NY Common Core Panel Silent on Teacher Evaluations

March 11, 2014 7:16 pm Last Updated: March 12, 2014 7:25 am

NEW YORK—The panel created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to review the roll-out of Common Core testing standards in the state released its preliminary recommendations Monday. It failed, however, to mention the most controversial issue relevant to Common Core–the teachers evaluations.

The Common Core Implementation Panel was set it up in early February to review how the Common Core learning standards have been put into practice. 

Common Core is a set of learning benchmarks promising students college readiness. Common Core has been accepted by 47 states, partly as a condition to win money from federal grant program Race to the Top.

Race to the Top requires students to be tested every year to see how much progress they have made. It also requires states to evaluate teachers partly based on how much students have improved on the tests.

The practice has been a thorn in the eye of many teachers, and most prominently teachers unions. Yet Cuomo’s panel doesn’t even mention the evaluations in its 17-page report. 

The United Federation of Teachers, a leading teachers union in New York City, has been arguing with the city’s Education Department over the evaluations since 2010—until finally last year State Education Commissioner John King, Jr. stepped in and decided 20 to 40 percent of a teacher performance rating will be based on the test’s results.

Disappointment

One of the members of the panel, East Aurora High School teacher Todd Hathaway, released a statement Tuesday saying his concerns over the Common Core roll-out, including the teachers evaluations, have been ignored.

“The failure to address testing and evaluation issues in a comprehensive way suggests the dynamics of the classroom will not change,” he wrote.

The panel should have addressed, among other things, the “insanity of pretending there is validity to teacher ratings that are derived from student scores widely acknowledged to be invalid.”

According to Hathaway, the panel should have called for pausing the use of test scores for important decisions about teachers. That mirrors the stance of the teachers union, which demands the tests be cut from the evaluations for three years, to give teachers and students time to adapt.

The panel did address a range of other issues related to Common Core. It recommended banning standardized testing in kindergarten up to second grade, limiting class time allowed to be used for test preparation and testing, more focus on professional development for teachers, and improving student data privacy.

Most of the issues above have already been taken up by the Board or Regents, the state’s governing body for education.

“I wouldn’t accept this kind of work from my students, and I don’t accept it here,” Hathaway said of the report.