In a remarkable reversal, the member of the New York State Board of Regents from Long Island switched his position on the state’s teacher evaluation plan. Roger Tilles told teachers in Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York, that he will no longer support the test-based evaluation system rammed through the legislature during budget deliberations last spring.

Tilles said to the crowd:

Roger Tilles of Great Neck, now in his 11th year on the state Board of Regents, told a teachers conference in Port Jefferson that Albany faces the risk of growing opposition to the job evaluation system unless it reverses course.
“I oppose the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers and principals,” Tilles said, drawing applause from about 400 teachers and school administrators at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School in Port Jefferson. “Not admitting a mistake is making a bigger mistake.”

Last June, Tilles voted to endorse the hastily passed educator evaluation plan cobbled together by the Cuomo administration and passed into law by the legislature.

His change of vote means that seven of the 17 Regents oppose the plan. If two more Regents change their votes, a majority will vote down the plan, sending it back to the legislature for a different approach, one that has research and evidence to support it.

The current wave of parental opt outs, most recently 20% of all eligible test-takers in the state, was spurred by the coupling of test scores and educator evaluations. Parents understood that making the tests so consequential would mean more test prep and less time for the studies and activities that children enjoy in school. Parent leaders from groups like Long Island Opt Out and New York State Allies for Public Education have said clearly that they want test scores separated from teacher evaluations.