The union has told the public that its members will “boycott a series of unnecessary assessment tests” that would result in “the loss of valuable instruction time spent prepping students for the tests instead of teaching.”
But union leaders are telling their members something quite different (namely, that the boycott is about protecting teachers' jobs, not about classroom teaching time for students). According to Lehrer and Hicks:
In a February letter to UTLA’s members its president struck a very different theme, clearly not about “education being a top priority.” He told teachers that the boycott was really about “everyone’s health care, class sizes” and that “jobs are on the line…now is the time for unity among members—not division.” Not surprisingly, the claimed pedagogic problems with the assessment tests aren’t mentioned in his teacher-directed communication.
Lehrer and Hicks go on to say that these tests have proven to serve valuable diagnostic purposes and have been shown to help children learn:
In reality, the “periodic assessment” tests which UTLA finds so objectionable facilitate teaching the curriculum that these teachers are hired to instruct. The tests’ goal, as the [Los Angeles] Times has written, is “to give teachers insight into what students need to learn while there remains time in the current school year to adjust instruction.”
A statistical analysis by the [Los Angeles Unified School District] has found that the assessments “contribute to higher student achievement.” The District’s study found that, especially at the elementary level, students who take the full battery of four assessment tests during the course of the year are “much more likely to score proficient or advanced on the California Standards Test than similar students that either do not take the tests or take them only once or twice.”
The tests are designed to provide individualized data to the teachers, within 48 hours of having been administered, of what each student has mastered in English, language arts, math, science and social studies---core academic subjects. If teachers “prep” students for this test they are teaching the curriculum that it is their job to deliver, not teaching obscure skills that are only relevant to a test.