Federal Mandated High-Stakes Testing During Pandemic

Oct 6, 2020 by

The New York State Education Department as of now still intends on inflicting high-stakes math and ELA standardized tests this spring.  This is despite the universally conceded and glaringly obvious fact that, to no fault of students or educators, the school year has so far been a bust and learning has been minimal at best. 

The city’s DOE ineptitude, always epic, has reached new historic levels.  It has already botched this young school year so badly that the rest of it is a write-off, for learning purposes, though it will still be possible to contract illness during this remote/distance/ hybrid instructional chaos.

The rancid assurance that testing will be done “in a fair, equitable and safe manner” is just another bill of goods being sold to a gullible or at least largely unsuspecting public. The situation is already so far gone that it will be impossible to meet these conditions, no matter what the future brings.

The cruelties of nature have been aggravated by human incompetence. But providing false hope and churning out reality-tainted promises is the stock in trade of the DOE’s public relations office.

Students will be required to be physically in the school building to take these tests, if and when they’re given.  All students have so far either not been in school at all this school year or attend one or two days each week. 

They are being taught online using many platforms, echoing microphones, freezing images and innumerable other glitches and are subjected to the charade of performance assessment as the system stumbles through its pathetic motions of feigning viability.

Closing the schools down for the entire year as China did during its ‘cultural revolution” is not an option for us.  But at least the federal government can scrub high-stakes testing requirements for this year, rather than codify a dirty lie through arbitrary regulation.

The DOE can be let off the hook if it applies for a waiver and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos grants it. But expecting that from DeVos is a stretch too far.  If denied, the DOE should outright renounce the tests and refuse to administer them.

This is the season for courageous defiance.

If the DOE isn’t up to the challenge of honorable protest, there is another pathway.  Parents should opt out their children from taking these high-stakes tests, at least during this pandemic year.  The law allows it.

We have the power to contravene those authorities that exhibit no grace or judgement.

Ron Isaac

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