APPR/Teacher Evaluation, Testing/Assessments and Learning Standards
September 03, 2015

Groundswell builds to fix broken teacher evaluation system

Author: Matt Smith
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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NYSUT's push in concert with parents to fix the state's broken "test-and-punish" system is becoming a groundswell, with Regent Roger Tilles's call for action providing the latest indication of accelerating support.

Speaking to 400 teachers and school administrators on Long Island Wednesday, Tilles said the state needs to reverse course immediately.

"I oppose the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers and principals," Tilles said in a recent Newsday story. "Not admitting a mistake is making a bigger mistake."

In an interview with columnist Joye Brown, Tilles was even more specific, saying that the Regents should "give the state a recipe for what they can do in January" to fix the broken system. He also called for an end to the use of the state's growth scores based on standardized tests, which can count for up to half of a teacher's annual performance rating.

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said, "In partnership with parents, at dozens of forums held across the state, educators made it clear that the current high-stakes system harms students and erodes the joy of learning. That message clearly resonated with the courageous Regents who in June refused to rubber stamp what many felt was a deeply flawed approach to testing and evaluations."

NYSUT has been relentless in calling for a meaningful evaluation system that promotes teacher development and ends dependence on ratings based on unreliable, poorly written and developmentally inappropriate standardized tests.

Public opinion polls have documented the rapid groundswell of support:

  • In January, a NYSUT Board of Directors Task Force issued a strongly worded report calling for changes to the state's broken system of testing and evaluations based on standardized tests.
  • In February, a NYSUT white paper exposed fundamental flaws in the state's "growth model" for ranking educators.
  • Dozens of parent and teacher forums held across the state offered detailed, heart-wrenching testimony about the impact of high-stakes standardized tests, including their lack of usefulness to improve student learning and problems with transparency and the grade-level appropriateness of test questions.
  • The parent-led "opt out" movement grew to historic proportions, with ultimately 20 percent of students refusing to sit for the state exams.
  • At a "Learning Summit" in May, NYSUT's testimony challenged the broad picture and specific shortcomings of testing and evaluations.
  • Separate independent public polls revealed widespread disagreement with the high-stakes test pressure and evaluations.

"As the new school year begins, we redouble our commitment to reclaiming the joy of learning for our students," Fortino said, "reinforced by this growing groundswell of support."

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