A Double Whammy for New York Students

Students in New York State are halfway through the testing madness that has taken away much of their recent instruction time. When you add in test review and preparation, our children have lost so many educational opportunities.

Sadly, even after the assessments are over the harm continues. As students await their math exams that will eat up 270 minutes this week, many of their teachers have disappeared.

What happened to our teachers?

Some teachers from around New York State are being pulled from their classrooms to score the ELA exam. Is your child receiving the quality education as a result? In some cases the teacher may be out for two days to grade the assessments.

In a local middle school, the demand for substitute teachers was so great that they could not find any more replacements. As a result students from multiple classes were sent to the auditorium for a massive study hall instead of instruction. Now imagine the financial cost of hiring dozens of substitute teachers at around $100 each. This money is not reimbursed by NYSED, so this is another costly mandate for local districts.

Other option that some districts choose is to declare a day or two as staff development and cancel school. While students are kept home, teachers work to score the assessments. This will save districts money, but comes at an educational cost as children miss more school.

The scoring portion of the state assessments is one of the unknown parts of high-stakes testing that many parents and the general public are unaware of as the educational and financial harm of state assessments extends past the twelve day testing window in April.


  1. My first grader is feeling the pinch too as they have been doubling up and moving around all week to deal with coverage. This on top of the fact that, while a great reader, she continue to breakdown crying at the level of math homework she has. Either she is not being taught, or she is not getting the mastery she needs, either way she is being deprived of playtime to be brought to tears by these “skill and drill” worksheets from “Go Math”.

    I will reach out again to the teacher, but I have a feeling that the result will be that we put our foot down and say “no more” this year. I refuse to have her waste her playtime staring at worksheets or crying from not being able to solve the problems.


  2. We have had teachers pulled from primary school to proctor tests at the intermediate level. More loss of instruction!


  3. In our elementary school alone, (and we have 470 students) all of our grade 3, 4 and 5 teachers will be out for four days!!!! Amazing. That’s four days for my students to be without me, and four days for me to write sub plans. It’s ridiculous! Please make it stop!


  4. I would also like to add with all the test secrecy, it’s important for teachers to at least view some parts of this exam. Our reputations and employment depend on these tests being fair. We should also have rights to the multiple-choice section if indeed we should find ourselves on the chopping block or if a student’s placement in honors classes are denied even with a teacher’s recommendation.


  5. I used to grade this exams in NYC. My school usually hired subs who were well-known to the school and students and with good lesson planning, the continuity of the lessons were intact. I would rather trust teachers who are trained to do mark these tests than Pearson outsiders which is the other alternative. Also, they are now experimenting with using software to mark essays. I doubt computers can pick up on the nuance of a struggling student the way a teacher can.


    1. schoolgal,

      I agree. We need to keep the scoring away from Pearson’s hired amateurs or the computer scanning essay. Awful. It seems in suburban and rural WNY where I am that all the districts score at the same time and a massive sub shortage occurs. Easy solution- get rid of the tests.


  6. “In some cases the teacher may be out for two days to grade the assessments”: If only! In NYC, middle schools must send a minimum of two teachers (large schools must send more) for each of three, five-day scoring sessions (two five-day sessions for the ELA tests, one five-day session for the math tests). That’s the equivalent of thirty instructional days lost for a single school, at minimum. Of course, the DOE allows schools to opt out of sending teachers to score — as long as they can pay! The cost of opting out is greater than the cost of hiring substitutes, so is not in the budget for many schools. Oh, and the first ELA scoring session started yesterday — just before the math exam. So students facing an already anxiety-filled second week of testing begin their week not with quality instruction and familiar routines, but substitute teachers. (If you are thinking, why not hire the subs to grade the tests and keep the teachers in the classrooms? — that’s against DOE, or perhaps state, regulations.


  7. It’s 4 days out of the classroom in my middle school. And the the math teachers are out. Kids who need to take make ups for any parts of the tests will also miss classes during the day. Since I am not math or ELA I will see my students wed-thurs-fri but for 29 minutes a class. Makes it difficult to cover some material, and pacing is shot! It’s like losing two weeks of the year.


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