Assembly Passes Bill to Separate Student Test Scores from Teacher Evaluations

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
As students and teachers begin a new school year, I thought it would be a good time to update constituents on the Common Core standards, now known as the Next Generation Learning Standards, and where things stands with standardized testing.

As many will recall, in 2013 the New York State Board of Regents adopted the Common Core learning standards.

Almost immediately following their adoption, it was realized that the standards were flawed and that the quick implementation of Common Core would create unnecessary hardship on students, parents, teachers and administrators.

One of the most controversial aspects related to Common Core was the plan to use the scores student achieved on state tests to evaluate teachers.

While almost no one is or was opposed to holding teachers accountable, using standardized state test scores to judge a teacher’s competency was a flawed idea for many reasons.

First, some teachers had no control over how students would perform on the standardized testing because the testing covered topics the teacher was not responsible for.

For example, why should a music teacher be held accountable for a student’s score on a state math test.

Second, because of its quick implementation, teachers were rightfully concerned that they would unfairly be held accountable for student test scores when they had not had the time to properly prepare the students for the test.

This, of course, raised the concern that teachers would start teaching “for the standardized test” and not necessarily teaching in a manner that would ultimately be more educationally beneficial for the student.

Lastly, it was quickly realized that having a teacher evaluated based on students’ standardized test scores would place unfair pressure on students to do well on the tests because they would now need to worry about not only how their performance on the standardized testing personally affected their educational future but also their teacher’s professional future.

For these reasons and because of public outcry, in 2015 the Board of Regents delayed implementing the use of test scores in teacher’s evaluations.

Although the Board of Regents placed a moratorium on using test scores to evaluate teachers until Dec. 31, 2019, there is nothing to say it will not be a requirement in the future.

The only way to ensure this does not happen is to pass legislation.

This spring, with wide bipartisan support, the state Assembly passed legislation that would forbid using state test scores in teacher’s evaluations.

I was pleased to advocate and support this legislation and I am hopeful that next year the State Senate and Governor will take it up so that the legislation can become law.

Other than the moratorium on the use of standardized test scores in teachers’ evaluations and a few other tweaks, the Common Core standards continue to be in place in our schools albeit under a new name.

Most notably for students and parents is the continued use of standardized testing.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with testing, many continue to raise concerns about a “one size fits all” approach that comes with standardized testing and the concern that schools will continue to teach only for the test and not for general educational benefit.

Also, concerns about the use of test results and the high stakes nature of the testing persists.

There is merit to these concerns and I look forward to next session to continue to examine better ways in which we can ensure that our students are receiving the best education they can get.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone who is going back to school, teachers and students alike, have a great school year.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please feel free to contact me.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.