Appeal to Legislators: Appreciation for Our Teachers

Save Our Schools urges you to write to all your legislators and officials. Ask them to honor those who teach our young by enacting a moratorium on high stakes testing. Use the sample letter below, or write one of your own, but act now.

Download the portable document file [pdf] or the Microsoft Word version. Please send a personalized letter or the sample to Legislators and Officials.

Sample Letter to Legislators; Teacher Appreciation

Honorable (Legislator/Official)

Teacher Appreciation Day is May 7, 2013. We ask you to show our appreciation of these dedicated professionals by enacting a moratorium on burdensome high stakes tests. On May 7 stop blaming teachers for our society’s complex problems, and stop using student test scores to hold teachers accountable for circumstances that are beyond their control.

Testing takes time and money away from instruction. Instruction is what we hire teachers for.

The evidence is clear that the test scores are not an accurate measure of teachers’ effectiveness.
Statisticians disavow the use of value added modeling of student scores for teacher evaluation; this sophisticated statistical technique can only be used with very large data sets. Indeed teachers’ “grades” on these tests swing widely from year to year showing that the grades are due to factors other than the teacher’s work.
High stakes undercut tests’ value as an indication of what is being learned in class. When children practice test taking skills, the test is not a direct indicator of what children learn in class.
Using children’s test scores to evaluate teachers and schools distorts the relationship between teachers and students and encourages teachers to focus on test preparation. This is especially harmful since the tests often have superficial questions rather than analysis, critical thinking, problem solving, or creativity.

More detailed and scientific evidence of the consequences of high stakes testing can be found in Economic Policy Institute’s Briefing Paper #278, “Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers,” a formal statement by experts in social science research. The co-authors include educational historian Diane Ravitch and Robert L. Linn, author of the leading textbook on educational assessment.

Race to the Top and Common Core State Standards require that states and cities spend millions of dollars to develop additional tests. Meanwhile many school districts are reducing the number of highly trained teachers employed in the public schools. Certified teachers can assess student learning in multiple ways without standardized tests.

Research has shown consistently that smaller class size and highly trained certified teachers increase school learning and narrow the racial and socioeconomic gaps in school achievement. On the other hand, a decade of increased testing in response to No Child Left Behind has not led to any reduction in racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps or improvement in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

We urge you to consider the evidence and hear the voices of teachers, students and parents across the country who have had enough. Honor Teacher Appreciation Day by placing a moratorium on the use of high stakes testing.

Sincerely yours,

References

Baker, E. L., Barton, P. E., Darling –Hammond, L. D., Haertel, E., Ladd, H. F., Linn, R. L., Ravitch, D., Rothstein, R., Shavelson, R. J., & Shepard, L.A. (2010). Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers: Briefing Paper 278. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Campbell, D.T. (1976). Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change. Dartmouth College, Occasional Paper Series, #8.

Deming, W. E. (1993). The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education (2nd ed). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kennedy, M. M. (2010). Attribution Error and the Quest for Teacher Quality. Educational Researcher, 39, 591-598

Murnane, R. J. & Steele, J. L.(2007). Measuring teachers’ effectiveness through value-added modeling. Future of Children 17. 26-27 (full text in articles folder)

Viadero, D. (2006). Race Report’s Influence Felt 40 Years Later: Legacy of Coleman study was new view of equity. EdWeek [Online] Available http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/06/21/41coleman.h25.html

Letter Courtesy of Rosalie Friend, Ph.D. Dr. Friend is a retired educational psychologist specializing in the cognitive processes of reading. She taught assessment, educational psychology, and reading instruction to teacher candidates at City University of New York after teaching reading and study strategies to incoming freshmen. Currently, and for the past few years, Dr. Friend serves as a Save Our Schools Information Coordinator in New York.