on these test scores. And his Department of Education has closed down more than 100 New York City public schools predominantly because their students did not perform well on the high-stakes tests.
All this, despite the fact that high-stakes testing results have been criticized as unreliable.