United Federation of Teachers Solidarity Statement

Support for Garfield HS teachers, Seattle, Washington

March 5, 2013

WHEREAS, since the passage of No Child Left Behind, American education has been increasingly debilitated by the excessive and inappropriate use of standardized exams; and

WHEREAS, at its 2012 convention, our national union, the American Federation of Teachers, declared that “The current test-and-punish accountability model has seriously damaged public education. We have lost vital parts of the curriculum because they are not subject to testing. Student learning time has been sacrificed in favor of testing and test preparation. Teachers have been led to focus their attention on the students closest to passing the tests, at the expense of developing every student’s full potential. All of this has stifled teachers’ ability to develop all students’ capacity to think deeply, critically and creatively, and has driven many talented teachers from classrooms that desperately need them. This loss has been especially pronounced in the schools and classrooms serving America’s neediest children and students with disabilities, adding further insult to the injury of poverty and other social challenges.”; and

WHEREAS, at its 2012 Representative Assembly, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) passed a resolution opposing any accountability system reliant on the use of a single assessment as a major part of educational decisions; and

WHEREAS, the use of standardized exams for high stakes decisions about the future of students, teachers and schools is contrary to the professional standards for educational and psychological testing developed by the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME); and

WHEREAS, the Measures of Academic Progress, a time-intensive assessment designed to provide teachers with data they may use to differentiate instruction, not to evaluate classroom teachers as has been unilaterally mandated by the Seattle Department of Education, in contradiction to the guidance and recommendations of its developers; and

WHEREAS, in taking a courageous stand against the excessive use of standardized exams and against the high stakes use of standardized exams, the teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle have brought much needed attention to an issue that is of the utmost concern to all American teachers; therefore; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that the UFT joins with NYSUT and the AFT in support of meaningful assessment aligned with curriculum instead of meaningless standardized testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the United Federation of Teachers joins with our national union, the AFT, in supporting the teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle in their stand against the excessive and inappropriate use of standardized exams, and against the current “test and punish” accountability system that misuses standardized exams for high stakes decisions on the future of students, teachers and schools.

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