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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

May 17, 2005

Council files memo in opposition to legislation that would undermine education standards

The Business Council is firmly opposing a bill that would undermine high education standards and introduce subjectivity to school assessments, a memo of opposition filed by the Business Council said.

The bill, S.3192/Saland A.6286/Brodsky, would create “portfolio performance-based assessments.” Such portfolios would assess student achievement by a body of work rather than objective standardized tests, the Council's memo said.

“While that may sound fine research has clearly demonstrated that portfolio performance-based assessments are inherently subjective and unreliable,” said Margarita Mayo, the Council’s director director of quality, education and training. “Portfolios do not provide the objective measures that afford true accountability for both school and student performance.”

The state Education Department already has a process in place whereby alternative assessments to the Regents exams can be vetted for their validity and reliability, the Council’s memo said. Students may already choose to take several other nationally and internationally recognized exams rather than a Regents exam in certain subjects.

“The state assessment panel reviews external assessments (which can be presented to the panel by any organization) to make recommendations to the commissioner regarding whether or not they should be accepted as alternatives to Regents exams,” the memo said. “Criteria used to make such a determination relate to whether or not proposed alternatives assess the learning standards, are valid, reliable and rigorous enough.”

The Council’s memo also argued that development of portfolio performance based assessments would be extremely expensive and the legislation provides no funding to create the portfolios.

“This legislation would introduce unreliable subjectivity into the assessment process for some select students by exempting them from some of the Regents requirements,” the memo concluded. “Allowing high school graduation to be largely based on a school's discretion – even if only for a certain group of students/school districts – only serves to absolve schools of the responsibility of the providing every student with a meaningful high school education.”

The full text of the legislative memo is available at www.bcnys.org/inside/Legmemos/2005-06/s3192a6286mm.htm.