NYSUT on state tests: 'It's time to hold the Commissioner and the Regents accountable'
STATEMENT BY NEW YORK STATE UNITED TEACHERS AS STATE STANDARDIZED TESTING RESUMES
"Teachers want nothing more than to nurture in their students a lifelong love of learning. They are dedicated to fostering in young people the deeper learning and skills needed to be successful. New York's teachers believe the state's obsession with standardized testing and endless data collection - driven by multi-million dollar contracts with Pearson - are counterproductive by stifling creativity; intruding on instructional time; and turning off students, many of whom were unable to finish their tests last week and left their classrooms utterly defeated and in tears.
"To be clear, NYSUT believes the state's new Common Core learning standards have the potential to enhance student learning and help students hone their critical thinking skills - if implemented correctly. The key word is 'potential' and the key phrase is 'if implemented correctly.'
"For two years, NYSUT has been telling the State Education Department that it has been moving too fast, and without the time and supports for schools and students. Teachers have been speaking out by the thousands and with unprecedented conviction and passion. Sadly, the State Education Department and Regents have been deaf to teachers' voices and to a booming chorus of parents who know what's best for their children and who, too, are loudly declaring that these high-stakes tests are too much, too soon and are coming without enough time for teachers - and school districts - to do it right. The Chancellor may believe, as the New York Times reported, 'We can't wait. We have to just jump into the deep end.' But NYSUT, on behalf of the state's teachers, says that if students are going to jump into the deep end, it should be after they've had plenty of swim lessons and perhaps with a life jacket if they need it. Teachers are passionate about saving every single child.
"Clearly, the state Education Department has lost its way. It is doing something that no teacher would ever do - testing before instruction. Last week's English Language Arts tests and the Math assessments that begin tomorrow are largely based on material that has not been taught because the state promised, but has not provided, all the necessary Common Core lessons. In fact, the State Education Department has not developed a single lesson module for teachers to use before this week's math tests for students in grades 6, 7 or 8. Yet, students and teachers will be held accountable.
"Accountability runs both ways. It's time to hold the Commissioner and the Regents accountable."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.