I am not sure this was the outcome that anyone wanted with Race to the Top — more tests.
In response to the push in the federal grants for meaningful teacher evaluations based on student performance, New York City is developing its own battery of new tests that will be used to rate teachers. (Students in New York City will still also have to pass the state’s Regents test.)
The city understands the fear that more testing will be seen as an assault on true classroom learning and a drain on instructional time. Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city’s chief academic officer, told The New York Times, “How do you create an additional assessment that is actually going to strengthen instructional practice, rather than divert time away from instruction?”
(Here is a link, but the Times’ content is now accessible only to paid subscribers.)
New York City is getting $256 million in RTTT money, and will use about a quarter of it to develop as many as 16 new standardized exams to cover science, math, social studies and English in the 3rd through 12th grades, according to the Times.
The city says these new tests won’t be mindless bubble tests but exams that require kids show what they can do by solving a multi-step problem or writing an essay. As the Times reported: Mr. Polakow-Suransky said each test would most likely last a class period or two, and ideally be similar to a regular classroom assignment. Teachers, knowing that up to 20 percent of their annual rating would depend on how well their students do, might teach to these tests, but because they test higher-order thinking skills, that could actually strengthen instruction, he said.
Is there any chance that instruction could improve as a result and will this be the model in Georgia, which is also on a path to teacher evaluations that weigh student performance?
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog