The following letter to the editor by NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino appeared in the July 28, 2016 edition of Newsday.
Federal overreach on school testing
July 28, 2016 6:15 PM
Just when some were beginning to believe state and federal policy changes were creating an environment that would win back the trust of parents and educators on state testing, U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. is pulling a fast one ["Tough talk on tests," Newsday, July 13].
The same man who often ignored parents, teachers and other education stakeholders when making policy in Albany - deciding he knew better than parents, or anyone else, what students need - is now trying to cement his failed test-and-punish ideology into federal education policy.
At issue is a federal regulation that appears to be aimed directly at the powerful, parent-led opt-out movement in New York and Long Island, its epicenter. If student participation on standardized tests falls below 95 percent, the ratings of excellent Long Island schools could be lowered - and the schools could be falsely labeled as in need of improvement.
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 gave states new flexibility to design their own testing, evaluation and accountability systems. Local control prevailed.
King, however, is using his rule-making authority to push a regulatory requirement for test participation. We hope that reason will prevail, and King’s draft regulation will be quashed.
Catalina Fortino, Albany
Editor’s note: The writer is vice president of New York State United Teachers union and was a member of the state’s Common Core Task Force.