New Tests Threaten New York State Teacher Evaluation

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The first round of new tests for the Common Core resulted in very low scores for many students around the country. In NY State, the passing rates, the rates at which students met or exceeded standards, dipped as low as single digit percentages. Since teacher evaluations are partially determined by their student’s test scores, The NY State Union of Teachers (NYSUT) has protested.

“NYSUT’s goal is to do an overhaul of the entire APPR,” Karen Magee told Chalkbeat, referring to the state’s evaluation law. “This is the first step towards doing so.” Magee wouldn’t comment on the negotiations, which are centered on the role that tougher, Common Core-aligned state tests will play in teacher evaluations this year and next year. But she said the union was still in talks with the governor’s office about removing the scores and that she remained “guardedly optimistic” that a deal would get done. Since students first took the new tests last year, which sent proficiency rates plummeting, teachers have protested that the assessments aren’t accurate measurements of student growth, especially while teachers are still becoming familiar with the standards. They have also raised other concerns with how the evaluations measure student learning, since thousands of teachers’ evaluations will be based partially on test results for students and subjects they didn’t teach. (http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2014/06/18/nysut-head-getting-rid-of-test-scores-only-a-first-step-toward-evaluation-overhaul/#.U6MEnY1dWdV).

There are also problems with the evaluations based on Principal observations, but the largest problems are that abandoning these types of evaluations will sacrifice federal funding. New York State legislature and the state’s teacher union (NYSUT) are in negotiations right now to temper the teacher evaluations, if not change them. At risk is the 292 million federal funding, but if teacher evaluations are unfair, than the entire teaching force and the students they are responsible for, are also at risk.