Archive for the 'testing' Category

Where we agree, where we disagree

From New Action’s May 2016 Leaflet

Where We Agree

We agree that 200 lawyers at Tweed is about 200 too many. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that the current funding formula for schools makes no sense, that principals are forced to discriminate against experienced teachers, that schools, kids, teachers all get hurt. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that abusive and incompetent administrators are a problem. But we need leadership that restores and expands the Principals In Need of Improvement Program, resurrects the highly successful Organizing Committee, and targets principals who go after our members, leadership that brings the abusers to Fariña, sits down, and gets them out.

We agree that arbitrary extensions of probation are unfair. But we need a leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that parents have a right to opt their children out of tests. But we need leadership that actively informs parents of this right.

Where We Disagree

We disagree with a leadership that insists that student test scores be part of our evaluation.

We disagree with a leadership that is in love with the Common Core. We disagree with one-size-fits all in math, and we can’t believe that teachers are being stopped from teaching whole books and are limited to chapters or excerpts.

We disagree with creating separate, unequal “rights” for members in excess.

And we disagree with jobs and promotions being given out based on obedience to a caucus instead of merit.

Vote MORE/New Action

Combat Abusive Administrators – Return to Fair Funding! – Get rid of the Lawyers! – Protect Probationers

Protect ATRs – Fight for Union Democracy – End “Drive By” and “Test Score” Teacher Evaluation

Support Jia Lee, Opt Out Leader, for UFT President

Get Test Scores Out of Teacher Evaluation

New Action urges: no test scores in teacher evaluation. Unity responds by not letting members vote.

At the January 11, 2016 UFT Executive Board meeting, New Action urged opposition to the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, and urged that we use the four year moratorium to lobby for a change in New York State Education Law to remove student test scores from teacher evaluation in New York State.

A Unity leader moved to table, and it was in fact tabled, on a caucus-line vote.

The difference is that we asked to take a stand against using tests to rate teachers, but Michael Mulgrew and Unity only want to delay using the tests, claiming against all evidence that it will be possible, four years down the road, to fairly rate teachers based on test scores. They want a pause (they have it), but they still favor rating teachers based on tests.

New Action continues to oppose rating teachers based on tests.

In Support of Opt Out

In New York State our children are being inundated with Common Core exams that determine their teachers’ ratings (even gym, art and music teachers!) and narrow the entire school year to a rigid “teach to the test” agenda.  We stand in solidarity with parents who want to opt their children out of this needless overtesting. We call for an end to the discredited practice of tying teacher ratings to high-stakes tests that serve no purpose for students.  The “test and punish” agenda of the Cuomo administration is very good for testing companies like Pearson and extremely bad for all the real stakeholders in education: teachers, parents and students.

We applaud the statement by NYSUT President Karen Magee supporting Opt Out. New Action/UFT supports the opt out movement, and we recognize the hard work of the NYC parents and educators who are spreading the word.  In just one case, the Brooklyn New School, 84% of parents chose to opt their children out.  It is time for our union leadership to get on board.

Cuomo’s War on Educators

Andrew Cuomo got much of what he wanted in his attack on NY state’s teachers.   Tenure now will take four years. Fifty percent of our ratings will be based on standardized tests that our students take. It will be quicker to fire teachers. This set of changes is designed to “churn” teachers, to make teaching a short-term career – in some places. Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Cuomo’s partner, made clear which places do and which places don’t deserve experienced educators – April 1 she proposed exempting top (affluent) districts from the new evaluation system, and the next day she proposed exempting high-performing NYC schools.

It’s not just teachers who Cuomo targeted – the new system will lead to many more tests for our students.

It is impossible to ignore the role of our union’s leadership in this. The NY Daily News reported: “city lawmakers said they were told by Mulgrew’s team that voting for the package would not be held against them.” On March 29 Mulgrew e-mailed the membership, claiming victory. Once members learned the details, he backpedaled. On April 1 he sent out a correction.

New Action applauds the acts of protest and solidarity against Governor Cuomo’s “educational reform.” 150 schools linked arms around their schools. We must build so next time 1700 participate. But it is hard to get behind a campaign that says 50% tests is too much, but 40% is ok. The vast majority of teachers know that evaluating us based on test scores makes no sense. It is time for Unity leadership to discard its discredited, pro-testing stance.

Note:  
September 2014 New Action moved to
endorse Zephyr Teachout in her race against Andrew Cuomo.
Unity blocked this endorsement.

 

Support the I Refuse Resolution

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the February 2015 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: February 2015 Leaflet (Front) and (back)

 

New Action supports putting the I Refuse Resolution on this afternoon’s agenda. To be clear, the “I Refuse” speaks to supporting parents who opt their children out of State testing. It does not speak to teachers refusing to do any part of their jobs. Additionally, New Action supports widely distributing the NYSUT “Opt Out of State Tests Fact Sheet” to educate members and parents about rights and consequences vis a vis state testing.

Who are tests bad for?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2013 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: December 2013 Leaflet

WHO ARE TESTS BAD FOR?

New Action opposes the Teacher Evaluation System, largely due to rating teachers based on student test scores. But we should object to tests for reasons beyond the bad APPR.

Every extra day of testing squeezes out another day of teaching. Every high stakes test, especially in this era of punitive accountability, leads many schools to increase the number of days of test prep. Each prep day squeezes out another day of real teaching. The test burden on principals has led many to eliminate foreign language and art. Recess is getting short-changed. In many schools, Science and Social Studies get repurposed to ELA and Mathematics prep in non-testing years. This is horrible for kids and schools.

Teachers are more and more forced to teach not “to the test” but “to the tests” in a dizzying flurry of diagnostics, pre-tests, and State tests. Trained professionals are being asked, nay, forced to teach what accountability requires, not what the children need.

And let’s not forget, tests make kids sick. In October of this year, the Delegate Assembly approved the following language as part of a resolution on standardized testing:

“the current intensity of the standardized test taking and test prep affects children emotionally and physically leading to anxiety, frustration, low self-esteem, headaches and other physical ailments.”

High Stakes Tests Make Kids Sick

This Wednesday the UFT passed a resolution that says, in part

“the current intensity of the standardized test taking and test prep affects children emotionally and physically leading to anxiety, frustration, low self-esteem, headaches, and other physical ailments”

This text was offered as an amendment by Maria Ramos, a New Action leader at the September 23 UFT Executive Board meeting, and it was accepted as friendly.

Maria spoke to the amendment:

Over the years as a school psychologist in the spring just before the ELA and math tests are administered I conduct “De-Stress the Test” Workshops to students, teachers and at PTA meetings. I have also observed 2nd graders take pilot tests. I have conducted hundreds of interviews with students as well. I begin by writing one word on the Smart Board and circle it. “Tests”. I asked the students how that word makes you feel.  90% of the responses are the same: “I’m scared”, “I’m sad”, and “I’m afraid”. “I don’t want to be left back”, “nervous”, “tired”. Children also complain of sleeplessness, headaches and stomachs. This borders on child abuse.  I don’t need to tell you how stressed out teachers are. The parents’ responses are interestingly the similar to their children.