Dear Commons Community,
Governor Andrew Cuomo has made a major shift in his position on using standardized test scores for teacher evaluations. Whether influenced by national trends or whether he has come to really understand the shallowness of standardized testing for this purpose is not clear. Regardless, on Wednesday, members of his administration suggested that Mr. Cuomo has begun pushing for a reduction. This would represent an about-face from January, when the governor called for test scores to determine 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. As reported in the New York Times:
“Less than a year ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York proclaimed that the key to transforming the state’s education system was tougher evaluations for teachers, and he pushed through changes that increased the weight of student test scores in teachers’ ratings.
Now, facing a parents’ revolt against testing, the state is poised to change course and reduce the role of test scores in evaluations. And according to two people involved in making state education policy, Mr. Cuomo has been quietly pushing for a reduction, even to zero. That would represent an about-face from January, when the governor called for test scores to determine 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
Administration officials characterized the governor’s position differently, saying he was waiting for the recommendations of a task force he had set up to conduct a review of the Common Core standards and assessments.
“There is no position of this administration with respect to this issue,” the governor’s director of state operations, Jim Malatras, said this week.
New York’s expected turnabout comes as states across the country are trying to respond to anger over standardized testing, and as the Obama administration is backing off the idea of tying teacher evaluations to test scores.
The idea that Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, is pushing for the changes comes from several different avenues. Two members of the Board of Regents, the body that sets state education policy, said they had also heard that Mr. Cuomo was urging a moratorium on the use of test scores in evaluations. The two board members, Kathleen M. Cashin and Betty A. Rosa, both said they would heartily support such a change.
“I’m thrilled,” Dr. Cashin said. Asked why she thought the governor might have changed his view, she said she thought he might have listened to educators’ concerns about using the tests.
“I think that the governor has done a lot of reflection,” she said. “He’s had a lot of outreach. A person can see things differently the more outreach you do.”
In New York, Mr. Cuomo’s push to give test scores more weight in evaluations helped propel a widespread test refusal movement this year, centered on Long Island. More than 200,000 of the nearly 1.2 million students expected to take the annual reading and math tests did not sit for them in 2015. At some schools, as many as 75 percent of students opted out.”
Better late than never. Now Governor Cuomo needs to rein in his unabashed support for the privatization of public schooling especially the proliferation of charter schools.