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New testing schedule shows more time taking tests in all grades

Elementary and middle school students across the state will sit for nearly six hours of math and reading tests this spring.

The total number of testing minutes has more than doubled in the last two years for third- and fifth-graders and is higher than last year in all grades, according to the state’s assessment schedule, which it released today. On average, students will spend an hour longer taking tests in 2012 than they did last April.

The total testing time is far lower than threatened in an SED memo that was leaked last month, which suggested that students might spend more than two hours in a single day taking tests. (The state’s seven-year testing chief resigned abruptly days after the leak.) But it still reflects a sharp increase as the state works to toughen tests following a 2010 revelation that previous scores had been vastly inflated.

In April, all students in elementary and middle school will spend three days each on reading and math exams. Last year, each test lasted only two days, with the exception of elementary-grade reading tests.

The testing changes could be minor compared with what happens in 2013, when the state is planning to connect its tests to new curriculum standards known as the Common Core. This year’s tests will include “field” questions that the state is trying out for the Common Core-aligned tests; their answers will be tallied for informational purposes but not factored into students’ scores.

Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said the new schedule was an improvement over the one that leaked last month but still reflected too much testing.

“The underlying issue remains the same: the last thing New York’s kids need is more testing,” he said in a statement.

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