Common-sense voices of teachers, parents making a difference

When the State Education Department earlier today released student scores on this year’s rigorous new state standardized tests, SED’s accompanying statement stressed that the scores need to be viewed in context and should not negatively impact teacher, school, principal or district accountability. This suggests that SED is starting to hear what educators, parents and students have been saying — most powerfully, at the One Voice United rally in June — and in many other forums.

These acknowledgments by SED show the impact that NYSUT’s advocacy, in concert with parents statewide, has had in asserting the need for common sense in the use of state standardized test scores. Going forward, input from practitioners and parents is essential. As NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi says in his statement today: “Now, more than ever, the voices of parents and educators must be part of the conversation, and education policies must be based on trust, collaboration and respect. Common sense should guide decision-making. As New York state moves forward toward an effective transition to the Common Core, parents and educators are counting on a solid, thoughtful implementation plan that provides the appropriate time, professional development and resources needed to achieve the high standards that all of us – parents, teachers and policymakers – want and are committed to achieving. This is how New York state can get it right.”

SED’s press release notes that the results do not reflect a decrease in performance for schools or students “but rather a raising of standards to reflect college and career readiness in the 21st century.” SED Commissioner John King underscored that in a comment to reporters: “There may be some who would use today’s results to attack principals and teachers. That would be wrong.”

NYSUT’s message has been consistent — that it’s essential to “get it right” when implementing new standards, curriculum and tests. SED’s release said scores will not negatively impact district, school, principal, or teacher accountability. “No new districts will be identified as Focus Districts and no new schools will be identified as Priority Schools based on 2012-13 assessment results,” SED said. “The student growth scores used in teacher and principal evaluation result in similar proportions of educators earning each rating category (highly effective, etc) for student growth in 2012-13 as 2011-12.”

Last week, SED Commissioner King sent a memo to school district superintendents, urging them to recognize that this is the first year of the new assessments and recommending “judicious and thoughtful” use of the state’s multiple measures evaluation system. SED also said it is providing guidance for districts to ensure that students are not negatively impacted by the new proficiency rates.

These are steps toward getting it right.


  1. Chris Cerrone August 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    I would like to share this quote from a fellow education advocate:

    “31% of NYS students passed the state tests.
    The storm is here and is exactly as bad as they said it would be. They created the storm Did we expect any different? To place the blame anywhere besides these tests will get us nowhere.

    Our job is to pick up the pieces they just shattered. We are the only proactive solution to the problems we are now faced with. Along with a note that claims these kids are failures, will be a another note showing they are not on track for college or a career…..Empower them to know they are more than a test score.

    Now is not the time to drag kids into this battle. It is also not the time to start the usual “how do we get these scores up”as it will only highlight the students’ failure…..We start with a discussion about what is right in our schools, what are our strengths, what is the best way for our school and community to operate… We don’t answer to a test. We answer to the well-being and future of our kids!” – K.G.

  2. Greg McCrea August 7, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. King’s advice to superintendents to be “judicious” is hollow lip service to his critics and an insult to thousands of professionals statewide. “Proceed with good judgement?!?” It doesn’t get much more ambiguous than that, and he’s proven his own judgement (and that of Tisch and the Regents) to be anything but sensible; anything but wise, reasonable, or sane.

    If he truly wanted to provide guidance to NY schools, and support for their teachers, he would have chosen phrases like “be conservative”, “exercise restraint”, “provide a measured response”, or “temper your actions.” But alas, he did not. Any read of his remarks as supportive of teachers is a stretch, pure hyperbole.

    Words matter, they have the power to convey support and understanding. Unfortunately they often fall flat. “Getting it right” just doesn’t do it for me, it falls flat. It doesn’t convey the support of teachers across New York. King and his minions at SED got it wrong, they’re getting it wrong at every turn, and every indication suggests they will continue to get it wrong as they move forward. It’s time for a change, it’s time for a new direction, it’s time for our leaders to acknowledge the inferno before us and charge into the flames for a fight.

  3. Sara Wottawa August 7, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    With all do respect Mr. Iannuzzi, Assessment scores should not be used to rate teachers in the first place. I’m appalled that you agreed to rate teacher’s based on assessments and that you are cheerleading for the common core. Please take a stand and lead your members effectively away from this nonsense. I am not a teacher, I am a parent and I do NOT want my children’s scores being used to measure teacher effectiveness. We will be Opting out of all SLOs and State assessments my children will not be apart of this unjust and demoralizing system!

  4. Bullied Teacher August 7, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    My superintendent does not know the meaning of judicious or thoughtful. Anything that can be done to humiliate and demoralize teachers is fair game. Hence I sign this…

    Bullied Teacher

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