Gov. Andrew Cuomo was questioned earlier Friday about news that school districts are likely to request delays in implementing the new teacher evaluation program he inserted in this year’s budget. He stressed that the tests used in the evaluations don’t affect the students grades.
“The grades are meaningless to the students,” Cuomo said in a brief press gaggle following an Association for a Better New York breakfast event in New York City.
The tests, given in grades 3-8 in English and math are used to evaluate how effective a teacher is. Scores from a given teacher’s class can be compared at the start and end of a school year to see how much the kids have learned.
The idea has enraged teachers though, and it has sparked a growing boycott with parents saying that their kids are being stressed out by the exams.
Cuomo said he believes they haven’t done a good job of publicizing the fact that the tests, for at least the next five years, won’t count at all for the students.
“They can opt out if they want to, but on the other hand if the child takes the test, it’s practice and the score doesn’t count."
The message from Cuomo:
Hey, parents, these tests don't count for your kids, just for their teachers, so why not send them on in to school to take those state tests so we can start evaluating their teachers via the scores and fire some of them?
Of course this argument is jive.
If the tests are used as bludgeons to close schools and fire teachers, they cause huge anxiety all throughout the school, from the children to the adults.
Kids can see when adults are stressed out or worried about stuff, and you can bet they know that their teachers are worried they're going to lose their jobs based on these test scores.
Cuomo can try and drive a wedge between parents and teachers all he wants by saying the tests don't count for students, only teachers.
The truth is, that's only for a little while - the scores will soon count for children too.
And even if they don't count now, they very much count for the teachers and the schools and that's more than enough to drive up the anxiety levels of everybody in the school.
Then there's the problem that, even if the tests don't count for students yet, there is still much class time that is lost to the actual testing period as well as the test prep.
I can't imagine too many parents are going to be won over by Cuomo's "Hey, the scores don't count for the kids for a couple more years" argument since the entire culture of the school will still be affected by the high stakes surrounding these tests.