Weingarten Urges Delay in Linking Tests to Evaluations

The head of the country’s second largest teachers union has unsurprisingly urged the government to put off linking standardized test results with evaluations of schools, students and teachers until a consensus has been reached. Karen Matthews writes for the Associated Press in Yahoo News that Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has called for penalties aligned with national standards tests to be delayed until the Common Core benchmarks have been properly implemented.

She fears that without a moratorium on these negative consequences until everyone has reached the same page things will only be made worse.

“The fact that the changes are being made nationwide without anything close to adequate preparation is a failure of leadership, a sign of a broken accountability system and, worse, and an abdication of our responsibility to kids, particularly poor kids,” Weingarten told the Association for a Better New York, a business group.

Forty-five states plus the District of Columbia have acted to adopt the Common Core standards, hailed by many as a way to save a failing education system.

New York is among the first states to administer the new tests and the experience has had some teething trouble and faced some resistance. Matthews reports that some students complained that the tests were too difficult and didn’t allow enough time to complete while there were also reports of children breaking down in tears from the stress of the experience.

While Weingarten claims to be in support of the Common Core standards, what she’s campaigning against is basing teacher and student evaluations on this year’s tests and arguing that instead states should hold off until they have been fully implemented.

“Across the state, scores from this spring’s assessments may be used to determine whether students advance or are held back, to designate a school’s performance, and even to determine whether schools stay open or shut down. And they will be used as 20 percent of teacher evaluations,”

Andrew Kirtzman, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Education, claimed that the resistance was due to a special interest cell trying to protect their own jobs. Merryl Tisch, head of New York’s Board of Regents, noted that the same percentage of teachers would be rated as ‘effective’ under the new system as in past years and added that the New York State Education Department has already stated they would not designate any schools as failing based on this years’ tests.