The New York State Assembly has passed a bill that would postpone the use of students’ Common Core test results in teacher evaluations for the next two years.
After Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature agreed in March to exclude Common Core results from students’ overall grades over the next two years, the most recent legislation provides similar treatment to teachers who could have otherwise suffered if student test scores fell dramatically as they adjusted to the new curriculum.
The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) had been advocating for this moratorium since April of last year, according to NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn.
“Last April, students had been tested on material they had not been taught,” Korn said. “What that resulted in is test scores that were invalid, unreliable, and inaccurate for students.”
Korn detailed the breakdown of teacher evaluations in New York state based on a 100-point scale: 20 percent based on state standardized tests, another 20 based on locally developed measures, and 60 percent based on classroom evaluations. By removing Common Core test scores from a teacher’s evaluation, Korn said, there is more room to focus on classroom instruction rather than standardized testing.
He added that work remains to be done.
“We want to look at the impact [the Common Core] has on English Language Learners and special education,” he said, as there seems to be a disproportionate number of teachers in these fields that receive low evaluations. These subject areas, along with art, music, and physical education, may be more difficult to evaluated using standardized testing, and Korn suggested the use of portfolios and projects as an alternative method.
The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) said that while this decision relieves some of the anxiety about higher standards for teachers regarding their evaluations, the goal of the Common Core remains the same: to prepare every New York student for success.
“We have said all along that the simultaneous roll out of teacher evaluations and the Common Core implementation has been uneven across the state’s 700 districts. The evaluation law was enacted in 2012 with broad support, but everyone recognized that thoughtful adjustments would be needed along the way,” said NYSED Commissioner John B. King Jr.
The Common Core test results will still count for teachers who were rated “effective” or “highly effective”, but not for those who received “developing” or “ineffective” evaluations.
King said NYSED is still a strong advocate of the Common Core, believing it will prepare students for college and careers.
“Given that a quarter of our high school students do not graduate in four years, less than half of our high school graduates are college and career ready, and persistent racial and socioeconomic gaps in student achievement, there is more work ahead for New York,” he said.