August 12, 2015

State test scores tell parents and policymakers almost nothing

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations
test scores

ALBANY, N.Y. Aug. 12, 2015 — Test scores in English language arts and math released today tell parents, educators and policymakers almost nothing about students’ progress toward meeting state standards, and are meaningless as measures of teacher effectiveness, New York State United Teachers said.

“It would be a huge mistake to read anything into these test results. Whether they’re up or down, they tell us virtually nothing meaningful about students or their teachers,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “Student test scores based on poorly written, developmentally inappropriate Pearson tests, in a year in which record numbers of parents repudiated the state’s standardized testing program by ‘opting out,’ aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.”

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said NYSUT would be vigilant in ensuring that the eventual move to Questar Inc., with the full involvement of teachers in the test-development process, will result in better, more accurate and reliable student assessments in ELA and math.

Fortino noted that NYSUT is gearing up to work with Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, the Regents and Legislature toward a new teacher-principal evaluation system which is fair and meaningful, and designed to foster professional growth so educators can better serve their students. She also pointed out the state Education Department is embarking on a review — with teachers and other educators — of the Common Core standards.

“We need to recapture the joy of teaching and learning — for students and teachers,” Fortino said. “That’s going to take recognition that the misuse of student test scores in teacher evaluations was a mistake. We know now from research that student test scores are not a valid way to measure how a teacher is doing in the classroom, just as the state’s growth model has proven to be inaccurate, unstable and unreliable,” Fortino said. “We are committed to a fair evaluation system, which uses multiple measures and which helps New York’s already strong teaching force grow even stronger. NYSUT is looking forward to working collaboratively toward that goal.”

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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