UFT opposes single measure admissions
The union is on record criticizing and challenging the validity of a single test as the sole criteria for high stakes decisions – such as entrance to early elementary gifted and talented programs or specialized high schools. The proponents of these standardized tests for entrance to competitive screened schools allege the tests are a reliable, objective measure that reinforce the schools’ success and set the standard for academic achievement; ultimately, it’s not broke, so no need to fix it. We respectfully and vehemently disagree. Our prior 2014 testimony citing the Education Policy Research Institute at Arizona State University’s report, “High Stakes, But Low Validity,” and the American Educational Research Association’s 2012 qualitative research, challenged the wisdom of a sole measure for admitting students in specialized high schools, plus revealed the most competitive educational institutions determine academic merit using formulas comprised of multiple academic measures, among which the most highly valued variable is exceptional talent.
The UFT believes admission to the specialized high schools must be changed to a system of multiple measures. This is not news. We urge the City Council to revisit our recommendations contained within our union task force’s 2014 report called “Redefining High Performance for Entrance Into Specialized High Schools — Making the Case for Change.” (4) That same standard, multiple indicators to assess a student’s academic standing, must be applied across the board – so a single test does not determine access to gifted and talented programs, middle schools or the specialized high schools. The UFT opposes creating additional specialized high schools where admission is based on a single test. The UFT supports admission programs based on multiple measures that capture a year of a student’s growth and ability.