Yeah, like Christie and Cerf care.TRENTON — Tying test scores to teacher evaluations could narrow curriculums in schools and reinforce teaching for the sake of passing a test, the New Jersey Education Association argued today, saying that plans by the Christie Administration to impose performance reviews based on how well students do on standardized tests were unworkable.Last month, acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf unveiled a five-point reform proposal that would abandon New Jersey’s teacher job guarantee program and replace it with an evaluation system rewarding educators for good student performance and working in at-risk schoolsUnder the plan, the state's public school teachers would be assessed and paid using a new rating system based in part on how their students do in the classroom.But the NJEA, which is opposed to the Christie plan, said it had serious limitations. Citing experts at a recent symposium by the Educational Testing Service, union officials said current tests can do little to distinguish the performance of one teacher from another, and could also lead to the abandonment of non-tested subjects in favor of those that have consequences.
Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, said schools are already over-emphasizing standardized test-taking and preparation, to the point where “we’ve adopted a strategy that focuses on drilling basic skills and narrows the curriculum.”
At the same time, between 70 and 80 percent of teachers can’t currently be evaluated with test score-based models, said Arthur E. Wise, president emeritus of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. “It will take hundreds of millions of unbudgeted dollars to create tests for all subject areas and grades,” he remarked. “Are we ready to pay for them? What will we have to give up?”
Cerf, however, rejected the union’s arguments.
“There is a complete lack of sophistication in what they are saying,” he said. “They are just fundamentally opposed to having teachers accountable for student learning. And that’s not in the best interests of children.”Why do these people get to impugn the motives of teachers and their unions freely? Why do they get away with not having to make counter-arguments, replying instead with ad hominem attacks?
Because they can.