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Nov. 20, 2014

UUP blasts college-specific data released by SED
on teacher certification exams

ALBANY – United University Professions today criticized the state Education Department for making public college-specific data on state teacher certification exams, saying the data aren’t valid indicators of student performance and teacher education programs.

“Presenting this college-specific data publically and implying it as being conclusive is misleading,” said UUP President Frederick E. Kowal. “This is a wrongheaded, and in the end, a destructive depiction of the high quality of our students and our teaching programs.”

UUP Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler said it was unnecessary for SED to publicly release the information now.

“We are all for transparency,” said Dangler, a member of the state-created edTPA Task Force. “But releasing this level of data now for exams that teacher education professionals statewide have expressed strong concerns about it is troubling. “Teacher educators are pleading for more accurate and legitimate student assessments. These new exams are a mess. They are not ready for prime time.”

UUP submitted a July 30 Freedom of Information request to SED for the data for use and study on the edTPA Task Force, created by the state Board of Regents in April to review and refine the edTPA student teacher performance assessment. The union never requested that the data be made public, and filed a FOIL request for the information after SED refused to make it available to teacher education professionals who were supposed to be addressing problems with the edTPA.

A Nov. 18 SED memo said that the department was “obligated” due to UUP’s FOIL request to make “certification exam pass rate data and candidate placement rate data public now.” UUP’s FOIL request did not ask for candidate placement data. The FOIL request did not require SED to publicly release any data.

“We wanted this data so we could analyze fairly how this program is working,” said Kowal. “We filed a FOIL request for the information because SED refused us access to it.”

Kowal said UUP is demanding the creation of an independent body to study the implementation and operation of the new exams and assessment programs.

SED’s botched, rushed implementation of its new teacher certification requirements are the problem, not students and teacher education programs.

“The issue here isn’t our teacher education programs; it’s the certification assessments and the way SED has implemented them,” Kowal said. “This attempt to connect these scores to the future success of teachers and our teaching programs is misguided and unfair.”

The union has consistently maintained that the edTPA was introduced without adequate support and input from teacher educators. SED agreed to the task force’s creation in April, after state legislators introduced measures that would have delayed implementation of the edTPA until July 2015.

Kowal also criticized SED for its “biased assessment” of the data. Earlier this year, SED used portions of the data to trumpet the success of the edTPA assessment. The department’s latest data provide a completely different picture.

“Previously, they were making the argument that the pass rate was higher and the edTPA was working,” said Kowal. “Their argument is inconsistent and invalid.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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