By Karen Mathews
New York City schools will de-emphasize the role of standardized test scores in deciding which students must repeat a grade, Chancellor Carmen Farina said Wednesday.
Farinia said teachers and principals will make promotion decisions for students in grades 3 through 8 based on factors including test scores and classroom work.
"This new way forward maintains accountability, but mitigates the unintended consequences of relying solely on a single test," Farina said in a statement.
The change is in line with New York state policy but must be approved by the city's Panel for Educational Policy at its May 29 meeting.
As in past years, students who are judged to be failing will be sent to summer school and those who don't do well in summer school will be held back. Parents can appeal the decisions.
Last year about 10 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 were directed to attend summer school and 2.5 percent were held back. City Department of Education spokeswoman Devora Kaye said the percentages are expected to be similar this year.
During the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, students were sent to summer school if they got the lowest score of 1 on the statewide English or math tests. That policy was suspended last year when 47 percent of city students got a 1 on either the math or English portion of new, Common Core-aligned tests.
Farina said that going forward, teachers and principals will determine which students are at risk of being held back based on "multiple measures" including classroom work and test scores.
The teachers' and principals' unions praised the policy change.
"It is time that New York City takes into account all the work a child does the rest of the year, in the classroom, where the real learning takes place," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said.
Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, said the new policy means "school principals will finally be genuinely empowered to make their own decisions about student achievement."
But Jenny Sedlis, executive director of StudentsFirstNY, a group that advocates for weakening the power of school unions, said, "When the test scores of nearly half our city's kids warranted possible grade retention, our focus should be on ensuring high quality instruction on the front end, not on changing the bar for promotion."