1/23/19: Today, please call your State Senator and your Assemblymember to urge them to vote no. More info and a script are on the NYSAPE website here.
Despite the misinformation about this bill, it continues to link student test scores to teacher evaluation in ways that are invalid and potentially damaging, as the below press release from NYSAPE points out. Though now the tests will be locally selected from a list created by the Commission, this may include the state exams or another assessment, in which case students would face double the amount of testing. And the dreaded HEDI matrix will remain in force. You can read a copy of the bill yourself.
Contrary to the claims of some supporters of the legislation, a close examination of the bills indicates that they continue to link teacher evaluations to student growth as measured by test scores and give the state education commissioner the power to shut down or take over schools based on state test results.
Reports of “decoupling” test scores from teacher evaluations are misleading and do not tell the whole truth. The proposed legislation does nothing to dismantle the current test-and-punish system. Under the proposed legislation, a district is no longer mandated to use the flawed grades 3-8 state assessments for evaluative purposes. However, districts must still use some type of test to evaluate teachers and principals.
How would this legislation work? School districts would still be required to administer all state assessments, but would have a choice between using the grades 3-8 state assessments for teacher evaluation or a different test altogether. If a district chooses not to use the grades 3-8 state assessments, the district must then select a separate assessment (often in addition to state exams) to be used in their evaluation plan. In addition to doubling down on high-stakes testing, the proposed legislation will logically lead to even MORE testing for students.
Despite the American Statistical Association and the National Science Foundation’s conclusion that evaluating teachers based on their students’ test scores produces statistically invalid results and does not improve learning outcomes, these bills ensure that 50% of teacher and principal evaluations will continue to be based on student assessments. This is hardly a victory. (For more on the 50% issue, see this article.)
Bianca Tanis, special education teacher and public school parent said, “I am disappointed by the misinformation campaign surrounding these bills. They perpetuate the same junk science that forces educators to teach to a test. At the end of the day, there is nothing about this legislation that is pedagogically sound.”
“Many professional organizations representing educators and stakeholders have expressed serious misgivings. The legislators must take the time to do further research and make an informed decision,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent, Ossining School Board member, and founding member of NYSAPE.
“We understand that some support of this legislation focuses on local control and the ability of school districts and local unions to choose their own tests for evaluation plans through collective bargaining. However, these bills put the burden of evaluating a teacher squarely on the backs of children through test performance. An evaluation system that pressures children and ignores research is reckless and morally flawed,” said Jeanette Deutermann, leader of Long Island Opt Out.
“The receivership component of the law means schools can be closed because a handful of students perform poorly on state tests. The stakes attached to these exams have never been higher. In no way does it help teachers become better at their jobs or schools to improve. This legislation does not even come close to decoupling high-stakes testing from the ways we evaluate our teachers and schools,” said Kemala Karmen, co-founder of NYC Opt Out.
Education historian Diane Ravitch points out, “The current teacher evaluation law (APPR) was passed to make New York eligible for federal funding from the Race to the Top program in 2010. Under this law, 97% of teachers in the state were rated either effective or highly effective. The law is ineffective. It should be wholly repealed, rather than amended as proposed. Let the state continue setting high standards for teachers and let local districts design their own evaluation plans, without requiring that they be tied to any sort of student test scores.”
Jamaal Bowman, Bronx middle school principal, said, “It is time to bring together parents, scholars, students, doctors, educators, and all who care about our children to create policy that equitably nurtures the brilliance in every child. Why are we still discussing teachers and standardized tests without discussing the toxic stress that greatly harms our children daily, and the lack of opportunity that exists for so many children across the state?”
“The entire idea of basing teacher evaluations on student growth is not only invalid, it is destructive. It alters the relationship between students and teachers--poorly performing students become a threat to job security. Districts will create new metrics that are just as unreliable and invalid as those based on the grades 3-8 test scores and Regents exams,” said Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education and a former New York State High School Principal of the Year.
“The day has come to call on all legislators to legislate and for all educators to educate. We need our legislators to stay out of the way when it comes to creating educational policy, especially when it has to do with evaluating teachers and principals. We need to bring trust back into the educational space. It all starts with trust, and we must trust the fact that using any test score to evaluate an educator is not only wrong, it’s just bad practice,” said Dr. Michael Hynes, Patchogue Medford School District.
The parents and educators in NYS who voted in this new legislative body are relying on them to slow down and take the necessary time to enact research-based legislation that will protect children, educators, and local control.
Please Take Action and write to your legislators in Albany to stop this speeding train!
NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.