New York Schools Institute Universal Assessment

The necessity to assess students is irrefutable. In fact, a lot of people believe that formal assessments are the only way to tell how a student is progressing, and teachers feel pressured to teach to the test. For many educators, part of their paycheck is based on how well students score on standardized tests. Fortunately for students and teachers alike, New York Public Schools recognize the need to not only assess them fairly and accurately, but also see the necessity of offering various kinds of tests to be used at the teachers’ discretion.

New York Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein recently announced that all schools will have access to a range of flexible periodic assessment tools to help them track students’ progress in English Language Arts and math starting in the 2007-08 school year. It’s interesting and encouraging that the Chancellor recognizes the need for these tools. Perhaps even more interesting is the motivation behind them.

“Teachers have always used assessments to monitor their students’ progress. Now they’ll be able to find out quickly exactly what [New York Schools] students are learning and where they need more help,” Chancellor Klein said. “These tools are quicker and more accurate than what … [New York Schools] have today. They’ll make it easier for our educators to tailor instruction to meet the individual needs of every student.”

The New York Schools Department of Education (DOE) has encouraged schools to use these kinds of no-stakes assessments since 2003. The 2007-2008 school year will be the first time that all New York Schools will have easy access to a menu of “differentiated assessment tools” rather than pre-packaged exams that do not necessarily match the needs of individual teachers and students.

It’s important for schools and teachers to decide for themselves what kinds of assessments to use. Being able to choose their tools of assessment will enable New York Schools teachers more freedom of movement within their curriculum (how and when subjects will be taught) by freeing them from a high-stress testing date that only occurs once a year for all New York Schools students.

New York Schools can choose any combination of the new periodic assessment tools as long as they are assessing students five times a year in grades 3-8 and four times a year in high school in both English Language Arts and math. This policy must be intended to ensure that New York Schools teachers are actually using the new tools. This use should also give educators the opportunity to provide feedback to the New York Schools Chancellor and his staff on what works, what doesn’t, and what they want to see more of.

Naturally, the leaders of New York Schools have the best interests of the students at heart, and want to provide the best possible education along with the means to assess the students’ achievement.

New York Schools Institute Universal Assessment 9.4 of 10 on the basis of 1989 Review.