NYC Public School Students Can Skip State Tests This Year With No Penalties

New York City public school officials are encouraging students in grades 3-8 to opt out of state assessments this year with no penalties, with families required to notify their schools if they want to take tests.

Otherwise, all students are by default not participating in the state tests this year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.

The new policy is only for this school year, the DOE said, in recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of education.

The deadline for students to sign up for state testing are April 15th for the Grades 3-8 ELA test, April 29th for the Grades 3-8 Mathematics test, and May 28th for the Grades 4 and 8 Science test. All students, whether enrolled in remote or hybrid learning, can sign up for testing.

Under state guidelines, schools will be able to administer the tests over several dates starting with the Grades 3-8 ELA test from April 19th to the 29th. The Grades 3-8 Mathematics test will be administered May 3rd to the 14th, and Grades 4 and 8 Science test administered from June 7th to 11th.

“We recognize that our students are facing many different circumstances due to the pandemic and in accordance with New York State Education Department guidance, we will be offering State exams in-person for those families who are interested in having their children participate,” said Chancellor Meisha Porter in a statement. “Schools will send information about how families can sign up, and we will work closely with our school communities as they prepare to safely administer tests to those who choose to participate this year.”

New York City students typically take the state tests each year in third through eighth grade and once in high school, to provide data on student learning and to identify and intervene in lower performing schools.

Last year, the federal Education Department allowed states to skip the mandated testing because of the pandemic. But the Biden Administration has directed states to resume standardized tests this year, though states are given flexibility in how they administer the tests, and the extent to which individual schools are held accountable for results.

Multiple states, including New York and New Jersey, asked to waive standardized test requirements again this year because of how challenging they are to administer during the pandemic, but federal officials have said the tests need to resume in order to gauge potential learning loss.

Students who come for testing will be asked to follow safety protocols such as social distancing and masks, and must complete a health screening survey to enter the school building, the DOE said.