Lauren Cohen, co-chapter leader from P.S. 321 in Brooklyn, raised a resolution on behalf of MORE in opposition of standardized testing and supporting parent’s right to opt-out. It also called for our union to take in active role in defending teachers who are conscientious objectors, an end to test based evaluations, and to educate our members on opt-out (full text below). UFT leadership from Unity caucus controls the Delegate Assembly and voted down our resolution, but most independent chapter leaders and delegates voted for it. The vote was so close, they had to count a second time.
Resolution Opposing Standardized Testing
WHEREAS, the volume of mandated standardized testing to which students are subjected in the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) has increased many times over in recent years, and
WHEREAS, the results of such tests cannot be used for diagnostics or remediation or other educational purposes, and
WHEREAS, such testing generates results that are used for high-stakes decision-making regarding both students, teachers, and schools
WHEREAS, such tests fail to measure the most important qualities schools should seek to develop in students, such as relationship-building, character, ethical development, critical thinking, persistence, imagination, insight, and collaboration, amongst others, and
WHEREAS, as a result, many students who develop these valued but unmeasured qualities, but who have extreme difficulty with standardized and other paper-and-pencil tests, experience these tests as stressful to the point of abuse, and
WHEREAS, the increasing focus on such testing causes severe distortions of schooling, inflicting trauma on many students and changing schools into test-prep factories
WHEREAS, the 2007 UFT task force on testing found that “The use of data from student test scores on standardized tests to evaluate teachers may appear simple,… but it is wrong” and The American Statistical Association warned that “Value Added Measure scores themselves have large standard errors”
WHEREAS there is nationwide opposition to the developmentally inappropriate Common Core standards and, as education historian and professor Diane Ravitch said, “They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.”
THEREFORE, BE IT
RESOLVED, that the UFT declare its opposition to the use of state- or federal-mandated standardized tests for the purposes of making grade promotion, graduation, teacher evaluation, or other high-stakes decisions regarding students or teachers, and
RESOLVED, that UFT supports the right of parents and guardians to choose to opt-out their children from any or all state- or federally-mandated testing, and supports the right of teachers to discuss freely with parents and guardians their rights and responsibilities with respect to such testing, all without any negative consequences from NYC DOE, and
RESOLVED, that UFT will fully support and protect members and others who may suffer any negative consequences as a result of speaking about their views of such testing or about the rights and obligations of parents and guardians with respect to such testing
RESOLVED, that UFT will use its organizational capacity to inform members in every chapter about the right of parents/guardians to opt-out their children from state or federal mandated testing and will take an active role in producing and distributing opt-out literature using materials from changethestakes.wordpress.com, coreteachers.org, and NYSAPE.org, including sample parent opt-out letters.
RESOLVED, that UFT will fully support and, if necessary, defend members who are conscientious objectors to administering standardized assessments
RESOLVED, that UFT will demand an immediate halt to all Common Core based testing, curriculum and standards, until it has been properly field tested
And be it further RESOLVED, that the UFT will continue to mobilize members and parents to achieve these goals through actions such as rallies, forums, and school-based protests.