New York's legislature wants to allow schools to evade state tests in favor of subjective and nebulous "portfolio assessments." The NYT, to its credit, editorializes against the plan.
Were these tests really that rigorous?
New York moved to the forefront of the national standards movement in education during the 1990's when the State Board of Regents raised standards and required rigorous new tests for public school students. The policy is beginning to yield impressive results, especially in inner-city areas. But a bill in the State Legislature could strangle reforms by allowing some schools to evade rigorous state tests in favor of subjective evaluations that would make it impossible to judge student progress.
The bill, which has passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly, would extend a temporary waiver that has allowed some schools to use so-called portfolio assessments - in which students are graded and evaluated based on papers, projects, book reports and other work performed over the course of the year. The bill would also require the State Department of Education to develop new portfolio systems that could be used by schools all over the state that wished to evade rigorous testing.