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NYSUT Delegates Call On The New York State Board Of Regents To Direct The State Education Commissioner To ‘Overhaul’ Testing System

Published Monday, May 6, 2019
by Sylvia Saunders/NYSUT Communications
NYSUT Delegates Call On The New York State Board Of Regents To Direct The State Education Commissioner To ‘Overhaul’ Testing System

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - In a sharp rebuke, Delegates at the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Representative Assembly unanimously called on the State Board of Regents to direct State Education Department (SED) Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to make the necessary changes to fix the State’s broken Standardized Testing System.

The special order of business, approved unanimously by more than 1,700 Delegates, says NYSUT has no confidence that Elia will do the right thing on their own - so the Union is counting on the Regents Board to stop the madness and finally return trust in the system.

The resolution notes Commissioner Elia and SED have failed to make the many changes recommended by NYSUT, including reducing testing, making the tests more developmentally appropriate and resetting the scoring benchmarks.

The State continues to press forward on computer-based testing, despite widespread technological problems and evidence that students do better with pen-and-paper testing, the resolution also notes.

“We’ve ‘lost confidence’ in the Commissioner and the State Education Department ‘to make the necessary changes on their own,’” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said. “New York State Educators and New York State education ‘isn’t failing’ – ‘the Commissioner and SED are.’”

The vote comes after NYSUT launched its Correct the Tests Campaign to raise awareness and demand the State fix the flawed, invalid ELA and Math Tests.

The Union has spread the word on parents’ opt-out rights and fact-checked the commissioner’s misleading letter to school districts supporting the tests.

Across the State, Educators and parents have held meetings with the Regents, organized media events and written articles detailing their horrible experiences with these tests - whether on paper or the computer.

“They’ve ‘failed to set appropriate benchmarks to ensure the tests accurately measure student knowledge and learning,’” DiBrango said. “They’ve ‘failed to appropriately reduce the amount of testing.’  ‘They’ve failed to make the tests developmentally appropriate.’  ‘And they’ve failed miserably, year after year, in their roll out of the computer-based testing.’”

The move came just after Elia faced a roomful of angry Union Leaders at the pre-RA Local and Retiree Council Presidents Conference.  A long line of frustrated Local Presidents peppered Elia with a litany of questions on numerous testing problems, with some calling it nothing short of child abuse.

“I feel there’s a ‘disconnect’ between SED and Rank-and-File Teachers,” Vestal TA’s Joe Herringshaw said. “Partnership is ‘non-existent.’”

“For three and a half years we’ve ‘seen indifference’ from the commissioner,” said Lakeland FT’s Michael Lillis, speaking in favor of the resolution. “She ‘has not listened to us on the abusive nature of testing.’  ‘When professionals report abuse, we cannot accept indifference.’”

Kenmore TA’s Peter Stuhlmiller noted that members have been meeting with their individual Regents members and the Regents “are getting it.”  “This resolution ‘puts the heat where it belongs, on the commissioner’s boss, the Board of Regents,’” Stuhlmiller said.

“Now is the time for the Board of Regents - those who have the authority to evaluate the commissioner - ‘to direct her to make changes on behalf of our schools and our students,’” DiBrango said. “And we will be watching, as we have been, to ensure that meaningful steps are taken in the next six months.”

United Federation of Teachers’ Leroy Barr, also a NYSUT Board Member, noted that if the Regents fail to force Elia to fix what’s broken, the Union will act accordingly and “do everything we can to get her to step down.”

Delegates also approved an amendment including the NYSESLAT, a standardized exam administered to English language learners, in the call to action.

To Continue Reading This Labor News Story & To Read The Resolution Approved By NYSUT Delegates, Go To:




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