Archives for category: New York

This story is behind a paywall, although some readers found a way around the paywall. It was written by staff writer Fred LeBrun. It accurately describes the revulsion that parents and educators feel toward Governor Cuomo’s mean-spirited plan to tie everyone to a stake made of standardized test scores. LeBrun also points out that the State Assembly, which appoints new Regents, might well flip the majority next spring by appointing two new Regents to join the board. Chancellor Merryl Tisch has been a steadfast ally of Governor Cuomo and his plan (which is based on a letter she wrote one of his aides last December, outlining the changes she supported, without consulting the other members of the board of Regents.) If the opt out movement continues to grow–and there is every reason to believe that it will–the Assembly may not re-appoint Tisch to the board, where she has been a member since 1996.

 

 

In the linked article, LeBrun writes that it could have been much worse. Cuomo’s “education tax credits” to cut the taxes of billionaires while creating back-door vouchers did not pass.

 

 

What the Legislature and governor did agree to during the Legislative session’s final days was to direct the State Education Department to assure that the deeply controversial standardized growth tests and individual questions in Cuomo’s plan are at least age and grade appropriate and more useful as teaching tools. Also, that teachers are no longer gagged from discussing the test questions once they’re made public, and that a teacher’s student growth score, critical to whether that teacher stays employed according to the Cuomo plan, must also consider a number of student characteristics such as special needs, English as a second language, and most importantly, poverty.

 

Common sense tweaks, but far too few to make much of a difference. The core remains rotten. The Cuomo plan needs to be scrapped for something that actually works and that’s fair to all.

 

That is not so farfetched as it might seem.

 

As the Cuomo plan reveals itself as unworkable, unuseful and publicly about as popular as a dead whale in the living room, increasingly the Legislature and governor are shunting off the overly complicated implementation — and blame — on the state Education Department and the state Board of Regents, the body that by law is supposed to set and govern state public education policy. Unequivocally, Regent Roger Tilles of Long Island last week told reporter Susan Arbetter that the Legislature and the governor have all along been stepping on the Regents’ toes over formulating teacher evaluations, and not a single one of the 17 Regents is in favor of the present student and plan so favored by the governor.

 

After recent personnel changes, the Regents are very quickly becoming radicalized over the evaluation plan, and the so-called ”reform” agenda that embraces it.

 

The balance of those stridently opposed to the governor’s plan is at present a strong minority, and by March, when the terms of Chancellor Tisch and another Regent are up, that could well become a majority.

 

Already the Board of Regents is beginning to show new energy. Last week, while reluctantly accepting the education department’s draft teacher evaluation regulations as mandated by the Cuomo plan, the Regents found wiggle room that clearly signals they want to turn this garbage scow around.

 

The Regents voted for granting four-month hardship waivers without aid penalties to school districts that feel they will not be ready with a teacher evaluation plan by the required Nov. 15 of this year. That takes it to March of next year, which realistically means not before the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. They also decided that yet-to-be created and approved alternative local tests will be acceptable instead of the state standardized tests to meet the Cuomo student growth requirement, and they voted to create their own study group to evaluate and assess the entirety of the current evaluation plan with an eye to changes.

 

What that study group comes up with will make a dandy justification for an Assembly package of bills to give us a reasonable evaluation plan.

 

Meanwhile, other major factors speak to dramatic change. Next week, MaryEllen Elias becomes our new state education commissioner. She fills the vacancy left by the largely useless John King. He and Tisch were the main architects and promoters of Cuomo’s draconian version of a Common Core based plan. Elias is a veteran educator who is certainly familiar with the issues facing New York. Let’s see what she can do….

 

 

Cuomo can thumb his nose at the Legislature and the education establishment with seemingly little consequence.

 

It’s another matter when he tries to jam his malarkey down the throats of livid parents and their anxious youngsters, also known as the electorate. Last year, 60,000 Opted Out. This year 200,000. On Long Island alone, 40 percent of the students who could take those tests didn’t. Opt Out is a political force with quickly developing muscle, reflecting deep public dissatisfaction.

 

No single issue has contributed more to the rapid and still sinking decline of Cuomo’s popularity than his boneheaded war with students, teachers and public schools generally, and there’s no end in sight. Legislature take note.

Tim Farley is principal of the Ichabod Crane Middle School in upstate New York.

He is also a member of the board of New York State Allies for Public Education, the leaders of Opt Out in New York.

And he has a great sense of humor and timing!

He told his eighth grade students that if they read 850 books this year, he would dance for them at the end of the school year. They read 869. Watch Tim Farley dazzle students, teachers, and parents!

Update! A few minutes ago, I posted that the budget lifted the charter cap by 100. There are differing reports; this one says there will be 180 new charters.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a deal on the budget that included major education issues.

The budget does not include the “education tax credit” for private and religious schools (vouchers), but does include $250 million for religious schools. That should satisfy Mr. Cuomo’s friends in the religious communities whom he courted.

The deal includes 180 new charter schools, 50 in Néw York City and 130 outside the city. That should please the hedge fund manager who gave millions to the Governor’s re-election campaign, while providng Eva Moskowitz plenty of room to grow her chain.

The deal extends mayoral control in NYC for only one year, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s request to make it permanent. That should remind the Mayor who is in charge.

The deal retains the tax cap on school districts. Regardless of their needs, they won’t be able to raise property taxes by more than 2%, unless they are able to win 60% approval by voters. It may be undemocratic, but it is popular, especially among GOP legislators.

It is amazing how much education policy is now being made during budget negotiations, with no educators in the room.

This is a list of the Regents of the State of New York. The majority want to maintain high-stakes testing to evaluate teachers.

 

Six of the 17 Regents voted to oppose high-stakes testing and to change the state’s way of evaluating teachers. These six want more attention to student performance, not defined as bubble tests, but student work in the school.

If your Regent voted to support high-stakes testing, please contact him or her to express your views.

 

The Regents who opposed Governor Cuomo’s high-stakes testing are:

 

Kathleen Cashin

 

Betty Rosa

 

Judith Chin

 

Judith Johnson

 

Catherine Collins

 

Beverly L. Ouderkirk

 

These Regents are profiles in courage. They based their decision on research and on their own experience as educators.

 

If you live in the district of one of the other Regents, you should contact them and let them know that their vote for high-stakes testing hurts students and teachers by placing too much emphasis on standardized tests. Urge them to pay attention to pedagogically sound practices, as the other six Regents did.

A blogger has posted part 1 of Néw York state’s Regents test in algebra. The test has been aligned with the Common Core. Students must pass this test to graduate high school.

How many of the questions could you answer? How many do you think the members if the Néw York Boardof Regents could answer? How many could members of the State Legislature answer? How many could the editorial writers of the nation answer? How many could Arne Duncan answer?

I wish all those who love tests like this would take it and publish their scores.

Complaints are pouring in about the New York Regents examination in algebra, which all students must pass in order to graduate. It is now aligned with the Common Core, so it is very “rigorous.” Most students know that they are likely to fail. There are many reports of students in tears, and teachers in despair. What will New York do about the clog in the pipeline? What if most students can’t pass the exam and can’t graduate? Will they remain in high school until they drop out? Ideas? Anyone?

 

The common theme shared by parents and teachers was that any test that children will likely fail that determines their future is abusive, and that when most children leave an exam in tears something is very wrong. And don’t forget that this incredibly flawed exam will also count toward teacher evaluation, thereby prejudicing and harming teachers as well.

At a heated meeting yesterday, the Néw York Board of Regents voted to approve changes to the teacher evaluation rules. The source of the contention was a harsh plan created by Governor Cuomo and jammed hastily into the state budget bill. Cuomo wants 50% of teachers’ evaluation to be based on state tests. It is payback for the failure of teachers to support his re-election last fall.

Recently a group of seven dissident Regents issued their own statement, proposing a year-long delay in implementation and increased focus on performance assessments.

At the meeting yesterday, the dissidents won some compromises–the main one being a four-month delay , which effectively pushes implementation off for a year.

But the seven dissidents who heroically defended students, teachers, and education, dropped to six as Regent Josephine Finn, a noneducator, joined the majority.

As I understand the details better, I will post them. From what I hear, the six dissident Regents are trying to craft a wise policy that will improve education, and they won significant compromises in the formula.

The majority clings to the vain hope that more testing equals better education. Call them the NCLB majority. Time is running out for their failed ideas.

Some 200,000 students–nearly 400,000 parents–refused the tests this past spring. Expect that number to grow as the Regents majority ignores the popular rejection of their failed policies.

Carol Burris writes of the terrible consequences that will follow implementation of Governor Cuomo’s teacher evaluation plan.

She urges support for the plan created by seven (of 17) dissident members of the Néw York Board of Regents. Almost all are experienced educators who have carefully reviewed research. Cuomo is not an educator and obviously paid no attention to research.

Two more Regents and the dissidents are a majority.

Lester Young of Brooklyn? Roger Tilles of Long Island?

Ari Hart is an Orthodox Jew who disapproves of the actions taken by the Jewish-dominated school board in East Ramapo, Néw York.

In that district, the majority of the populace is Orthodox Jews, whose children attend yeshivas. Most students in the public schools are black and Hispanic. The school board takes good care of the yeshivas but it shortchanges the public schools.

Today, the state assembly passed a bill to install a state financial monitor for the district, to protect children in public schools.

Ari Hart chastises his co-religionists.

He writes:

“The board has drastically increased the funding going to yeshivas, but it has cut public school classes and extracurricular activities, attempting to sell public school assets at below market prices to private yeshivas, and more. These ethically and at times legally dubious actions have been documented by everyone from newspapers like this one to the New York City Bar Association to the New York State Supreme Court.”

Hart writes
:

“As an Orthodox Jew, when I first learned about what was happening in East Ramapo and about the attitudes of the board, I was shocked and disgusted. The Talmud teaches, “The world endures only for the sake of the breath of school children.” The public actions of this school board over the years have been in flagrant violation of that and so many other Jewish values and teachings. The Torah we share demands over and over again we never trample the stranger, the immigrant and the poor — apt descriptions of many in the public school district. They have also caused a massive Chillul Hashem — desecration of God’s name. The leadership of the school board to date has grossly violated both American and Jewish values. This is not the way to use Jewish power in America.
Instead, we need to find a way to both advance our interests and needs while taking the needs of our fellow citizens into account; rather than just grabbing more and more slices of the pie and leaving those around us hungry, we work together to grow the pie so there is enough for all. This would be a moral use of Jewish power, using it to call out those who are acting unjustly, even when they are from our own community. That is why thousands and thousands of Jewish New Yorkers are lobbying their legislators to pass these bills, which will provide needed oversight. Ultimately, this is about those school children in East Ramapo, and it’s about the very legacy that Jewish New Yorkers will leave on this great state.”

Read more: http://forward.com/opinion/national/309145/in-east-ramapo-an-immoral-use-of-jewish-power/#ixzz3comkGOxQ

Faced with the highly unpopular law on teacher evaluations rushed through the Legislature by Governor Cuomo with minimal consideration or debate, seven members of the 17-member New York State Board of Regents issued a vigorous dissent. The law requires that 50% of teacher evaluations be based on test scores, a number that is not supported by research or experience. Unlike the Governor and the Legislature, these seven members of the Regents have demonstrated respect for research and concern for the consequences of this hastily-passed law on teachers, children, principals, schools, and communities. They are courageous, they are wise, and they are visionaries. They have shown the leadership that our society so desperately needs. All New Yorkers are in their debt.

I place these wise leaders on the blog honor roll.

The dissident Regents issued the following statement:

Position Paper Amendments
to Current APPR Proposed Regulations

BY SIGNATORIES BELOW JUNE 2, 2015

We. the undersigned, have been empowered by the Constitution of the State of New York and appointed by the New York State Legislature to serve as the policy makers and guardians of educational goals for the residents of New York State. As Regents, we are obligated to determine the best contemporary approaches to meeting the educational needs of the state’s three million P-12 students as well as all students enrolled in our post secondary schools and the entire community of participants who use and value our cultural institutions.

We hold ourselves accountable to the public for the trust they have in our ability to represent and educate them about the outcomes of our actions which requires that we engage in ongoing evaluations of our efforts. The results of our efforts must be transparent and invite public comment.

We recognize that we must strengthen the accountability systems intended to ensure our students benefit from the most effective teaching practices identified in research.

After extensive deliberation that included a review of research and information gained from listening tours, we have determined that the current proposed amendments to the APPR system are based on an incomplete and inadequate understanding of how to address the task of continuously improving our educational system.

Therefore, we have determined that the following amendments are essential, and thus required, in the proposed emergency regulations to remedy the current malfunctioning APPR system.

What we seek is a well thought out, comprehensive evaluation plan which sets the framework for establishing a sound professional learning community for educators. To that end we offer these carefully considered amendments to the emergency regulations.

I. Delay implementation of district APPR plans based on April 1, 2015 legislative action until September 1, 2016.

A system that has integrity, fidelity and reliability cannot be developed absent time to review research on best practices. We must have in place a process for evaluating the evaluation system. There is insufficient evidence to support using test measures that were never meant to be used to evaluate teacher performance.

We need a large scale study, that collects rigorous evidence for fairness and reliability and the results need to be published annually. The current system should not be simply repeated with a greater emphasis on a single test score. We do not understand and do not support the elimination of the instructional evidence that defines the teaching, learning, achievement process as an element of the observation process.

Revise the submission date. Allow all districts to submit by November 15, 2015 a letter of intent regarding how they will utilize the time to review/revise their current APPR Plan.

II. A. Base the teacher evaluation process on student standardized test scores, consistent with research; the scores will account for a maximum of no more than 20% on the matrix.

B. Base 80% of teacher evaluation on student performance, leaving the following options for local school districts to select from: keeping the current local measures generating new assessments with performance –driven student activities, (performance-assessments, portfolios, scientific experiments, research projects) utilizing options like NYC Measures of Student Learning, and corresponding student growth measures.

C. Base the teacher observation category on NYSUT and UFT’s scoring ranges using their rounding up process rather than the percentage process.

III. Base no more than 10% of the teacher observation score on the work of external/peer evaluators, an option to be decided at the local district level where the decisions as to what training is needed, will also be made.

IV. Develop weighting algorithms that accommodate the developmental stages for English Language Learners (ELL) and special needs (SWD) students. Testing of ELL students who have less than 3 years of English language instruction should be prohibited.

V. Establish a work group that includes respected experts and practitioners who are to be charged with constructing an accountability system that reflects research and identifies the most effective practices. In addition, the committee will be charged with identifying rubrics and a guide for assessing our progress annually against expected outcomes.

Our recommendations should allow flexibility which allows school systems to submit locally developed accountability plans that offer evidence of rigor, validity and a theory of action that defines the system.

VI. Establish a work group to analyze the elements of the Common Core Learning Standards and Assessments to determine levels of validity, reliability, rigor and appropriateness of the developmental aspiration levels embedded in the assessment items.

No one argues against the notion of a rigorous, fair accountability system. We disagree on the implied theory of action that frames its tenet such as firing educators instead of promoting a professional learning community that attracts and retains talented educators committed to ensuring our educational goals include preparing students to be contributing members committed to sustaining and improving the standards that represent a democratic society.

We find it important to note that researchers, who often represent opposing views about the characteristics that define effective teaching, do agree on the dangers of using the VAM student growth model to measure teacher effectiveness. They agree that effectiveness can depend on a number of variables that are not constant from school year to school year. Chetty, a professor at Harvard University, often quoted as the expert in the interpretation of VAM along with co-researchers Friedman & Rockoff, offers the following two cautions: “First, using VAM for high-stakes evaluation could lead to unproductive responses such as teaching to the test or cheating; to date, there is insufficient evidence to assess the importance of this concern. Second, other measures of teacher performance, such as principal evaluations, student ratings, or classroom observations, may ultimately prove to be better predictors of teachers’ long-term impacts on students than VAMs. While we have learned much about VAM through statistical research, further work is needed to understand how VAM estimates should (or should not) be combined with other metrics to identify and retain effective teachers.”i Linda Darling Hammond agrees, in a Phi Delta Kappan March 2012 article and cautions that “none of the assumptions for the use of VAM to measure teacher effectiveness are well supported by evidence.”ii

We recommend that while the system is under review we minimize the disruption to local school districts for the 2015/16 school year and allow for a continuation of approved plans in light of the phasing in of the amended regulations.

Last year, Vicki Phillips, Executive Director for the Gates Foundation, cautioned districts to move slowly in the rollout of an accountability system based on Common Core Systems and advised a two year moratorium before using the system for high stakes outcomes. Her cautions were endorsed by Bill Gates.

We, the undersigned, wish to reach a collaborative solution to the many issues before us, specifically at this moment, the revisions to APPR. However, as we struggle with the limitations of the new law, we also wish to state that we are unwilling to forsake the ethics we value, thus this list of amendments.

Kathleen Cashin

Judith Chin

Catherine Collins

*Josephine Finn

Judith Johnson

Beverly L. Ouderkirk

Betty A. Rosa

Regent Josephine Finn said: *”I support the intent of the position paper”

i Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Jonah Rockoff, “Discussion of the American Statistical Association’s Statement (2014) on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment,” May 2014, retrieved from:

http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/value_added.html. The American Statistical Association (ASA) concurs with Chetty et al. (2014): “It is unknown how full implementation of an accountability system incorporating test-based indicators, such as those derived from VAMs, will affect the actions and dispositions of teachers, principals and other educators. Perceptions of transparency, fairness and credibility will be crucial in determining the degree of success of the system as a whole in achieving its goals of improving the quality of teaching. Given the unpredictability of such complex interacting forces, it is difficult to anticipate how the education system as a whole will be affected and how the educator labor market will respond. We know from experience with other quality improvement undertakings that changes in evaluation strategy have unintended consequences. A decision to use VAMs for teacher evaluations might change the way the tests are viewed and lead to changes in the school environment. For example, more classroom time might be spent on test preparation and on specific content from the test at the exclusion of content that may lead to better long-term learning gains or motivation for students. Certain schools may be hard to staff if there is a perception that it is harder for teachers to achieve good VAM scores when working in them. Overreliance on VAM scores may foster a competitive environment, discouraging collaboration and efforts to improve the educational system as a whole. David Morganstein & Ron Wasserstein, “ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment,” Published with license by American Statistical Association, April 8 2014, published online November 7, 2014: http://amstat.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/2330443X.2014.956906. Bachman-Hicks, Kane and Staiger (2014), likewise admit, “we know very little about how the validity of the value-added estimates may change when they are put to high stakes use. All of the available studies have relied primarily on data drawn from periods when there were no stakes attached to the teacher value-added measures.” Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Thomas J. Kane, Douglas O. Staiger, “Validating Teacher Effect Estimates Using Changes in Teacher Assignments in Los Angeles,” NBER Working Paper No. 20657, Issued in November 2014, 24-5: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20657.

ii Linda Darling-Hammond, “Can Value Added Add Value to Teacher Evaluation?” Educational Researcher, March 2015 44, 132-37: http://edr.sagepub.com/content/44/2/132.full.pdf+html?ijkey=jEZWtoEsiWg92&keytype=ref&siteid=spedr.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 152,364 other followers