Students in New York City’s public school system, the largest district in the United States, will be able to take standardized tests this year, a process that has been drastically disrupted because of the pandemic. For the first time, New York City will ask families to opt in to state math and English exams, which all students in grades three through eight are typically asked to take during the spring. Last year, those exams were canceled altogether when city schools were shuttered as New York became a global center of the pandemic.
Though some city and state education officials have sought a waiver from the federal government to cancel the exams again this year, President Biden’s administration is requiring states to offer testing. New York’s solution — asking parents to opt their children in to take the test — will no doubt mean that smaller numbers of students will sit for the exams this year compared with numbers of previous years.
The smaller test score data will significantly disrupt at least two years of state testing, which will make it difficult to track student progress over time on those exams. It is not clear whether eighth graders applying to academically selective high schools will need test scores for admission.
A relatively small percentage of city students refuse the exams each year, as part of a national test refusal movement known as opt out. Students learning in-person and remotely who choose to participate in standardized testing will report to their school buildings during their scheduled exam over a range of dates in April and May.