Why we oppose the release of test-based teacher evaluations

June 26, 2012 — Leave a comment
Please help copy and distribute a hard copy of the this statement (with our summer series schedule on the back) to your coworkers
As students and teachers finish up the school year in sweltering heat, legislators in Albany closed their legislative session by passing a new law regarding the public release of teachers’ performance evaluations. In reaction to the horrific episode in February, where teachers had erroneous ratings based on flawed data splashed across the pages of the New York City press, legislators extended a protection given to some other civil servants that would prevent work evaluations from being released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Widely heralded as a victory for teachers both by the teacher union leadership and the antiunion press, this legislative move actually helps to usher in a new destructive era of standardized testing for our public school students. First of all, the legislation mandates that school districts must provide “conspicuous notice” to advise parents of their right to know their children’s teachers’ evaluation results.  While the UFT claims that parents have always had this right, it was a very rare administrator that ever released teacher’ performance information to parents.  Now, Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to call every parent in New York City to make them aware that they can access this information.
This will create a poisonous environment within schools, creating suspicion and dividing parents and teachers who are natural allies in the struggle for better schools for our students.

No More Standardized Testing!

Furthermore, the publicity surrounding the deal ignores the overall framework in which it is occurring, where teacher evaluations will soon be based in part on scores students receive on standardized tests. In a year where students have endured hours of expanded “field testing,” error-filled exams, and nonsense questions about talking pineapples, we are now moving to an era where teachers livelihoods will be determined by growth and value-added models based on tests, which are unstable metrics that have been shown to vary wildly.

Fortunately, there is a new voice in opposition to the politics of collusion on the part of union leaders that has brought us to this point. The recently formed Movement of Rank and File Educators (morecaucusnyc.org) in New York City is the social justice caucus of the UFT and force advocating within the union opposing “any teacher evaluations based on standardized tests.” MORE has supported the boycott of parents of the Pearson field tests and taken a strong position against the evaluation framework agreed to by our union leadership in February, and endorsed the national resolution against standardized testingwhich has been ratified by hundreds of organizations around the country (although not the UFT leadership).

In the fall, MORE will be launching a petition campaign calling for the right for teachers to vote on the evaluation deal, and organizing escalating protests against the testing profiteers.
If you like what you’ve read,  please consider joining MORE.
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