TO: Regent.Bottar@nysed.gov, Regent.Bendit@nysed.gov, Regent.Brown@nysed.gov, Regent.Cea@nysed.gov, Regent.Cottrell@nysed.gov, Regent.Finn@nysed.gov, Regent.Norwood@nysed.gov, Regent.Tallon@nysed.gov, Regent.Tilles@nysed.gov, Regent.Tisch@nysed.gov, Regent.Cashin@nysed.gov, Regent.Chin@nysed.gov, Regent.Collins@nysed.gov, Regent.Johnson@nysed.gov, Regent.Ouderkirk@nysed.gov, Regent.Rosa@nysed.gov
SUBJECT: Please Vote No
BODY OF EMAIL:
I understand that the Board of Regents will vote at their Sept. 16-17 meeting on whether or not to make the new teacher-principal evaluation rules permanent.
Six members of your Board, all experienced educators, have already issued a vigorous dissent and voted against the flawed practice of using VAMs to evaluate teachers. Other members have also publicly stated their opposition in principle to these test-based evaluations.
I urge you to please vote NO.
I am relying on you to defend the rights of children and the dignity of the teaching profession.
The current rules increase the emphasis on standardized testing despite the lack of evidence supporting this practice. VAMs do not produce stable or reliable ratings of teachers, and depend on insignificant fluctuations in test scores based on extremely small sample sizes. Some of the most exemplary teachers in the state, at some of the highest performing schools, have been given unfavorable ratings, prompting lawsuits which are likely to increase in frequency.
Education experts in New York State, and across the country, have been speaking out about this practice directly to the Board of Regents since 2010, and the American Statistical Association, the Board on Testing Assessment and the Education Testing Service have all warned against the use of these measures for high stakes decisions.
The over reliance on these tests is damaging our most vulnerable children. They are being deprived of art and music, science, and recess. Our elementary school children are losing the play based hands on learning that is most developmentally appropriate for them, and the pressure to teach to the test, at the expense of children’s best interests, is especially pervasive in high poverty schools and schools with high ELL populations. All of the children of New York deserve better.
Additionally, these measurements are only as good as the tests on which they are based, and for several years now, educators have been protesting not testing itself, but these deeply flawed, developmentally inappropriate, high-stakes tests.
It is a serious concern that given both the fluctuations in ratings as well as the flawed nature of the tests on which they are based that high stakes decisions about the professional lives of teachers would be made on the basis of such scores. The teaching profession will not attract quality applicants if they will be evaluated on the basis of standardized testing rather than a more dynamic, responsive system.
I urge you to vote no and fight for a new evaluation system that relies on research-based, evidence-based school reforms, instead of punishments based on invalid standardized tests.