ALBANY, N.Y. June 18, 2013 — U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s decision to allow states to request additional time before applying high-stakes consequences to standardized tests tied to the new Common Core Learning Standards demonstrates “an understanding of the realities of the classroom and a commitment to ‘getting it right,”’ New York State United Teachers said today.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said Duncan’s announcement gives states an opportunity to seek additional time before using standardized tests for high-stakes decisions. He said NYSUT would work with state education leaders to pursue that option, with an eye towards providing stakeholders — including teachers and their local unions, superintendents and administrators — with more time to focus on the re-calibrations that are needed to properly align standards, curriculum, professional development and instruction to the new assessments.
“This additional flexibility would give teachers the time they need to make the instructional shifts that are required for the Common Core to succeed,” Iannuzzi said. “Secretary Duncan’s announcement is consistent with NYSUT’s call for this year to be a ‘hold-harmless’ year, in which school districts and teachers can look at what worked, and what needs tweaking, in order to ensure that evaluations are meaningful and fair. It shows a willingness by Secretary Duncan to listen to the voices of educators, as professionals in the classroom, who welcome high standards and accountability but who also insist that accountability be balanced with fairness.”
Iannuzzi noted momentum had been building toward today’s announcement since American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten first called for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences tied to the Common Core tests. In an April 30 speech, Weingarten said if states “put the brakes on the stakes,” more effort could go into “guaranteeing that deeper, more rigorous standards will help lead to higher achievement for all children.”
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira noted that support for the need to make adjustments in order to “get it right” has been growing.
More than 15,000 teachers, parents and students jammed Albany’s Empire State Plaza on June 8 to demonstrate concern about the over-emphasis on standardized testing and speed of New York’s implementation of the Common Core. And, just yesterday, the Board of Regents voted to delay the use of a Value-Added Model until at least 2014-15, acknowledging NYSUT’s concerns. The union launched its “Tell It Like It Is” campaign in November to amplify teachers’ voices about how the overuse of standardized tests is hurting students.
“Educators, through their union, have been voicing their concerns loud and clear: We all want the state to get it right,” Neira said. “The Regents listened to educators and took an important step in the right direction. Now, Secretary Duncan has signaled that the federal government will allow states more time to implement the Common Core more fully and fairly before attaching high-stakes consequences to standardized tests. NYSUT will be urging the state Education Department and Regents to take a leadership role among the states in seeking additional time to make the adjustments necessary 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.