ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 26, 2015 — New York State United Teachers said statewide, district-by-district teacher evaluations that were released today and rely in part on inaccurate, unreliable and unstable state test scores, underscore that New York’s more than 200,000 classroom teachers are doing an excellent job educating students.
“It’s no surprise to parents — or anyone who spends any time in our public schools — that New York’s teachers must meet the highest standards to enter and remain in the classroom,” NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said. “While standardized test scores are one of the most inaccurate, unreliable ways to measure either student performance or teacher effectiveness, these results underscore what we’ve always known: Teachers do a great job in the classroom, especially in those communities where students — and their schools — face societal challenges.”
Magee noted the data released today reflects troubling instability. One-quarter of the state’s teachers moved up or down one of the four categories — highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective — and about 8 percent moved at least two categories. “Within the 20 percent of teachers’ evaluations based on state test scores, we are seeing wide swings that call into question whether students’ test scores can ever be used reliably or accurately to measure teaching,” Magee said. “To even suggest that 50 percent of teachers’ annual evaluations be based on student test scores shows how little the governor knows about the teaching and learning process.”
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said suggestions by Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Acting Commissioner Beth Berlin that the evaluation system needs to be “strengthened” or lacks “differentiation” are more designed to score political points than reflect reality.
“From the start, the governor has insisted on a ‘test-and-punish’ system for evaluating teachers,” Fortino said, “It’s worth reminding the State Education Department that the state set the rules. SED set the deadlines. SED demanded that unproven, hastily implemented standardized tests be the cornerstone for evaluating teachers and students. And, of course, SED required that each and every evaluation plan be reviewed, modified, if necessary, and approved — by SED. Now that those evaluations confirm that New York state has an effective teaching corps — a conclusion supported by parents and many independent measures — now SED claims the process needs to be strengthened.”
“It’s time to stop scapegoating teachers and start supporting them,” she added.
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.