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Tri-State Area Educators, Parents Disappointed Federal Education Department Is Mandating Standardized Testing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The 2020-2021 school year and its challenges are unlike anything students have experienced before.

Nevertheless, the federal Education Department released its guidelines mandating standardized testing.

CBS2's Hazel Sanchez spoke with educators and parents who say it's simply not fair.

Fourth grader Nathaniel Blanchard says he was hoping to get a break from state assessment tests this year.

"It's like reviewing everything you did in the past six, five months, so it's just, like, really stressful," he said.

But the U.S. Department of Education is mandating schools administer standardized tests, not for the purposes of accountability, but rather to inform parents and educators about student performance and to find inequities in schools, their needs and how to meet those needs.

"I just think that the kids have been through so much already, so why add the stress of standardized tests?" one parent said.

The USDE is suggesting states push testing to summer or fall, shorten the exam or give it remotely.

The New York State teachers union hoped the standardized exam would just be dropped.

"What we would have liked to have seen was a determination that would have allowed the teachers that know the children the best this year to create locally developed assessments to be able to measure the children," said Jolene DiBrango, with New York State United Teachers.

"In a year that has been anything but standard, mandating that students take standardized tests just doesn't make sense," NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said in a statement. "As the educators in the classroom, we have always known that standardized tests are not the best way to measure a child's development, and they are especially unreliable right now. We need to ensure that our students who have been hit hardest during the pandemic receive the support they need. Sizing up students with inequitable and stressful exams is not the solution."

"Schools shouldn't have to be purchasing materials. We have teachers, we have districts who can do this work," said New York City public school teacher Dermott Myrie.

States can request a waiver for the 2020-2021 school year. Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced New Jersey will submit its request.

The New York State Department of Education says it's considering its options, saying it's disappointed the USDE isn't offering a blanket waiver for state assessments.

The state DOE released the following statement --

"USDE informed states last night that it will not grant a blanket waiver for state assessments. While we are disappointed by this decision, we are examining all possible options. Further, USDE made the right call in affirming that no child should be made to come to school to take a state assessment. In addition, USDE agreed to uncouple state assessments from accountability measures so no school will be affected by the results of state assessments and the results will solely be used as a measure of student learning. Given these circumstances, the Department will propose a series of regulatory amendments at the March Board of Regents meeting so Regents Exams would not be required to meet graduation requirements and to cancel any Regents Exam that is not required by USDE to be held. We continue to have discussions with USDE regarding this matter to find a path forward that is best for the health and safety of all New York's children."

Bergen County, New Jersey, teacher and mom of three Jennifer Grom says the tests are a waste of time.

"Parents don't want this, educators don't want this, and it's scientifically impossible that these tests are going to yield reliable valid usable data. Who's being served by this?" she said.

That's an answer some teachers, parents and students are still trying to figure out.

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