Contact: Frank Wells (562) 478-1375 or Sandra Jackson (916) 325-1550
Sacramento — California Teachers Association members and staff provided important testimony in today’s California Assembly Education Committee Hearing on the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program. Although recent legislation resolved issues that might have prevented California eligibility for the grant application, many issues still remain about other major changes either applying for or receiving the federal funds might have on students and schools. Today’s hearing focused on Data Systems to Support Instruction, and Standards and Assessments.
“Education reform shouldn’t be a race; it deserves serious attention that will actually help kids and improve student achievement,” said CTA President David A. Sanchez. “Teachers welcome accountability. They want the whole system accountable as long as multiple and meaningful measures are used. We want to ensure that new legislation doesn’t reinforce the one-size-fits-all, single-test-score approach that has been coming from Washington for several years now under No Child Left Behind.” Sanchez added that the hearing and making changes to education policy in California are premature because the Race to the Top guidelines and regulations have not been finalized yet.
San Jose area teacher Cynthia Cooper testified in opposition to even greater emphasis on test scores in determining what makes an effective teacher. Cooper, who teaches in the Oak Grove School District, reminded committee members that effective teaching is largely about skill sets and training, as well as actual classroom practices. “These new proposals are centered on a convenient bureaucratic strategy with very serious limitations that will actually result in nullifying 10 years of work to create the architecture of teaching and learning in this state,” said Cooper. She went on to provide examples of how student assessment based upon multiple measures instead of a narrow test, as well as an effective use of data systems are used as part of both teacher evaluation and improving student and teacher achievement in her own school district.
CTA Legislative advocate Isabelle Garcia warned that California needs adequate time to review any proposed national standards and that a 2010 deadline in the Race to the Top guidelines is arbitrary and inappropriate. In addition to raising several major concerns about the standards adoption timelines and process, Garcia reminded lawmakers of the correlation between adequate funding and any meaningful assessment results, especially in light of over $17 billion in program cuts, course eliminations, and layoffs state schools have endured over the last two years. “Regardless of the impact of implementing the standards and assessment proposed mandates in Race to the Top, California must properly and adequately fund its public schools to increase the quality and educational outcomes of students, schools, and districts.” More of CTA’s concerns and research about Race to the Top are posted at www.cta.org.