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Note to NYS Board of Regents

May 15, 2011

I sent the following email to the NYS Board of Regents regarding their vote today on the use of high-stakes standardized tests to account for 40% of teachers evals despite tremendous research indicating how damaging this will be. I encourage others to do the same:

Dear Board of Regents members,

My name is Mark Friedman. I am an educator in Rochester, NY and an active community organizer. I urge you tomorrow to not vote in favor of having student scores on standardized tests, derived from flawed value-added formulas to account for 40 percent of teachers’ evaluations. Developing such a system of evaluation will be incredibly expensive and seems hypocritical to propose when districts throughout the state are struggling with crippling budgets. This policy will further narrow the curriculum and pressure teachers to “teach to the test”, which is already an impediment to truly meaningful education in our schools. State tests were not designed for this purpose and using standardized tests in such a manner would be irresponsible and misguided. Value-added formulas and use of standardized tests in such a manner in general have little support from educational research experts, as there is growing consensus that such data is unreliable among researchers. There is already a wealth of policy research indicating the deeply problematic nature of the policy you are voting on tomorrow, some of which is featured here:

http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/bp278

http://www.ams.org/notices/201105/rtx110500667p.pdf

http://homepages.nyu.edu/~sc129/papers/corcoran_jennings_beveridge_2011_wkg_teacher_effects.pdf

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12820

In short, don’t let the ideological and financial pressure from elite corporate influences overrule sound educational research and practice. I hope that some of you still recognize the harm such policy will inflict upon public education and are open to more progressive, alternative ways of reforming teacher evaluation.

Thank you,

Mark Friedman

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