Archives for category: New York

Carol Burris and Biana Tanis take a close look at New York’s Common Core tests and find them deeply flawed. Burris is a high school principal on Long Island and Tanis is a public school parent and special education teacher in the Hudson Valley.

State officials celebrated paltry results: the passing rates on the reading test were flat and increased in math by 4.6%. But nearly 2/3 of the state’s children did not reach the state’s unreasonably high proficiency level. Testing experts and state officials knew in advance what the results would be. Why do they stubbornly cling to the outworn cliche that raising the bar improves achievement? We thought that idea was discredited by the abject failure of NCLB. If a run er can’t clear a four-foot bar, how will he clear a six-foot bar?

Burris and Tanis show that certain groups, such as students with disabilities and English language learners, did very poorly. The content was far beyond their capacity. Fifty percent of the questions were released, and the authors show that many were age-inappropriate. What is the logic of giving 7th grade content to a 5th grader?

Here is an example:

“In addition to passage difficulty, the questions themselves required skills out of the reach for many young children. Consider this fourth-grade question on the test based on a passage from Pecos Bill Captures the Pacing White Mustang by Leigh Peck.

Why is Pecos Bill’s conversation with the cowboys important to the story?

A) It predicts the action in paragraph 4

B) It predicts the action in paragraph 5

C) It predicts the choice in paragraph 10

D) It predicts the choice in paragraph 11

Visualize the steps required to answer this question. First, 9-year-olds must flip back to the conversation and re-read it. Next, they must go back to the question and then flip back to paragraph 4. Complete this step 3 more times, each time remembering the original question. In addition to remembering the content of each paragraph, they must also be mindful that choices A and B refer to the action in the related paragraph, while choices C and D refer to a choice. Similar questions were on the third-grade test. Questions such as these are better suited to assess one’s ability to put together a chair from Ikea than they are to assess student’s understanding of what they read.”

Is it any wonder that parent anger towards the Common Core is growing in New York? This is a blue state; these parents are outraged by a state policy that labels their children as failures based on tests that are developmentally inappropriate. Why does the state want 2/3 of its children to be branded as failures? If this is what Common Core means, it will have a short life indeed. It may be fine for the kids bound for the Ivy League, but most kids are not. We need common sense more than Common Core.

In New York State, a small group of Democrats in the State Senate flipped their allegiance to the Republicans, giving Republicans control of the Senate. Republican control of the Senate worked to the benefit of the 1%.

One of that group was State Senator Jeffrey Klein. He just won the endorsement of the New York State United Teachers.

This is bizarre. According to this blogger, Perdido Street School, Klein is pro-voucher and pro-charter. He supports evaluating educators by test scores.

Can anyone associated with NYSUT explain this endorsement?

As the New York Daily News put it, today was not a good day for Governor Cuomo.

First the New York State United Teachers decided not to endorse him or anyone else.

Then the Public Employees Federation endorsed Zephyr Teachout.

He still has $35 million in campaign funds, but a steamroller he is not.

He hoped to be re-elected with such impressive numbers that he would be seen as Presidential timbre. He forgot that New York Democrats are not traditionally a pro-business, pro-Wall Street, anti-labor, anti-public school party. He lined up the money brokers and forgot his party’s base. Bad idea.

New York released its 2014 test scores today. The proportion of students reaching “proficiency” English was flat, and there was a small increase in math. Unfortunately, in both subjects, a large majority of students in grades 3-8 were “not proficient.” As I have pointed out in earlier blogs, the Common Core tests in New York and elsewhere decided to adopt a very high bar for their definition of “proficiency.” It is aligned with the definition of proficiency in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which represents solid academic achievement, NOT “grade level.” There is only one state—Massachusetts–where as many as 50% of students have managed to reach proficiency on the NAEP. With such a high bar, the state knew that most students would be branded as failures, based on a grueling standardized test. With 64-68% of students “failing,” these results are likely to fuel the New York parent revolt against high-stakes testing. What a terrible burden to place on young children.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 14, 2014
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) http://www.nysape.org

Parents and Educators Reject the Tests, the Scores and Corporate Agenda of NYSED & Pearson

Today Commissioner John King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch released the test scores of the state exams in 3-8th grades, showing that, more than 68% of the state’s students were judged not proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and more than 64% not proficient in Math. The overall results were largely flat with little to no change year over year with only small gains and drops for specific demographic groups.

Members of the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator advocacy groups, challenge the quality of the tests, the accuracy of the scores, and the motives of those who have manufactured these results. This past spring, NYSAPE estimated that at least 44,000 students had opted out of the state exams; today the Commissioner admitted that the number was as large as 60,000 compared to 10,000 in 2013.

As the growing problems with New York’s excessive and speculative testing reforms are exposed, parents across the state are outraged and calling for an overhaul at the state education department.

Lisa Rudley, Westchester county public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “Though Commissioner John King assured us that the new Common Core state tests would be a much better reflection of the skills students will need for ‘college and career’ success with the release of 50% of the questions last week, we learned what educators were forbidden by law from telling us: these were flawed tests, riddled with vague questions, inappropriate reading passages and multiple product placements. In its new Pearson contract signed amidst a financial crisis, NYSED doubled annual spending on testing and even worse, eliminated the transparency of the previous McGraw-Hill contract. Where is the management from NYSED and the oversight from the Board of Regents?”

Dr. Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School on Long Island said, “Considering the more than $28 million taxpayer investment in curriculum modules, this paltry increase in scores is one more indication of the ineffectiveness of State Education Department’s reforms, and the inappropriateness of the Common Core tests. Parents should take heart in knowing that the ‘college readiness‘ proficiency scores have no connection with reality. My high school and many other well-resourced high schools in NY have proven records of preparing students for college success that are no way connected to the state’s newest measure of proficiency.”

Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “If the released questions are this bad, you have to wonder how much worse the other half were. I have no confidence in the results released today. Parents now demand new leadership for a Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education who repeatedly fail to adequately respond to their legitimate concerns.”

“Many of the multiple choice questions required up to five steps and compelled 8 year olds to flip back forth between numbered paragraphs. The question becomes more of a measure of attention, memory and test taking skills rather than their deep understanding of a text. The commissioner has stated that education should not be about test prep, but these tricky assessments all but ensure that test prep will continue — to the detriment of real learning,” said Bianca Tanis, an Ulster County public school parent and special education teacher.

Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Opt Out said, “This past spring, 55,000 to 60,000 New York State students were spared from yet another year of test scores that were designed to show a large majority of failures. The number of opt outs will steadily grow until NYSED takes the concerns of parents seriously and makes the necessary changes to our children’s excessive high stakes testing regimen. High stakes testing and the Regents Agenda have hijacked our classrooms, and every day more parents become aware of how they too must protect their children from these harmful policies.”

Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent and educator notes, “Until the NYSED acknowledges that these developmentally inappropriate exams take time away from instruction, cost taxpayers, and set kids up to fail — in an attempt to perpetuate the false narrative of Governor Cuomo’s ‘death penalty’ for schools — parents will continue to refuse to allow their children to participate in these state tests.”

“The test content was not sufficiently disclosed and there was no quality assurance or mechanism for parents or educators to obtain valuable feedback. The bottom line is that students are getting hurt, money is being wasted and precious time is being spent on high stakes testing at the expense of more meaningful instruction. The system surrounding the NYS testing program is dysfunctional to say the least,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

Fred Smith, a test specialist formerly with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) stated, “The State Education Department took a half-step by releasing 50 percent of the English and math questions from the April 2014 exams. It was a half-step not just because it falls halfway short of full disclosure, but also because SED fails to provide data at its disposal that would enable objective evaluation of the questions, each of which is a brick in the wall of the testing program.”

“Like many other parents, I see how flawed the tests are as a measure of learning, and fear for all those millions of students who are told, unjustly, and at an early age, they aren’t ‘college and career ready’. These tests which ask our children to prove the existence of Big Foot and expose them to numerous and inappropriate product placements are the furthest from rigor one could imagine. I question the motives of the bureaucrats and the testing companies who are forcing these inappropriate exams onto our children – to try to prove to the public that our schools and children are failing, so they can better pursue their privatization agenda and the outsourcing of education into corporate hands,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.

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The New York State United Teachers decided not to endorse Andrew Cuomo for re-election, nor anyone else.

NYSUT has 600,000 members and a strong get-out-the-vote operation. It did endorse the Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“Those who earn endorsements are friends of public education and labor,” NYSUT president Karen Magee said in a statement. “Over the last two years, they earned our support by advocating effectively for our public schools, colleges and health care institutions; listening intently to the concerns and aspirations of our members, and voting consistently the right way.”

Cuomo is a staunch advocate of privately-managed charter schools and has received large campaign contributions from the hedge fund industry, which supports charter schools. 3% of the state’s children are enrolled in charter schools. Cuomo is also a firm advocate for evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, although he gives no sign of knowing that it has been tried and failed in many other places.

Governor Cuomo oftens complains about spending on public schools. But he fails to mention budget cuts and inequitable funding. A new report by the Alliance for Quality Education lays out the facts and their consequences for Néw York’s public schools.

Good report /summary below of funding gap and education cuts since CFE.

New York state’s public schools have suffered devastating budget cuts over the past several years. As is so often the case around the country, the burden is overwhelmingly placed on the students and communities who most need support.

The details of this tragedy are described in a new report released today by the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) in partnership with Opportunity Action. “Billions Behind: New York State Continues to Violate Students’ Constitutional Rights” does more than illuminate the problem: it also lays out solutions to New York’s school funding crisis.

There is a way to more equitably distribute school aid across the state — it’s a formula called Foundation Aid — but seven years after its unveiling, policymakers in Albany have still refused to fully fund it.

Quality education is a constitutional right for every New York student, a right denied to many children thanks to these budget cuts. As AQE’s Zakiyah Ansari put it, “This report doesn’t just show a funding problem, it’s also a civil rights problem.”

In light of this week’s announcement of a $6.2 billion state budget surplus heading into next year, now is the time to close the funding gap and ensure an opportunity to learn for each and every New York student.

Read the full report here.

Read the press release here.

Opportunity Action
1680 Duke Street | Alexandria, VA 22314
http://www.opportunityaction.org | 703-838-6722

__._,_.___

Join educators and community leaders for an important one day Summer Institute to provide an alternate pathway to the test based accountability system. On August 21st, leaders will convene at Dowling College from 8:30am- 3:00 pm to explore the work of Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves (Professional Capital) as they work collaboratively to build the social capital needed to confront the de-professionalization of teaching.

For more information please contact David Gamberg at: dgamberg@southoldufsd.com, or go to the following website for details:

http://www.schoolleadership20.com/events/developing-an-alternative-path-for-school-improvement-summer-inst

AFT President Randi Weingarten Calls for Full Release of Test Questions

WASHINGTON— Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten following news that a portion of the Common Core-aligned testing questions were released in New York as teachers and community members protest the overuse of testing in Albany.

“Releasing just some of the Common Core-aligned test questions in the middle of the summer doesn’t cut it. Parents and educators repeatedly have called for the full release of the questions—even taking our call to the Pearson shareholder meeting this past spring.

“We renew our call for the full release of the test questions—in a timely manner and in a way that is most useful for parents, educators and kids—not in the middle of the summer and right before the test results are announced.”

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Fred Smith worked for many years at the New York City Board of Education as a testing analyst. For all the parent groups who are upset by the over-testing of their children and concerned about the quality of the tests, Smith has become the go-to guy, who can be counted on to give a tough review of what the testing corporations are doing and what they should be doing.

 

In this post, Smith takes the New York State Education Department to task for withholding the technical report on the 2013 state tests. Just this week, responding to public outrage about its lack of transparency, the Department released 50% of the questions on the April 2014 tests. Until 2011, the SED released the entire exam with questions and answers. But no more. Since Pearson became the state’s testing agency, the state has been parsimonious in releasing questions and also technical data needed to understand the validity of the tests and the items.

 

The technical report for the 2013 tests should have been released in December 2013, but was not made public until July 2014. This is ridiculous. The information was available in Albany but was kept under wraps.

 

Smith says it is time for transparency and truth in testing. The public cannot trust the tests without seeing it and without allowing experienced experts like Smith to review its technical quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although Peter Greene teaches in Pennsylvania, he decided to review New York state’s curriculum guides about the Common Core standards. He pulls them apart and shows that they tell teachers to do what they were already doing, or they make demands that have no evidence to support them.

It is a hilarious deconstruction of engageNY, the state education department’s prized curriculum.

Greene concludes:

“So there you have it, in brief. EngageNY’s interpretation of the Core– one part useless foolishness, one part stuff that isn’t actually in the CCSS, and one part pedagogy that any non-brain-dead teacher was already using. Thank goodness the CCSS are here to save us.”

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