Friday, March 1, 2019
Last month, both houses of the New York State legislature passed a bill that would restore some collective bargaining rights to unions regarding teacher evaluations and would end the mandate that state tests be used in those evaluations.
The bill, at present, awaits the signature of the Governor before becoming law.
While the bill is a big step forward, it does not eliminate testing from evaluations or do anything to address problems that have been widespread regarding the state exams that are administered to public school students in New York.
In a NYSUT membership briefing published on February 8, NYSUT President, Andy Pallotta, is quoted as saying the following regarding the current status of state testing in New York:
"Our work is not finished. We still need to ensure that the tests are developmentally appropriate and valid. The state's use of testing has become an obsession that must be stopped."
One of the concerns put forth by those against high stakes testing is that test results can be manipulated and used as an excuse to punish schools and the students in them.
A prime example of this just took place in the state of Arkansas. In that state, lawmaker, Alan Clark, has introduced a bill that would reduce student lunch funding as a punishment for schools that fail to improve their reading proficiency rates on state tests.
Read that full story by clicking here.
The story out of Arkansas is just one of many examples of lawmakers attempting to use high stakes testing to serve their political ends. In some cases, those political ends involve gaining leverage over teachers in contract negotiations. In other cases, the ends involve using test scores as an excuse to turn schools into private charter schools that have no accountability to taxpayers.
Little to no evidence has been produced to date that shows any correlation between state test scores and the quality of education a student is receiving. In addition, there has been no accepted published that shows that results on high stakes tests are a valid means of determining the quality of teaching going on in the classroom.
NYSUT President, Andy Pallotta, is correct in his view that the state's testing obsession must be stopped. Until high stakes testing is eliminated from use in evaluating teachers and schools, there will continue to be the risk that scores will be used to do harm. The bill passed in the state legislature recently should only serve as a step forward towards the ultimate goal of getting high stakes testing out of the public schools for good.