The answer is fairly obvious; besides the Race to the Top money, New York State is heavily invested in these state assessments. It has a five-year $32 million contract with Pearson, which means these tests are going nowhere. Apparently, the teachers and students are headed in the same direction as well. This is New York State's War of Error, and it sadly is going to be as long a slog as the war that still drags on in Afghanistan, with a conclusion that will be way short of satisfying for all involved.
If you are wondering where all of this started, it began with George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind and has been exacerbated by Mr. Obama's Race to the Top. If every child is expected to learn, every child is expected to pass the tests. Unfortunately, for a teacher with a low performing class the likelihood of that happening is almost impossible. Therefore, his or her evaluation (and thus level of "success") will be directly affected by the questionable assessments. How many "talking pineapples" do we need to make it apparent that this is an ineffective way to evaluate teachers?
Teacher accountability is essential, and I am all in favor of clear, precise, and equitable ways to assess teacher performance that involve a combination of informal and formal observations, professional development, and instructional planning. As a school administrator for many years, I can walk into a classroom and know within five minutes whether or not a teacher is effective. I do not need to see standardized test scores and, in fact, in my experience, low tests scores have never reflected the quality of the teaching in a particular classroom. When I witness a dynamic classroom environment where the teacher is guiding the students who are actively involved and engaged, I know everything I need to know.
Conversely, teachers have to face the reality that these tests are not going away, nor is the public clamor to see their performance evaluations. They need to realize these truths, but I fear that this will sway many teachers to do the thing we educators (at least those who truly care) fear most: teach to the test. Make no mistake, this is already happening in schools all across the state. With the pressure of accountability tied to these abdominal test scores, districts everywhere are doing the unthinkable.