Press Release

WASHINGTON (June 18, 2013) — Today’s Department of Education announcement misses the mark on a responsible transition to new college- and career-ready standards and assessments. If students are going to meet these new standards, then we need teachers to teach to the standards and schools to support them. But today’s announcement does little to make that a reality. Rather, the department is sending harmful mixed signals that students should meet the new standards, but it’s still okay for teachers and schools to be evaluated on the old ones.

While we applaud the department for trying to avoid double testing, we are concerned about the rest of their accountability plan. Schools participating in the “pilot” versions of new college- and career-ready tests would be allowed to postpone their rating for a year. But schools that are in an even more awkward situation — giving students old tests even while teaching new standards — would not get the same consideration. This will likely result in students in these schools not getting the rigorous instruction aligned with college- and career-ready standards that they need, since that’s not what their school will be judged on.

When it comes to educator evaluations, districts would be allowed to delay the consequences based on these evaluations until 2016-2017. This means that evaluation results won’t be used to take action right away when teachers aren’t doing the job students need them to do. In the meantime, the evaluations themselves would have to be based on measures of student growth that combine both old and new tests. This is an unreasonable definition of growth.

The transition to college- and career-ready standards and assessments needs serious, thoughtful attention to policy that leads students, teachers, and schools to all pull in the same direction. But, the solution offered by the department falls short, offering disjointed rather than thoughtful transitions. We urge the department and school chiefs to work together to meet the unique challenges — and opportunities — posed by this transition and ensure that students and teachers get the support they need.