Changes Could Increase Testing

Legislation approved recently in the state Assembly would remove state English and math exams from being included in teacher and principal evaluatios — but it could lead to more days of testing.

The Assembly voted 133-1 to pass A. 10475 to eliminate the mandate that state-created or state-administered tests be used for teacher and principal evaluations, instead allowing school districts and teachers to negotiate a new evaluation system.

“The Assembly Majority is dedicated to ensuring that all of New York’s students receive an education that will prepare them for successful futures. But it has become increasingly clear that standardized tests do not fully account for the diversity of our student populations,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Brooklyn. “Our legislation reflects that the performance of our teachers and students may not be accurately reflected in these test scores, and it makes commonsense reforms to ensure that teachers can give our students the best possible education.”

The legislation would remove the mandate that state created or administered assessments be used to evaluate a teacher’s or principal’s performance. The state education commissioner would be required to create regulations providing alternative assessments for districts that choose not to use state assessments.

The selection and use of assessments would be subject to collective bargaining between schools and teachers unions. The bill would also eliminate the use of the state-provided growth model in a teacher or principal’s evaluation. All teachers would be required to have a student learning objective consistent with a goal-setting process determined or developed by the education commissioner.

The state Senate and state School Boards Association caution that the Assembly’s legislation could result in more testing for students once it is decided what replaces the state tests as part of the APPR plans.

“Clearly, this would run contrary to our efforts to reduce the amount of time that students are subjected to testing,” said Timothy Kremer, state School Boards Association executive director.

“We thank Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan for acknowledging the concerns of the school boards association and superintendents. In addition, we have serious concerns about the requirement in the legislation for school districts to negotiate the selection of alternative assessments through collective bargaining. This represents a step backward, as school districts presently have the authority to determine assessments used in teacher evaluations,” Kremer said.

In 2015, New York state adopted a new annual teacher and principal evaluation system that required the use of state-created or administered assessments as a subcomponent to determine a teacher or principal’s effectiveness. Assembly officals wrote that using the state assessments as part of teacher and principal evaluations has not been widely accepted by teachers and parents, prompting families to opt their children out of the state tests.

John Flanagan, Senate majority leader, said more discussions need to happen before legislation is approved. Currently, the Assembly legislation has been referrred to the Senate’s Education Committee.

“Recently, members of both houses of the Legislature introduced a bill whose goal is to further decouple the testing of students and the performance of teachers,” Flanagan said. “Since it was first introduced, the state Education Department, the New York State School Boards Association and the New York Council of School Superintendents have raised concerns that the legislation as written could inadvertently open the door to even more testing than we have now. Nobody – not students, not parents, not teachers, nor myself or my legislative colleagues – wants that outcome. With this in mind, we are performing an extensive review of this legislation to determine the best path forward.”

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