September 18, 2013

NYSUT calls for 3-year moratorium on 'high-stakes consequences' of test scores

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source:  NYSUT Communications
NYSUT board member Nadia Resnikoff and NYSUT Director of Legislation Steve Allinger
Caption: Nadia Resnikoff, a sixth-grade teacher, president of the Middle Country Teachers Association and a member of NYSUT’s Board, with NYSUT Director of Legislation Steve Allinger at Suffolk Community College. Photo by Jonathan Fickies.

“We’re not opposed to common core, if it’s done in the right way,” said Nadia Resnikoff, a sixth-grade teacher, president of the Middle Country Teachers Association and a member of NYSUT’s Board. “What can’t happen is that you can’t have the assessment there without the curriculum, which is what we have now.”

Resnikoff presented the statewide union’s written testimony  before a packed house at Suffolk Community College, where state Sen. John Flanagan, R-Long Island, convened a Senate Education Committee hearing.  She demanded that the state “make changes now, for the sake of students, to ‘get it right!’”

The committee invited dozens of stakeholders to assess the progress of the Regents reform agenda. Many came to the same conclusion: We all support deeper, richer learning, but we’ve put the cart before the horse, particularly with Common Core standards. Last year’s decision by SED to test students on the new standards before the curriculum had been taught simply set up good students for failure.

Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Long Island, a former teacher and member of the United Federation of Teachers, used a baseball analogy to show the unfairness of making significant changes to rules – or standards -- without the proper time and preparation.

“Let’s say I’m a .300 hitter, ” said Marcellino. “Now, Major League Baseball moves first base back five feet. I’m no longer a .300 hitter.”

Echoing the need to slow down the process, William Floyd School Board President Robert Vecchio added: “The state was more interested in doing it first rather than doing it right.”

In his testimony, Regent Roger Tilles said, “When it comes to the harm the rushed implementation of the tests do to children, never underestimate the power of low self-esteem. I’ve seen it up close and it can be devastating.”

The NYSUT testimony:

  • Called on the state Legislature to provide in full the resources districts need to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to master the new Common Core learning standards and to address funding shortfalls dating back to 2009.
  • Asked the seven state senators on the panel to support teachers and parents seeking “best practice” in measuring student achievement, and for necessary transparency in the state’s use of standardized tests.
  • Sought support for sufficient time to implement the new standards and instruction before testing on the standards.  NYSUT is calling for a three-year moratorium on high stakes consequences for students and teachers as a result of this rushed and rocky implementation — including postponing the implementation of the Common Core Regents exams as a graduation requirement.