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Union Resolutions

Resolution calling for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences for state tests

Union Resolutions

WHEREAS the United Federation of Teachers has since its founding been dedicated to creating conditions in New York City public schools that enhance learning and help every child to achieve; and

WHEREAS the UFT strongly supports the Common Core Learning Standards as a means toward ensuring that children in the city and across the country learn the critical thinking skills necessary for success in today’s competitive world; and

WHEREAS the UFT has always held that teachers must be given adequate resources and professional development for the transition to the Common Core standards to succeed; and

WHEREAS New York in the spring of 2013 administered new tests based on the Common Core before teachers and schools had even received curricula aligned to the new standards, with the result that student scores plunged in New York City and across the state; and

WHEREAS five weeks into the 2013-14 school year, many schools across New York City had still not received their new curricula aligned to the Common Core or had received them late, which is particularly problematic considering that the next round of state tests is to occur within a matter of months, in spring 2014; and

WHEREAS it is harmful and unfair to children to give them high-stakes tests on material and skills which their schools have not had adequate time or resources to teach; and

WHEREAS in New York City in particular a student’s scores on these tests can have life-changing consequences, including possibly determining whether the student is promoted to the next grade; and

WHEREAS in addition to the consequences for students, state tests count for 20 percent of a teacher’s year-end performance rating under the new teacher evaluation and development system that was established by order of the state education commissioner this year; and

WHEREAS the UFT continues to support having an evaluation system that bases a teacher’s rating  on multiple measures, rather than solely on a principal’s opinion; and that gives teachers a professional voice in their schools; and

WHEREAS the UFT nevertheless holds that attaching high-stakes consequences to the new state exams at this time would be reckless and damaging to our public schools in light of the failure of the city to ensure that schools and teachers received adequate resources and professional development prior to the start of this school year; and

WHEREAS, the UFT recognizes that the high stakes attached to New York State tests are a result of federal and state education laws as well as New York City Department of Education policy; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls for a moratorium on attaching high-stakes consequences to state tests until representatives of all interested parties — including parents and educators — have worked with members of Congress, the state Legislature, the state Commissioner of Education, the Board of Regents and the New York City Panel for Educational Policy to carefully examine how well the new curricula, professional development and tests align to the Common Core standards; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this moratorium will allow the state to continue administering the tests but will require that both the state and city pause in attaching to the test results any high-stakes consequences for students, teachers or schools until all stakeholders are assured that the system for implementing Common Core standards is working as it should to give our children the world-class education they deserve.