NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer delivered a blunt warning to the State Board of Education today: “Take a stand in favor of doing evaluation the right way, before it collapses under its own weight because we insisted on doing it the fast way.”
To underscore the point, Steinhauer hand-delivered 1,037 letters from concerned educators and parents to a board hearing in Trenton. The letters, which detail problems ranging from the overuse of standardized tests to the bungled implementation of the new evaluation system and the Common Core State Standards, were gathered online over the past several weeks.
“These letters were submitted as evidence that the New Jersey Department of Education is rushing to do too many things at once and is failing to do any of them well,” said Steinhauer. NJEA is calling on the Department of Education to slow down implementation of the new testing and evaluation systems in order to fix significant flaws and ensure that they work appropriately.
Steinhauer, Vice President Marie Blistan and Secretary-Treasurer Sean M. Spiller were joined by nearly three dozen NJEA members at the hearing, where board members heard story after story about the poor implementation and harmful consequences of the new evaluation system and the standardized testing connected to it.
Steinhauer used his testimony to reiterate NJEA’s longstanding support for well-designed, high-quality evaluation, but told the board, “We are very concerned about how the evaluation system and the related PARCC exams are being implemented in New Jersey. If we don’t take the time and put in the work to get them right, they will fail badly.”
Blistan and Spiller both shared powerful excerpts from the letters submitted, making sure that board members heard the voices of educators who could not attend. Many of the NJEA members who attended the meeting shared their own stories of frustration and disillusionment with misguided testing and evaluation policies that are harming their students and schools.
Steinhauer concluded his remarks by telling board members, “There’s still time to right the ship. But time is running out. With new leadership at the Department, we have a golden opportunity to come together right now and chart a better course.
“We are ready to do that, and we’ve already reached out to make that happen. But we need your support as well. Please take a stand in favor of doing evaluation the right way, before it collapses under its own weight because we insisted on doing it the fast way,” Steinhauer warned.