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Testing/Assessments and Learning Standards
April 30, 2013

NYSUT embraces pause on high-stakes testing proposed by AFT President Weingarten

Source: NYSUT Media Relations
randi weingarten
Caption: "Throughout New York, students in grades 3-8 just took math and English tests on material they may never have even seen," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. Photo by Miller Photography.

ALBANY, N.Y. April 30, 2013 – New York State United Teachers today endorsed a proposal by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to make the new Common Core standards and assessments work before making them count.

AFT Common CoreNYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said Weingarten's call for a moratorium on attaching high-stakes decisions for students and teachers to the new Common Core assessments is in the best interests of students and the future of public education. 

"The insistence on using unproven tests - on material students haven't learned, from a curriculum that teachers don't have - is undermining the Common Core's potential to enhance teaching and learning,"  Iannuzzi said. "The fierce backlash over standardized testing continues because the state has ignored calls by superintendents, school boards, teachers and parents to slow down, provide more time and support, and do it right."

In a speech to the Association for a Better New York, Weingarten called for a moratorium in which students are tested and teachers are evaluated, but the data is used to respond to student and teacher needs instead of for high-stakes decisions. Weingarten said the Common Core standards being introduced now in New York and 44 other states establish high expectations for all students and raise the bar on teaching and learning. Yet, Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member AFT and native New Yorker, said the Common Core and all its potential good may "end up in the overflowing dust bin of abandoned reforms" because of the rush to test before all the pieces are in place.

"Can you even imagine doctors being expected to perform a new medical procedure without being trained in it or provide the necessary instruments – simply told that there may be some material on a web site? Of course not, but that's what's happening right now with the Common Core," Weingarten told the audience of New York City leaders. "The fact that changes are being made without anything close to adequate preparation is a failure of leadership, a sign of a broken accountability system and, worse, an abdication of our moral responsibility to kids, particularly poor kids."

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira praised the transition period Weingarten proposed.  She said a moratorium would give the State Education Department time to fully develop the Common Core lessons it has promised, providing school districts with the opportunity to offer teachers more professional development and training.  "A moratorium would give teachers the appropriate time, resources and supports they need to properly implement the new standards. It would be a time of intense activity, in which everyone focused on how best to introduce a promising curriculum , while making sure that assessments are aligned to the standards. Our students need us to get it right."

NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees.  NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.