Today concluded the first day of standardized testing in New York State for the 2014-2015 academic year and one expert on millenials joined WIBX First News with Keeler to defend the need for standardized testing, if perhaps not the current form of that testing.

John Zogby, founder of polling giant Zogby International (now Zogby Analytics), regular contributor to Forbes Magazine, and co-author, with Joan Snyder, of The First Globals: Understanding, Managing, and Unleashing Our Millennial Generation, says that there is a need to measure the progress of students through the years and their respective ability levels.  He agrees that many students do not have a sufficient education upon graduation.

Asked if the majority of students are prepared for their post-academic life Zogby says, "Some clearly aren't.  That's why you've had an explosion over the last thirty or forty years in remedial programs...on college campuses....Obviously, given my field, I believe in metrics, and some form of standardized tests.  The problem....are the metrics that we're trying to measure, which aren't terribly important and don't necessarily reveal what a person's true skills and true potential really are.  I think basically a lot of the testing that's done is irrelevant and very possibly dangerous."

Teaching to tests is nothing more than a diversion, according to Zogby.  What is important, he says, "...the capacity to work in teams to solve problems, to see situations and put them in context, to make rapid and good decisions, those are the sorts of things that we need to be measuring, not the four causes of Civil War in third grade."

When asked whether he thinks what is going on in New York is akin to what happened with the contentious relationship between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the teachers union there, Zogby says there are similarities.

Associated Press Post March 10, 2015 "Bill Targeting Unions Multiply"
Associated Press Post March 10, 2015 "Bill Targeting Unions Multiply"

When Bill Keeler specifically asked Zogby whether he believes that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to "destroy" teachers unions in New York, Zogby says, "That is tough... I guess the short answer to that would be, 'yes, probably,' simply because, on a personal level, this is a very unique politician who doesn't seek love.  This is the guy who stands his ground and digs in.  Secondly, a recognition that there probably can't be much progress in public education until some of the arcane rules and regulations, and the political power of the unions are, at least in some way, stymied.  To his benefit, this is kind of like a Nixon going to China.  You know, perhaps a lot easier for a Democrat who himself and his father have always been close to unions to be the person to make this charge than Scott Walker, who's clearly doing it mainly for ideological (reasons)."

The expanded conversation on standardized testing in New York is taking place largely because Cuomo has passed legislation requiring that students' test results be directly tied to the evaluation of teachers in the state.  The New York State Department of Education is still, however, coming to terms with exactly how that will be done, and for what percentage of a teacher's Annual Professional Performance Reivew, or APPR, will be determined by the results.

In response to Governor Cuomo's plans one teachers' union, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), is encouraging its members to support students opting out of the state tests.  On a Question and Answer posting on their website for the month of April 2015 NYSUT explains, "NYSUT has tried for years to work with Gov. Cuomo to develop evaluations that do not place and overreliance on commercially developed standardized tests. He has refused and instead has insisted, contrary to all advice and evidence to the contrary, on making "test and punish" the centerpiece of his education policy."

And, although official numbers indicating how many students have opted out of the tests are not available as of this posting, the New York State Department of Education has made it clear that testing will proceed for all of those students who wish to continue testing.


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