AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

ACCELERATE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IMPLEMENTATION, BUT PUT A BRAKE ON THE HIGH-STAKES CONSEQUENCES OF ASSESSMENT

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers and its member unions believe that every child—regardless of neighborhood, race, cultural heritage or economic circumstances—should have the academic content, problem-solving, critical-thinking and teamwork skills they need to succeed in a 21st-century economy and as global citizens; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are more focused, call for deeper levels of cognitive understanding, and hold higher expectations for our students than most previous standards; and

WHEREAS, without an effort such as the CCSS, students' access to the knowledge and skills they need to be successful will continue to be inequitably distributed; and

WHEREAS, to date, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts; and

WHEREAS, in 2011, the AFT adopted recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee on Standards Rollout to initiate an action plan so that all levels of the union, and our partners at the local, state and national levels, would be equipped to ensure that the CCSS are implemented as part of a comprehensive standards-based system that benefits the students for whom they were designed; and

WHEREAS, the AFT knows that for the CCSS to improve education in our schools, the implementation of the standards must include serious attention and support dedicated to the development of curriculum options, meaningful professional development, instructional materials, the necessary time for teachers to adapt instruction to the new standards, and coherent alignment with assessments that measure what students are expected to learn to be college- and career-ready; and

WHEREAS, implementation across states and districts has been uneven, and too many officials, by design or default, have pushed past the Common Core standards and moved right to standardized testing; and

WHEREAS, the AFT believes deeply that the current test- and test preparation-obsessed approach to education has been harmful in many ways, including narrowing the curriculum; limiting the time for teachers to engage children in project-based learning and other instructional methods that can build critical thinking and analytic skills; and increasing stress on students, parents and teachers; and

WHEREAS, the AFT believes that while standardized assessments have a legitimate place in education to inform instruction using aligned curriculum, and for comparisons among states, districts and schools, they are not always an adequate and reliable measure of student learning and educator effectiveness; and

WHEREAS, the AFT believes that standardized assessments should be one measure of student understanding and growth to help teachers guide and plan instruction, and should not be used inappropriately—in ways that distort instruction and prevent students from developing the thinking and analytical skills enabled by good career- and college-ready standards; and

WHEREAS, the current accountability system emphasizes teacher accountability for student achievement outcomes without acknowledging that student success is a shared responsibility; and

WHEREAS, some states are executing assessments with consequences for students, teachers and schools before ensuring curricular resources are in place, staff development has been conducted, standards-aligned instruction has commenced, or the assessments have been field-tested; and

WHEREAS, the AFT called for a moratorium on the consequences associated with standardized tests to ensure that teachers, schools and districts are given the necessary supports, time and resources to implement the standards through a well-designed plan informed by educators' involvement; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Secretary of Education in response announced that states could ask that student assessment data not be used in educator evaluations to impact personnel decisions until 2016-17:

RESOLVED, that the AFT will assist state federations and local affiliates to advocate for state action on the waiver for the postponement of the use of student assessment data in education evaluations that will inform personnel decisions until 2016-17, in addition to any other state actions that would allow districts to implement the standards in an environment of support and feedback for improved instructional practices; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will assist state federations and locals to work in collaboration with school districts to develop clear tasks and timelines that include putting the crucial elements of Common Core implementation in place; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to advocate for the development and distribution of aligned curriculum; professional development based on the curriculum; teaching materials; and student intervention systems, in addition to the assessments; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will use its expertise, advocacy and influence to ensure that assessments being developed are of high quality, aligned, appropriate, timely, and never used excessively or punitively; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate with the two assessment consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that teachers and other educators are involved with continued field-testing, policy developments, and all the way through to official implementation of these new assessments; and

RESOLVED, that despite our belief that well-funded investments first should have been made to provide necessary instructional supports, the AFT will work to ensure the new assessments are valid, reliable and aligned with the standards and curriculum and deeper learning they are intended to measure; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support state federations, local affiliates and community partners in advocating with federal, state, and local policymakers and elected officials to take all measures to decouple standardized tests from decisions that could unfairly hurt students, teachers and schools until the CCSS are fully implemented.


(2013)