Schools Chancellor David Banks said on Thursday schools were spending ‘too much time’ on standardized tests – and should focus more on the ‘real things’.
Banks told students and teachers at an independent New York State Department of Education conference on Thursday that he would make “efforts” in space.
“If you ask me for my personal opinion, I think exams are important, but I don’t think they’re everything,” Banks said, “and I certainly don’t think they should play the outsized role that they play. ”
State exams were canceled in 2020 and about 80% of students in grades three through eight failed to take annual tests last year. Students took the English exam again last month and the math test this week.
“Everyone said across the country after the pandemic, we need to have a different way our kids go to school,” Banks said. “But now that we’re on the other side of the pandemic, most of us are going back to what we were doing before.”
Department of Education officials told The Post that assessment results provide “a snapshot” that teachers can use to check on students and review what is and isn’t working in the classroom to make adjustments.
But others wondered if class time could be put to better use after months of school closures and online classes.
“We spend months testing various assessments,” said a middle school English teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, from District 21 in Brooklyn. “We’re wasting a lot of instruction time.”
“Especially after the pandemic, when there have been so many learning losses, time is precious to teach children everything they’ve been missing,” she said.
Banks presented an approach to the school on Thursday that focused more on practical skills, including knowing who your elected officials are and how to open a bank account and invest in the stock market.
“I want students to debate the issues of the day. Real issues – the gun violence happening here, climate change – real issues,” he said. “We can’t let schools say ‘we can’t do this’ because we have to prepare for a standardized exam.”