This resolution should be a model for the AFT and the NEA and for their affiliates. Teachers do not oppose testing; they oppose the misuse of testing. Teachers do not oppose accountability; they oppose accountability that is contrary to research and experience, whose purpose is not to improve instruction but to punish teachers for low scores.

The Rochester (NY) Teachers Association adopted the following resolution, unanimously:


WHEREAS, the volume of mandated summative standardized testing to which students are subjected in the Rochester City School District (“RCSD”) has increased many times over in recent years, and

WHEREAS, a very large amount of learning time is lost through the administration of such tests, while the results of such tests cannot be used for diagnostics or remediation or other educational purposes, and

WHEREAS, such testing generates results that are used for high-stakes decision-making regarding both students (e.g., grade promotion and graduation) and their teachers (e.g., evaluation scores, tenure, retention), and

WHEREAS, the attachment of high stakes to test results necessarily makes such tests the focus of classes in schools, and

WHEREAS, such tests fail to measure the most important qualities schools should seek to develop in students, such as relationship, character, ethical development, critical thinking, persistence, imagination, insight, and collaboration, amongst others, and

WHEREAS, as a result, many students who in fact develop these valued but unmeasured qualities, but who have extreme difficulty with standardized and other paper-and-pencil tests, experience these tests as stressful to the point of abuse, and

WHEREAS, the increasing focus on such testing thus causes severe distortions of schooling, both inflicting trauma on many students and changing schools into test-prep factories that prepare students for little but further testing and lives of resigned obedience, and

WHEREAS, the commitment of substantial resources to testing and evaluation diverts those same resources from the educational needs of students, including the arts, music, other non-tested subjects, the challenges of special needs students and English language learners, moral and ethical development, social and emotional development, internships, practical and workplace skills, project-based, authentic learning opportunities, attention to contemporary cultural and social concerns, deep exploration of subject matters, and many others, and

WHEREAS, such commitment of resources also diverts resources from the professional development needs of teachers, who wish to align their skills to the real needs of students, and

WHEREAS, parents and guardians frequently express dismay that students are subjected to so much testing, and they express confusion about the rights and obligations of children and families
with respect to such testing, as well as about the rationales for the various tests, and

WHEREAS, parents, students, families, teachers, and some districts throughout the state have expressed forceful opposition to the current testing regime, and

WHEREAS, the Rochester Teachers Association (“RTA”) wishes to clarify its stance on the various issues involved with the current testing regime,

RESOLVED, that the Rochester Teachers Association declares its opposition to the use of state- or federal-mandated standardized tests for the purposes of making grade promotion, graduation, or other high-stakes decisions regarding students or teachers, and

RESOLVED, that RTA supports the right of parents and guardians to choose to absent their children from any or all state- or federal-mandated testing, and supports the right of teachers to discuss freely with parents and guardians their rights and responsibilities with respect to such testing, all without any negative consequences from RCSD, and

RESOLVED, that RTA will, to the best of its ability, support and protect members and others who may suffer any negative consequences as a result of speaking about their views of such testing or about the rights and obligations of parents and guardians with respect to such testing, and

RESOLVED, that RTA calls upon the RCSD Board of Education to direct RCSD administration to provide parents and guardians, in a timely manner, with an explanation of the rationale, intended use, and costs associated with any state- or federal-mandated tests intended to be administered to students, and to provide an explanation, in a timely manner, of the steps parents and guardians would need to take should they choose to absent their children from such testing, and

RESOLVED, that RTA calls upon the RCSD Board of Education to make a determination as to whether such testing operates in the best interests of RCSD students, and, if they conclude that it does not, to give serious consideration to deciding not to administer any or all such tests, in consultation and alliance with other districts throughout Monroe County and the State of New York, and

RESOLVED, that RTA declares its support for the professional freedom of teachers to design, administer, score and use such testing as they deem necessary or appropriate for students in their classes, in their sole professional judgment, and

RESOLVED, that RTA appoint an Ad Hoc Committee to develop proposals for new, research-based, educationally sound measures to be used for accountability purposes, that will support, rather than undermine, the RCSD’s educational mission, and that such committee shall be free to work independently or in collaboration with RCSD to such ends, and

RESOLVED, that RTA, through its officers and staff, communicate these resolutions to anyone to whom they deem it fit and proper.

Adopted unanimously on March 17, 2015 by RTA Representative Assembly