Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thanks for your service, but please educate yourselves...

This is an open letter to New York State boards of education at local school districts across the state. I am Dr. Carol Mikoda, a lifelong resident of my school district, a former employee, and currently a local community college writing instructor.
I am here to talk to you, the local boards of education, elected representatives of this community whose children benefit from the K12 schools you oversee. I thank you for your voluntary service to our communities.
You are in a position to affect the quality of those schools and schools across the state and nation.
The New York State School Boards Association, at its annual business meeting in October, will discuss a resolution supporting the use of student performance in annual performance reviews of our teachers.
The Board of Regents wants state test scores to count for 40%.
I am asking you to send a message to NYSSBA that you do not support the evaluation of teachers using student scores.
Evaluating teachers in that way will not contribute to the quality of education and can actually produce schools with narrow curricula and students who think only in the most narrow sense, in limited ways, followed test-developed formulae.
Contrary to the justification given for using such tests, equity will suffer when students who do not perform well are shut out of an education.
I know you want all our students to leave Windsor as competent career- and college-ready problem solvers.
The changes that come with over-reliance on these flawed tests and with de-skilling of teaching professionals are far-reaching.
The evaluation plan has been declared flawed by groups such as the American Educational Research Association,  the American Statistical Association and the American Mathematics Society.  
Too many factors affect student performance to hold teachers accountable to that degree.
The tests students take are intended for other purposes, created by non-educators with no direct knowledge of our students and classrooms.
The motive of the companies producing the tests is profit, rather than our children’s potential.
These businesses have not provided evidence to support the effectiveness of these tests for performance review nor even for educational purposes.
I urge you to oppose the NYSSBA resolution number 9 on APPR by voting against it when attending the conference or by sending a letter of opposition by September 19.
We would like, of course, to use numbers and data to make schools more efficient, but education at its best involves human beings working face to face.
Teacher evaluation is difficult. Student assessment is complex.
Only the teamwork of professional educators can help us arrive at better systems of evaluation and assessment.
We should engage in that teamwork while asking politicians and interested philanthropists to solve the major problems affecting student achievement - namely, poverty and inequity.
Please take a look at the letter I’ve left with the clerk and consider sending it as a group or individually to NYSSBA before September 19.
Thank you for your time.

No comments: