Teachers union chief cites Stuyvesant HS in ripping standardized testing

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten critiqued standardize testing Thursday — and specifically cited the racial makeup of heavily Asian Stuyvesant High School as an example of what’s wrong with the system.

“If you need proof of the limitations of standardized tests, consider that of the 750 students admitted to New York Citys acclaimed Stuyvesant High School this coming fall, only eight are Black and 20 are Latino,” she said during an address. “Similar trends are seen at other selective public high schools requiring admissions exams.”

Along with the city’s other seven specialized high schools, Stuyvesant admits applicants based solely on the results of a single entrance exam.

That process has long produced a largely Asian student body and they comprised 65 percent of those admitted this year.

Whites were second at 20 percent followed by Hispanics 2.7 percent.

Only eight offers — or 1 percent — went to black students, according to DOE figures.

In calling for a general move away from standardized testing, Weingarten argued for the use of multiple measures in determining admissions to public schools with competitive admissions.

The city's specialized high schools admit students based on the scores of one test.
The city’s specialized high schools admit students based on the scores of one test.
Bebeto Matthews/AP

Critics of the specialized high school exam call it a needlessly narrow metric of student talent that benefits those with superior exam preparation resources.

The chronic dearth of black and Hispanic kids in the specialized high schools, they argue, is unacceptable.

Backers — particularly Asian community groups — counter that it’s a colorblind exam that rewards preparation.

They also note that a large proportion of kids at Stuyvesant are low-income immigrants.

Weingarten said the overall emphasis on standardized tests limits curricular options for teachers.

“Our current system of accountability relies heavily, almost exclusively on standardized tests, particularly in math and English Language Arts,” Weingarten said. “It has created incentives against providing a rich, varied education. This system takes an especially heavy toll on the schools and students with the greatest needs.”

The new academic year, she said, will provide a chance to fundamentally change how student progress and achievement is measured.

Randi Weingarten noted that only eight black students were admitted into Stuyvesant High School for the upcoming fall.
Randi Weingarten noted that only eight black students were admitted into Stuyvesant High School for the upcoming fall.
Mark Lennihan/AP

Some critics have argued that minimizing the use of uniform testing makes it difficult to assess student progress or scrutinize the quality of their education.

“We have an opportunity to rethink accountability and assessment,” she said. “Let’s change accountability systems to reorganize schools around teaching and learning. Around what we want children to know and be able to do. And around the science of learning and development — instead of around testing.”

Credit: NYPOST

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