More Than A Number: Concerned educators gather to examine standardized testing and teacher evaluations

At LIU Post, educators and community members gathered to discuss the negative impacts of the new scheme in New York to use students’ test scores directly in teacher evaluations. Previously in New York, there was a law forbidding this from happening. Though, political energy from Governor Cuomo and NY State Board of Regents Chancellor Tisch have turned the tables.

A video clip of panel moderator Dr. Arnold Dodge of LIU Post:


Some of the reasons why no one who cares about students or taxpayers should support this new maneuver:

1. It is going to cost local districts oodles of money to create their own evaluation systems. (And, they will have to pick from a list of “approved vendors” to buy from. Hmmmm….wonder if that will bring money and politics more into the picture?)

1B. All those student tests and teacher evaluation programs are sources of funds for greedy corporations who lobby your government. All this extra testing takes valuable time from your child’s school day, and will ultimately cost the school district and taxpayers lots of money.

2. It is wrong to believe that you can judge a classroom teacher based on their students’ test scores. What if their students’ have a bad year? What if the teacher has slow learners in his/her class? What about the other teachers who are part of the learning program, such as the Reading Teacher, Speech Teacher, Special Ed Teacher, etc?

3. Imagine how a young child, or a child with emotional problems would feel, if their teacher is fired, and someone tells them the reason is because of that student’s own, poor performance? Children should not be so directly burdened with the politics and problems of adults.

4. It is February. All the decisions on how this system works have not been resolved. And, yet, they are planning on giving teachers evaluations by June for this year.

There are many other reasons these evaluations are a bad idea. You can read a letter written by principals, listing their concerns: here.

Some demands that educators seem to want:

-Oppose using student test scores as any part of teacher evaluations

-Oppose using a numerical rating of 1-100 for the teacher evaluations.

One of the panelists pointed out that scales of 1 to 100 are usually used to assess someone’s knowledge on a discreet subject. A 1 to 100 scale does not even make sense in the instance of teacher evaluations. Though, it could be another game of the politicians to be able to demean teachers (ie: giving them scores such as 50%).

Some ways to take action:

1. For parents – Realize that standardized tests (and too many test) are bad for your child and your child’s teacher. Opt Out of Standardized Tests (which is difficult to do in New York). And/or, join the growing, parent Opt Out movement. There is a FaceBook group: here.

2. For community members, parents, and educators – Sign onto the Principals’ Letter at here.

3. Complain to NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo (who is one of the forces behind this bad decision)

4. Write letters to the NY State Board of Regents (especially Chancellor Tisch, who is one of the forces behind this bad decision)
-Chancellor Tisch’s e-mail is:
-A list of other NYS Regents members (some of whom voted for, and some against on this decision): here.

5. Write letters to your local politicians. Some of the speakers this evening seemed to think that NY State Senators could help to oppose this scheme.

6. For parents – Get involved with your PTA. Bring this issue to other parents to seek strategies and support.

About the More Than A Number symposium:

The symposium was held at LIU Post (CW Post) in Nassau County, Long Island, New York. Shortly after I registered, I received a message that while 400 had been expected, 900 had registered, so carpooling was important. This evening, one of the organizers told me that there were now 1,200 people expected. It was quite a crowd!

Everyone who spoke from the stage or audience was against the new evaluation method. At least two people from the stage mentioned Governor Cuomo by name as being unfair to educators. Many people expressed bad feelings for the stance of  “The Governor” and “politicians”.

There seem to be plans to hold similar meetings throughout the state.

More pictures from the event at Flickr: here.

The scene at "More Than A Number" testing/evaluation symposium

2/15/2012 "More Than A Number": Before the event, a crowd gathers


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3 Responses

  1. Folks interested in standardized testing, which APPR is based on, should look at this “What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success – Anu Partanen The Atlantic”

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