Recently, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon issued a press release calling for the repeal of the state teacher evaluation system, which links teacher evaluation to state test scores of their students.

Almost immediately, the State Assembly (in Democratic control) announced that it was writing a bill to revise test-based teacher evaluation. The Assembly bill passed overwhelmingly, but it was a sham. Instead of repealing test-based teacher evaluation, it said that districts could use the test of their own choosing to evaluate teachers, so long as the test was approved by the State Commissioner. That does not repeal test-based evaluation, and critics warned that there might be “double-testing,” once for the state tests, another time for local tests.

Now that the bill has moved to the State Senate, the Republican leader John Flanagan has said he will slow down movement on the bill because no one wants “double testing.”

In the one instance where the state’s teacher evaluation system was brought to a court, by lawyer Bruce Lederman on behalf of his superstar wife, Sheri, a fourth grade teacher on Long Island, the judge said that the system was “arbitrary” and “capricious” and threw out her rating.

When the system was first adopted, Governor Cuomo wanted 50% of a teacher’s rating to be based on student scores. In 2013-2014, when the first results of the rating system were reported, 97% of the state’s teachers were rated either “effective” or “highly effective.” In New York City, in the first year, 93% were rated in the two highest categories. By 2016-2017, 97% of New York City’s teachers were also rated either “effective” or “highly effective.”

Chalkbeat reviewed the controversy over the state teacher evaluation system and wrote:

The battle lines were redrawn again in 2015, when state lawmakers — led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — sought to make it tougher for teachers to earn high ratings. The new system allowed for as much as half of a teacher’s rating to be based on test scores.

But that plan was never fully implemented. Following a wave of protests in which one in five New York families boycotted the state tests, officials backed away from several controversial education policies.

In late 2015, the state’s Board of Regents approved a four-year freeze on the most contentious aspect of the teacher evaluation law: the use of students’ scores on the grades 3-8 math and English tests. They later allowed districts to avoid having independent observers rate teachers — another unpopular provision in the original law.

In short, the Opt Out movement caused the state to call a moratorium even as Governor Cuomo and the legislature were demanding tougher evaluations.

Given the fact that the test-based evaluation system has not worked (97% of teachers are doing just fine, thank you), given the fact that a full-blown court challenge presented as a class action is likely to get the whole system declared invalid, and given the fact that there is a growing teacher shortage, given the fact that the American Statistical Association declared “value-added” evaluation” inappropriate for individual teachers, why not repeal test-based evaluation altogether?

Let school districts decide how to evaluate the teachers they hire. Let them decide whether to adopt peer review, principal observations, or some combinations thereof.

The current system is useless and pointless. It does not evaluate teachers fairly. It is expensive. It attaches high stakes to tests for teachers. It has no research to support it.

When in doubt, throw it out!