June 11, 2014

NYSUT presses Senate, governor to support 'pause' on test penalties

Source: NYSUT Media Relations
moratorium ad
Caption: NYSUT's web ad campaign showcases students speaking from the heart about the difference a teacher makes in their lives.

ALBANY, N.Y. June 11, 2014 - "A teacher is more than a test score… Tell lawmakers to evaluate that."

This message summarizes a new multi-media campaign launched today by New York State United Teachers to emphasize the need for a moratorium for teachers on high-stakes consequences from state standardized tests stemming from the problem-plagued implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards.

A video shows students speaking from the heart about the difference a teacher makes in their lives, particularly in ways that can't be quantified through a paper-and-pencil test: .

In the wake of the state's flawed roll-out of new standardized tests based on Common Core standards, legislators and the governor agreed as part of the state budget that students would not be penalized by the unproven tests.

The Assembly recently passed a bill that would extend that common-sense remedy to educators.

"Now the Senate and the governor must follow through so that New York state can hit the 'pause button' to forestall misuse of these test scores against teachers," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. "Parents and teachers agree that it's basic common sense to be sure new curriculum and tests work before making them count."

Magee noted that the tests are still a big unknown, with a state gag order in place that prevents educators from analyzing, discussing or reviewing test questions, and with uneven implementation of new Common Core curriculum.

"If the tests shouldn't be used to penalize kids - and they shouldn't be - it's only fair to extend that to teachers," Magee said.

NYSUT has consistently made the point that, even with a moratorium, teachers will continue to be evaluated; what's at issue is the imposition of penalties based on the problematic standardized tests.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said, "There is widespread support among parents, educators and legislators for taking a breather to get this right - and time is of the essence. We are asking lawmakers to follow through on their commitment to a common-sense remedy to the high-pressure, high-stakes environment that harms students and educators."

The union also has gone to court to challenge the state for failing to fairly account for the impact of student poverty in assigning teachers' effectiveness ratings. Last week, NYSUT issued a statement supporting districts that were opting not to administer state field tests of prospective exam questions, saying this subjects children to yet another round of testing solely for the purpose of researching questions for Pearson. The union noted it would support SED in seeking funding to prevent these onerous rounds of field tests.

The initial buy for the web-based portion of the new campaign is approximately $200,000.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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