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A moratorium on the stakes associated with Common Core assessments

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American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has called for a moratorium on the stakes associated with Common Core assessments until the standards are properly implemented and field-tested.

Weingarten said a moratorium is necessary on the consequences of high-stakes tests to allow for midcourse corrections, as needed, in aligning the standards, curriculum, teacher training, instruction and assessments.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards, but some states and districts, including New York, are giving students assessments based on the standards before they have been implemented, without giving teachers the tools and resources they need to make these instructional shifts, and based on content students may have never seen, Weingarten said.

Weingarten made clear that this is not about stopping the tests, it’s about decoupling the tests from decisions that could unfairly hurt students, teachers and schools. Right now, nationally and in New York, test scores may be used to determine if a student advances or is held back, to designate a school’s performance, to evaluate educators and even to decide school closures.

“The fact that the changes are being made nationwide without anything close to adequate preparation is a failure of leadership, a sign of a broken accountability system and, worse, an abdication of our responsibility to kids, particularly poor kids,” said Weingarten. “These standards, which hold such potential to create deeper learning, are instead creating a serious backlash as officials seek to make them count before they make them work. They will either lead to a revolution in teaching and learning, or they will end up in the overflowing dustbin of abandoned reforms.”

“Can you imagine doctors being expected to perform a new medical procedure without being trained in it or provided the necessary instruments—simply being told there may be some material on a website? Of course not, but that’s what’s happening right now with the Common Core.”

Weingarten called for a moratorium on the stakes linked with Common Core assessments for students, teachers and schools until an implementation plan is developed in partnership with teachers, parents and community and is field-tested in classrooms. She said that during this transition period, states and districts must work with teachers to develop a high-quality curriculum and professional development, provide teachers and students with the time needed to try out new methods of teaching to the standards in their classrooms, commit financial resources to ensure its success, and engage parents and community. Then, the assessments should be field-tested to ensure that the curriculum, teaching and testing are actually aligned.

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