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.