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Latest News - October 2013

October 10, 2013
Another teachers union calls for delaying Common Core consequences
Source: Capital New York
Eliza Shapiro

The United Federation of Teachers is trying to lower the stakes in the implementation of the state's new Common Core curriculum.

Last night, the U.F.T.'s delegate assembly officially called for a moratorium on any meaningful consequences for teachers or students resulting from the new state tests, echoing requests from the American Federation of Teachers and the state teachers' union. The delegates resolved that curriculums and resources in New York City public schools are not yet aligned with the standards for Common Core testing.

"I don't know of any other way to force the people responsible to get a good curriculum and get matching materials," Michael Mulgrew, the U.F.T.'s president, told Capital, arguing that New York City teachers and students need more time to teach and learn the new curricula before they are penalized or rewarded for their performance. 

Mulgrew pointed to the fact that less than a third of New York City public school students passed the new Common Core English and math tests, and noted that 85 percent of school progress reports are calculated based on test scores.

Students' grade promotions are based on their standardized test performance, and test scores account for a major portion of admission criteria for gifted and talented programs and specialized high schools. A portion of teachers' evaluations is determined by student scores on Common Core tests. 

The U.F.T.'s request comes three weeks after New York State United Teachers called for the same moratorium on a state-wide level. 

"To attach any consequences to testing that is not followed by instruction because there isn't adequate preparation in terms of getting the curriculum out makes that testing meaningless," said Richard Iannuzzi, the president of NYSUT. "If we continue to move through testing the way that we are now, we will play into the hands of those who want to see the Common Core undermined," he said, emphasizing that the moratorium is not a criticism of the Common Core's standards. 

In April, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called "for a transition period before high stakes are attached" to Common Core assessments, saying she wanted to make the accountability of the new standards "real."

The Common Core and teacher evaluations have been the subject of much recent controversy, in New York City and around the country. Under a new teacher evaluation system introduced this year, a portion of teachers' end-of-year evaluations is based on how well their students perform on the Common Core tests. 

"We never expected this when we passed the teacher evaluation law," Mulgrew said. "We always assumed that management of the school system would be competent." 

Pausing the consequences of the new tests on New York City schools would require legislation at the state level.  

Erin Hughes, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Education, responded to the U.F.T.'s suggested moratorium: "The Department has invested over 100 million dollars to help teachers prepare for the common core and has also invested additional dollars for students who struggled with last year’s exams. It is a disservice to our students who do not have the luxury of time to delay the very things that will improve classroom instruction and prepare them for college and careers.”



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