- Associated Press - Monday, June 12, 2017

New York public school students will spend less time taking the unpopular Common Core assessments that have been boycotted by large numbers of parents in recent years.

Beginning next spring, students in grades three through eight will spend two days instead of three on each of the annual math and English assessments given statewide. The Board of Regents approved the change Monday in response to public concerns, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said.

“This decision not only reduces the amount of time children will spend taking tests, but also returns valuable instructional time to our teachers,” Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said.

One in five parents opted their children out of the tests in 2016 amid complaints about the rigorous Common Core standards they measure and debate over the tests’ usefulness and role in teacher and school ratings.

The Regents last year reduced the number of test questions and took away stressful time limits to try to ease opposition. The state also is revising the Common Core standards, which map out skills students should know at each grade level.

Teacher and parent groups called Monday’s action a welcome next move.

“Two days of testing is a natural next step, as long as the assessments continue to cover the material needed to truly measure every student’s strengths and challenges, and the changes are implemented carefully and with the input of educators and communities,” High Achievement New York, which advocates for higher standards, said in a statement.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said reducing testing days would help recapture valuable teaching time.

The move also will reduce the time teachers spend grading the tests and may speed the transition for some schools to computer-based testing, state officials said.

Opposition to the tests boiled up after they became more challenging at the same time the state made plans to weigh them heavily in teacher and principal evaluations. Officials have since agreed to a moratorium on using the assessments for evaluations. While the tests do not count against a student’s grades, they are used in some school and program placement decisions.

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