New York’s largest teachers union is making an end of the school year push to stop the state from using this year’s standardized test scores against teachers or students.
A rally planned by New York State United Teachers for Saturday at the Empire State Plaza will call for a moratorium on the use of the tests to rate teachers or in student placements until the new national curricula on which they are based has been fully implemented in New York.
Beginning this year, school districts have to use student growth on the April tests as part of state-required teacher evaluations. Teachers can be fired after two years of low ratings.
NYSUT leaders say this year’s tests should be used only to measure districts’ progress in implementing the more rigorous Common Core learning standards, not to judge teacher effectiveness because not every district had the materials to teach the new curricula before the tests were given.
Education Commissioner John King Jr. said Friday the state has gone to great lengths to make sure teachers aren’t penalized by the increased difficulty of this year’s tests. “And we’ve asked districts to be thoughtful in their use of data from this first year of Common Core assessments when evaluating teacher performance,” he said. “We have every confidence that they will be.”
The ever-higher stakes have helped fuel an anti-testing backlash with stressed students, parents and teachers saying the tests benefit the companies that market them more than those who take them.
More than 225 buses were expected to deliver participants from around the state to Saturday’s One Voice United rally, according to NYSUT.
Rally-goers also planned to demand a more equitable system of school funding, greater investment in higher education, changes in the state’s tax cap law and enactment of the DREAM Act, which would give many young immigrants living in the country illegally a path to legal status.
In addition to NYSUT, participating organizations include the New York State AFL-CIO, state NAACP, Citizens Action, Occupy Albany, the New York Immigration Coalition, Save Our SUNY and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.