Last week, I wrote that the New York Assembly introduced a bill that would decouple assessments from teacher evaluations. This week, they passed that bill 131 to 1.
Opposition to the former Common Core standards and the associated tests became a rare bipartisan issue at the Capitol. Assemblyman Steve Otis, a Democrat from Westchester, voted for the repeal.
“We heard from school superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, the same message all united,” Otis said. “They didn’t think the state tests were helping them teach kids.”
Assemblyman Fred Thiele, a Republican from Long Island, says the change would restore local control to school districts.
It now heads to the Senate where there is momentum to pass this bill.
In the Senate, Senator Jim Tedisco, a former teacher, is sponsoring a similar measure in the state Senate. Tedisco, a Republican from Schenectady, says the list of supporters has grown to 38 senators, but there is still some opposition to putting the bill on the floor for a vote.
“We’re going to work hard to, no pun intended, educate my colleagues on the importance of not using a standardized test as the Holy Grail for evaluating kids,” Tedisco said. “Or by extension evaluating teachers.”
I wrote last week:
Common Core is still present in New York State regardless of the recent revisions of their state standards. In 2016, The New York State Education Department adjusted their statewide assessment to encourage “opt-ins” as the state has seen the most student opt-outs of any in the nation and that did not change in 2016 as some deemed the 3rd-grade assessment to be age-inappropriate.
This bill will, at the very least, ensure teachers that they won’t have to teach to the test in order to help their standing with evaluations. Also, it is true that some students just don’t test well. That does not mean they are not learning. I also hope that it will reduce potential pressure parents may receive from their local school districts if they decide to opt their student out.
My thoughts toward this bill haven’t changed. This is a good development, but we’ll have to wait and see how much impact it will make in the classroom. If lawmakers think this will curb parental efforts to opt-out of assessments they will probably be disappointed.
As I also said last week, the New York Legislature needs to pass a bill affirming assessment opt-out.