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Teachers call for computer-based exams and school data specialists in testing report

Schools should switch to computer-based tests that adapt to students’ skill levels, the city should designate a teacher “data specialist” in every school, and the state should not require students to pass every Regents exam to graduate.

Those are some of the recommendations in a new report on testing by 14 members of Educators 4 Excellence – New York, a network of district and charter school teachers who support a set of policies, including performance pay for teachers, evaluations that factor in test scores, and the Common Core standards.

The report recommends the use of so-called computer-adaptive tests, which adjust the difficulty of questions in real time based on students’ answers, as a way to better measure the abilities of below or above-level students. While some city schools might have the necessary technology to administer such tests, many do not. Meanwhile, the state has put off deciding whether to switch to a computer-based Common Core test, but the one it is considering is not adaptive.

To help schools base more decisions on information gathered from student assessments, the report calls for a teacher in every building to act as a data specialist. This person would receive training and compensation to help their peers base lessons and students interventions on classroom data, the report says.

Another recommendation calls for the state to reform its graduation system, where otherwise competent students who struggle to pass a single Regents test can be denied a diploma. State policymakers have considered adding new diploma options that allow students in special vocational, math and science, and arts programs to substitute a final project for one of the Regents tests, but such options have yet to be approved.

Read the full report below or here.

None of the Above: A New Approach to Testing and Assessment

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