Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Duncan Threatened NY Over Test-Based Teacher Evals, Now Says "Fine For Another Year"

Back in June:

New York might lose out on $300 million if last-minute negotiations on teacher and principal evaluations untie Common Core test scores from final ratings, federal education officials warned Tuesday.

That’s how much New York is due to receive to implement a new evaluation system as part of its participation in Race to the Top, a competitive grant program launched by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009. New York won a total of $700 million after legislators allowed more charter schools to open, moved toward adopting the Common Core standards, and approved new teacher evaluation requirements.


But students’ poor performance on the first years of Common Core state tests, and a rocky rollout of the new teacher evaluations, have increased pressure on lawmakers to discount those scores. Ann Whalen, who oversees implementation of Race to the Top at the U.S. Department of Education, said that would “undermine four years of hard work by the state’s educators, school leaders and stakeholders.”

“Breaking promises made to students, educators and parents and moving backward on these commitments—including stopping the progress the state has made to improve student achievement—puts at risk up to $292 million of New York’s Race to the Top grant for improving schools and supporting their educators and students,” Whalen said in a statement.


Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on Thursday that states could delay the use of test results in teacher-performance ratings by another year, an acknowledgment, in effect, of the enormous pressures mounting on the nation’s teachers because of new academic standards and more rigorous standardized testing.

Sounding like some of his fiercest critics, Mr. Duncan wrote in a blog post, “I believe testing issues are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” and said that teachers needed time to adapt to new standards and tests that emphasize more than simply filling in bubbled answers to multiple-choice questions.

Over the past four years, close to 40 states have adopted laws that tie teacher evaluations in part to the performance of their students on standardized tests. Many districts have said they will use these performance reviews to decide how teachers are granted tenure, promoted or fired. These laws were adopted in response to conditions set by the Department of Education in the waivers it granted from the No Child Left Behind law that governs what states must do to receive federal education dollars. The test-based teacher evaluations were also included as conditions of Race to the Top grants that have been given by the Obama administration.
In his blog post, Mr. Duncan wrote that “too much testing can rob school buildings of joy, and cause unnecessary stress.” He also accepted responsibility for the federal department’s role in pushing states and districts too quickly toward new standards and tests.

The nearly 40 states that changed evaluations did so because of the pressure Duncan and the Obama USDOE put on them to do so.

The reason there is so much testing is because Arne Duncan and his boss, Barack Obama, wanted all this testing.

The reason my evaluation will be based on test scores - 20% state tests, 20% local "assessments" (which were even more horseshit than you think) - is because Arne Duncan's DOE pushed New York to institute these changes and threatened New York if any changes were made to them.

Now Arne Duncan is concerned that testing is taking the joy out of school?

Is he fucking kidding me?

In large measure, Arne Duncan and Barack Obama, along with the business people who pushed them into power and sustain them now, are at fault for all the testing, all the stress on kids and teachers, and all the joy being squeezed out of education.

You can tell reformers are feeling the pressure when even Duncan kinda acknowledges this.

Doesn't help me any if I come up "developing" or "ineffective" on my Regents-based evaluation component or local assessment (MOSL) component, however.

And God forbid I come up "ineffective" on both, I'm "ineffective" overall.

That's the law in New York State, thanks to Arne, Barack, Andy, the legislature and the Regents.

Even though Arne Duncan now says there's too much testing and too much stress related to the testing and the evaluations and the new standards and schools need time to implement them better.

Thanks, Arne.

I'd say this is better late than never - but it's really not.


  1. It's only a one year reprieve, and I believe it's because they are worried that angry teachers are now teaming up with all those angry parents who have been opting their kids out of the tests. If the two really do team up, I'm pretty sure CC will be finished. It's just one year to shut us up for now. The thing is that it won't shut parents up whose children will still be subjected to abuses such at excessive test prep, mind killing modules and pressure to take and pass tests based on a developmentally inappropriate curriculum.

    1. It doesn't mean anything - as you note, it's only one year, and the testing continues anyway. It's just a delaying tactic.

  2. It means nothing. The damage is already done. The pressure is so overwhelming sometimes I feel like I can't think straight. I know the content and I know how to teach. It as if everybody is running interference against me.

  3. Does anyone know when we are getting our teacher evaluation scores based on these tests?