ALBANY, N.Y. February 1, 2012 — To emphasize that rigorous teacher evaluations should focus on classroom learning and individual student needs and not over-rely on standardized tests that put children under enormous stress — New York State United Teachers will kick off a statewide information and advertising campaign Thursday asking New Yorkers to join teachers in working for locally developed evaluation systems that advance excellent teaching.
The ads, placed in major newspapers across the state — "Teachers know: A child is more than a test score" [PDF] — seek to set the record straight. The ads stress that teachers embrace high standards, local flexibility and strict accountability, including the appropriate use of student test data in teacher evaluations.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said, "Our students are more than test scores, and more goes into great teaching than just a single score on a single test on a single day. The fairest, best approach to evaluating teachers includes a variety of measures that focus on the subject knowledge, creativity and expertise that bring learning to life in our classrooms."
"Too much emphasis on standardized tests will naturally lead to a narrowing of the curriculum to focus only on what's being tested, and even more 'teaching to the test,'" Iannuzzi said. "Teachers don't want that; students don't need that, and parents certainly have serious concerns about how that would impact their children."
Iannuzzi noted that, contrary to some assertions, significant progress is being made implementing the state's teacher-principal evaluation system. Full implementation has been delayed by the state's appeal of a lawsuit, in which a judge found that the Board of Regents crafted flawed regulations that, among other faults, sought to double the importance of standardized tests. Meaningful discussions are underway to address outstanding issues.
Already, Iannuzzi said, school districts and teachers in places as large as Long Island, Albany and Rochester, and as small as Chittenango, Hoosick Falls, Watkins Glen, Norwood-Norfolk and Randolph have used a collaborative approach to agree on comprehensive, rigorous and fair evaluation systems in accordance with current state law.
"The public should know that progress is being made, and more importantly, we need to get it right," Iannuzzi said. "All across the state, teachers and school districts are working to develop rigorous and fair evaluation systems that are good for students, fair to teachers and that work for their own communities. What they don't need is another 'one size fits all' unfunded mandate imposed by Albany bureaucrats."
The ads will appear in the Albany Times Union; Buffalo News; Newsday; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; and Syracuse Post-Standard, as well as thePoughkeepsie Journal, Utica Observer-Dispatch, Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin andPlattsburgh Press-Republican. Ads are also appearing on newspaper websites.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.