LETTER: An open letter from NYSUT

Thousands of teachers have already written letters to the commissioner and Board of Regents detailing implementation problems and the tremendous stress placed on students by unrelenting standardized testing. NYSUT is delivering the letters to policymakers on a daily basis as part of a “Tell it Like it Is” campaign.

“Teachers are speaking forcefully and eloquently on the harmful impact of too many tests, given too frequently and without giving teachers and schools adequate time to prepare students,” said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. “We know parents share teachers’ concerns about the state’s obsession with standardized testing. This petition gives parents a way to add their voices to the concerns teachers have been voicing since early fall. Students and teachers feel they are being set up for failure.”

In the union’s open letter to parents, Iannuzzi said, “No experienced teacher would test students on material before it’s been taught – and yet that’s the scenario the state has created in its rush to roll out new standardized tests.” The letter adds, “Too many students have not been taught the material for a whole new set of challenging standardized tests in math and English Language Arts.”

Neira said NYSUT has pressed the State Education Department and Regents to allow time for school districts and teachers to thoughtfully implement the Common Core; for a reduction in the number and length of standardized tests; and for the state to evaluate the financial cost and instructional time lost to standardized testing.

Neira said teachers have been clear that the department’s roll-out of the new standards and tests — under a backdrop of painful state and local budget cuts and thousands of layoffs — has been inconsistent, with delays and confusion at both the state and school district level.

In a poll of 1,600 New York teachers outside New York City conducted earlier this school year regarding their experiences with the implementation of the Common Core learning standards and tests, two-thirds said they are being pressured to move too fast to teach the new standards, while 65 percent said their students lacked access to textbooks and materials aligned to the new standards. Mid-way through the school year, more than three quarters of teachers said parents were not aware of the impact of the new Common Core standards on their children, or aware to a “low degree.”

“New York is going too far and too fast with its testing regimen, and the system is nearing the point of implosion,” Neira said. “How are parents going to react when test scores fall off a cliff and their children are wrongly labeled? What is going to be the impact on public education and educators?” Neira said. “We are fighting to have common sense prevail. Students and teachers need the time and resources to do this right.”

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