NY Lawmakers Aim to Delay Teacher Tests

04.28.14 | FL News Team

 A much-discussed new state test for would-be teachers will be in the Albany spotlight this week, with many observers pulling for the video-based assessment to be delayed as a certification requirement.
As of May 1, teachers-in-training cannot receive initial state certification unless they pass the new assessment. But many critics have insisted that college education programs did not have enough time to prepare students for the intense exam.
The state Board of Regents, which sets education policy, is supposed to consider an undefined "safety net" of options for students who fail the test when it meets Monday and Tuesday. But the state Assembly committees on higher education and education are holding a public hearing on the assessment Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., with several lawmakers saying they will act to delay the testing requirement if the Regents don't.
Bills in the state Assembly and Senate would postpone the use of the test as a certification requirement until July 2015.
"We are hopeful we will be able to pass this legislation and have it signed before the end of May," said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, a member of the higher education committee. "This way, students will not be hurt by the May 1 deadline."
The new exam, known as the edTPA for "education teacher performance assessment," is supposed to serve as a bar-like exam that will raise standards for the teaching profession. It requires video of student-teachers preparing, explaining and carrying out lesson plans in classrooms. There are also extensive written questions tied to the Common Core learning standards.
The edTPA was developed by Stanford University and is being used by 35 states. Only New York and Washington made it an immediate requirement for certification.
College education officials say they have struggled to quickly prepare students for the exam as state requirements were not completed until last year. "Would we like more time to prepare? Absolutely," said Ruth Zealand, undergraduate education chair for the College of New Rochelle. Zealand said the college set up "boot camps" to train students for the exam and also provided video training. The college has dealt with common concerns such as getting permission from parents for their children to be in the videos, working with classroom teachers (who often have to video their student teachers), and mastering such technical issues as getting clear audio.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, wrote a letter last month to the Regents asking for the exam to be delayed or removed as a certification requirement. It was signed by 54 other lawmakers.
Paulin said she spoke recently with Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who said the Regents might consider a grading curve so the percentage of students who get certified will not fall.
Tom Pinto of Eastchester, whose son is an education major at the College at Brockport, said a grading curve is a "non-starter" because it would make a mockery of the testing process and would not acknowledge that the state botched the introduction of the exam.