After pushback from teachers, the New York State Education Department has changed a new provision that temporarily prohibits teachers from discussing Regents exam questions online.
The original rule stated that teachers could not use email or a listserv to discuss test questions or other specific content with other teachers until a week after the exam period ended on June 23. As Chalkbeat reported Tuesday, teachers objected, arguing that they sometimes needed to discuss questions in order to properly grade the tests or to challenge questions that seems unfair.
Under the change, tests taken between June 13 and June 16 can be discussed online beginning June 23. And for those taken between June 19 and June 22, teachers can discuss content online beginning June 27.
According to education department officials, the provision was intended to ensure that testing material did not spread online before all students had completed their exams, particularly among schools that serve students with special needs, who qualify for multiple-day testing.
“We believe that nearly all students who are testing with this accommodation will have completed their exams by these dates,” Steven Katz, director of the Office of State Assessment, wrote in a memo to school principals and leaders.
Still, longtime physics teacher Gene Gordon and former president of the Science Teachers Association of New York State noted that, to some extent, the damage was done since the amendment to the rule came out only after many teachers had already graded their exams.
“It did not have any real effect,” Gordon said.
The New York State United Teachers — which criticized the new provision on Tuesday as a “gag order” and called for its repeal — called the amendment a “clear victory” for educators. Still, NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn told Chalkbeat, “it clearly will be more helpful in the future than this year.”