UFT Calls For Moratorium on High-Stakes Consequences for Common Core

Citing a lack of curriculum materials in many schools in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is calling for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences for Common Core Standards assessments as the city schools are just a few months into implementing new teacher evaluations.

The union, which made a request just weeks before the legislature hosts a hearing on state education policies in New York City, wants a moratorium on using the exams to make any high-stakes decisions for both students and teachers. The union is pushing for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany lawmakers to make yet another change to the state’s teacher evaluation law, according to Geoff Decker of Gotham Schools.

“We’re 15 percent through the school year and this is still a complete mess,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “We have no choice but to go in this direction.”

New York City is in its first year of implementing evaluations this year. Commissioner John King imposed a plan for the city to begin implementing in June. It’s also come in the same year that nearly all city schools ordered new curriculum aligned to Common Core standards.

A UFT survey of elementary and middle school teachers showed that most schools are still missing all or part of the curriculum. About 64% of schools still lacked some math curriculum materials and 78% had not received English curriculum, according to the survey.

The Department of Education was responsible for delivering the curriculum materials by the start of the school year. In addition to the uneven distribution of curriculum, schools have faced other issues around the state- and city-approved curriculum.

Several schools received hundreds of copies of the wrong book, while others received too few copies to teach the curriculum for an entire grade. The curriculum is supposed to help teachers better prepare students for the state’s end-of-the-year standardized tests, and students’ performances on the tests will have a direct result on the rating teachers receive on their evaluations.

According to Mulgrew, that uneven distribution of curriculum materials will affect teachers’ performance.

“Now we know there is no debating with the fact that [the city's] incompetence on getting the right materials to schools will have an adverse effect on the students and teachers,” Mulgrew said. “We’re not telling them not to administer the tests.

Mulgrew said the union wants the moratorium to be lifted “once you can assure us that every school” has the appropriate materials.

The union will also present its case to state lawmakers who are hosting a hearing on high-stakes testing and other state education policies on October 29th in New York City.