Current NY State law STILL requires that teacher evaluations be based 50% on student test scores. The “moratorium” has put the use of state ELA and Math tests on hold for 4 years, but many teachers are still evaluated on the 4th grade science test, the NYSESLAT (for ELLs), and NYC Performance Tasks (standardized tests given twice a year to grades K-8 in most of NYC).
Bills being introduced now in the New York State Assembly and Senate would de-couple test scores from teacher evaluations and repeal the inequitable and unjust receivership law, which designates schools as failing solely on the basis of student test scores and turns these schools over to charters or other non-public management. Schools on the receivership list typically have large numbers of students living in poverty and/or with disabilities, so pressure to boost test scores to stave off receivership disproportionately affects those with the fewest resources.
Click HERE to send your state legislator a message urging them to support these bills.
No Field Testing at PS 321
From the School Leadership Team:
After careful discussion and consideration, PS 321’s School Leadership Team (SLT) has voted unanimously that PS 321 will not administer the standalone field tests scheduled for May/June 2016. Here’s why:
● Despite repeated emphasis by the New York State Department of Education that Questar Assessment, Inc has replaced Pearson as test maker, the 2016 field tests,* which are testing content for future exams, are composed exclusively of Pearson created questions.**
● We feel strongly that we must protect remaining instructional time. Field tests exams do not provide parents, teachers or administrators with any information regarding each child’s progress but are used solely for research and development purposes for a for-profit testing company. As the school year comes rapidly to a close, students will benefit far more from an uninterrupted day of teaching and learning than from the administration of another standardized test.
● In a further lack of transparency, field tests are administered to children without notifying parents, despite repeated requests that they be informed. We feel strongly that every school in New York City and New York State should have the chance to make this decision, and therefore have elected to make our decision transparent.
* http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/ei/2016/changes2016grades38elamathtests.pdf The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is making significant changes to the 2016 Grades 38 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests. NYSED has selected Questar Assessment, Inc. as the new vendor to lead the development of the future New York State Grades 38 ELA and Mathematics Tests.
a) Who is the prior contractor that will be the source of the forms and items for Spring 2016 and the Spring 2017 administrations? Answer: The prior contractor is NCS Pearson. Under the terms of its contract with NYSED, NCS Pearson is conducting standalone field tests that will be administered in 3 representative samples of schools in June 2015. NCS Pearson will score the student responses to these items in summer 2015. NCS Pearson is also writing and reviewing items suited for populating the spring 2016 standalone field tests.
b) How many FT items will be delivered to the new contractor and when will this delivery occur? Answer: NCS Pearson is developing items for preparation of field testing in spring 2016 and operational testing in 2017
Landmark Ruling Against VAM
In a landmark ruling against using “value-added measures” (VAM) of student test scores in evaluating teachers, a judge called a NY State teacher’s evaluation “arbitrary and capricious”. The defendant in the case was the former Education Commissioner for NY State, John King, who is now the U.S. Department of Education Secretary. There is currently a moratorium on using students’ standardized test scores in teacher evaluations in NY State. To learn more about the case, the judge’s ruling, and its implications click here and here.
If you believe student growth scores should be permanently removed from teacher evaluations, click HERE to send a letter to your state representative.
Concerns about the quality and appropriateness of the upcoming grades 3-8 state exams continue to be a topic of interest. Click here, here and here for coverage of recent top-level critiques of the NY state tests.
Testing Taskforce Meeting
In other testing news, on March 16, 2016, the Testing Task Force hosted the PTA meeting: Let’s Talk About the Tests. From 8-8:30 Teachers spoke, sharing their thoughts about high-stakes testing and how it impacts their students, teaching and classrooms. Luckily a few parents captured these moving talks on video, which you can see below. The auditorium was packed with parents and teachers. Ryan Zimmermann and Lauren Cohen led a guided discussion of some of the released ELA and Math questions, and a lively discussion followed. The first video includes the introductory remarks made by teachers between 8 and 8:30. In the second video Ryan Zimmermann and Lauren Cohen review some of the released ELA and Math questions from 2015 and 2014. You may view the slides prepared by the Testing Task Force HERE. They cover many of the topics discussed during the Q&A. We have also included video excerpts from the Q&A below.
In other news, Bronx Regent Betty Rosa was elected as the new Chancellor of the Board of Regents. This is a huge change and we are thrilled to have Betty Rosa in this important position. Read more about Betty Rosa and what this means for education HERE.