New York State recently passed a Teacher Evaluation Law that links Teacher’s evaluations to their students’ test scores. Parents across New York City are concerned that the new law will be detrimental to their children's education. We believe that:
- The high-stakes of standardized tests within New York are already too high and have resulted in far too many resources and too much class time going to test preparation;
- The tests and test prep lead to an increased level of anxiety among many students;
- The standardized tests children take were not designed to evaluate teachers or whole schools, but rather to assess individual student progress and for instructional purposes;
- When these tests are used as a tool for teacher and whole-school evaluation it leads to inaccurate data and results in a further narrowing of the curriculum.
We want our children to have the opportunity to learn, to think critically, to engage in meaningful relationships with teachers, and to have have positive school experiences. After witnessing the ways in which New York City's Teacher Data Reports used flawed data to make inaccurate judgments of teachers, and to publically humiliate teachers, we are clear that we do not want this repeated on a state level.
March 15, 2012
Dear Governor Cuomo, State Education Commissioner King, Regents Chancellor Tisch, Speaker Silver, and Senator Skelos:
As a public school parent, I am deeply concerned about the role of state standardized testing in New York public education. Over the past several years, the amount of time and resources dedicated to state testing has significantly increased, and the stakes of those tests have been heightened to unprecedented levels, at the expense of our children’s education and well-being. As a result of these increased stakes, there has been:
• More teaching to the test with less attention to a full curriculum;
• More classroom time allotted to test preparation;
• Increased stress and anxiety in our children;
• More money spent on testing, and less on the arts and reducing class size;
• Increased time on tests, including for third-graders this year a full 90 minutes/day for 6 days over 2 straight weeks in April (180 minutes/day for students with an IEP).
This is unacceptable.
The recently passed teacher evaluation system will further increase these stakes. With 20% of the evaluation based on value-added measures of state standardized tests, plus another 20% based on either more assessments or the state tests again, there is entirely too much emphasis on testing. Furthermore, I object to the provision that a teacher will be rated “ineffective” if the state-approved formulas deem there is little growth or sub-par achievement on these tests or assessments – even if the rest of the evaluation is outstanding. This means that it will not matter if a teacher’s principal, peers, students, and class parents, as well as independent evaluators, give this teacher the highest marks possible. The test and assessment scores – which we know can be unreliable and inaccurate, as the deeply flawed NYC Teacher Data Reports demonstrated – will override these other measures. We fear one outcome will be excellent teachers leaving the profession and promising ones avoiding it; and we fear that those who stay will feel even more compelled to teach to the test to the detriment of our children’s education.
I urge you to rethink your support of the new teacher evaluation system, taking into account a groundswell of parent outrage. We want the role of testing and assessment to decrease in our schools, not increase. Test scores should not override the ratings and judgments of principals, other educators, and parents.
(Name and Address)
cc: Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, , John Liu, Christine Quinn, Scott Stringer, Bill Thompson