ALBANY, N.Y. July 9, 2015 — New York State United Teachers today said the State Education Department’s new, five-year contract with Questar Inc. and a promise to involve New York teachers in every step of the test-development process is a victory for students, parents and teachers.
Less than a year after hundreds of parents and NYSUT members rallied on the steps of SED and shredded copies of the state’s testing contract with Pearson, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the grassroots effort paid off.
“Pearson offered a bad product and today Pearson got fired,” Magee said.
“Teachers have called for this for years,” she added. “It is a first step along the road toward ending New York’s failed testing policies. The Questar contract, in its promise to emulate New York’s successful test-development process for Regents exams, begins to restore the trust and confidence in teachers to do the job right. It says New York is going to trust its own teachers, not a corporation, to develop state tests.”
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said the new contract is a positive sign from Commissioner MaryEllen Elia at the beginning of her tenure.
“It, perhaps, signals that the State Education Department is beginning to listen to parents and teachers at the grassroots level who are concerned about over-testing; the length and difficulty of state tests; and the age- and developmental-appropriateness of standardized tests,” Fortino said. “Our advocacy will continue until all the changes we seek are in place. In concert with parents, we will continue to press for appropriate tests that measure what students know and are then used to improve teaching and learning. State tests designed to measure students’ learning cannot and should not be used for high-stakes decisions for students and teachers.”
Fortino said NYSUT is urging SED to move slowly and cautiously — mindful of the “digital gap” in many places around the state — toward the increased use of computers in testing. Fortino noted, “Many school districts still do not have the appropriate technology platforms in place to implement computer testing.”
In addition, Fortino said if SED moves closer to computer-based testing, “It should not simply move ‘fill-in-the-bubble’ tests from pencil and paper to the keyboard and Internet. New York should be listening to and working with all the stakeholder groups on performance-based testing that can more accurately measure what students know and are able to do.”
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.