The New York State Senate and Assembly were supposed to end session last Wednesday June 17, 2015 but they have not yet done so. They are returning today to try and wrap up ‘important’ issues. One of the items still undecided is the impact of state standardized testing on our children and the teacher appraisal system.
The New York Board of Regents approved a new teacher evaluation system last week which still bases 50% of a teacher’s evaluation squarely on standardized testing.
Gone is the old rating method that lasted just two years and scored teachers on 20 percent local test scores, 20 percent state test scores and 60 percent classroom observation.
The revisions mean 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation and rating will be based on state standardized test scores. The other half will be based on assessments developed by the local district. State Education Department staff wanted state tests to account for 80 percent of the evaluations, while some Regents and teachers union officials called for only 20 percent. – Regents OKs new teacher evaluation system
Seven Board of Regents members submitted a letter protesting such usage of standardized testing in the evaluation but Regent Finn, the Regent for Ulster County, withdrew her support of the letter bringing the count down to six Regents opposed and the majority passed the new evaluation system regardless of the letter.
The NYS Senate passed bill S5954 on June 15 that supposedly deals with the education problems we are facing but the bill is not up to snuff in my opinion. You can read my analysis of the new bill S5954 below**.
Bottom line is that if a school district’s teacher evaluation plans are not submitted on time and with full compliance shown, no money for the school districts per Senate bill S5954. The Senate has NOT uncoupled the funding from APPR and 50% of the teacher evaluations are still based on standardized testing! Also the Senate bill does NOT match the NYS Assembly bill A7303A passed last month and session is supposed to have ended so the likelihood of the two groups getting together to pass a bill that Governor Cuomo will then sign into law is about NIL!
The Assembly bill does not address a number of important issues, and in fact does not relieve the testing strain for children (read here), but it does at least uncouple school funding from implementation of a new APPR plan.
Will the educational mess that was introduced by Governor Cuomo’s state budget be dealt with before the legislators end session or will we be left with school funding still tied to a new APPR plan based 50% on student test scores that has to be negotiated in each district and submitted by November 15, 2015? Sounds to me like Governor Cuomo is about to get exactly what he wanted!
** Details of Senate bill S5954:
- Senate bill S5954 is pretty much the same as Senator Flanagan’s original education proposal S5124 (which I discussed here and here) except that school districts have until February 15, 2016 to submit their new appraisal plans.
- Some extra wording regarding review of test questions is supposed to help ensure that the questions are readable at grade level but I am not convinced it will significantly help students due to the many problems with the standardized tests.
- S5954 adds a restriction against teachers having to sign confidentiality agreements preventing them from discussing the content of the state tests.
- The section regarding the election of board of regents members that was in S5124 has been removed from S5954.
- Senator Bonacic believes this bill makes positive reforms for our kids. “My colleagues and I have listened and received the concerns of parents, students, teachers and administrators regarding this process and I believe this legislation makes positive reforms,” said Sen. John Bonacic said in a statement. “This bill goes a long way in allaying any fears that students and teachers may have had when Governor (Andrew) Cuomo unveiled his initial education proposals.” – Regents OKs new teacher evaluation system – Times Herald Record June 16, 2015 I disagree based on my concerns noted for the original bill S5124 and those listed above.
- CLASS went to Albany on May 27, 2015 and met with each of the majority members of the Senate education committee to request changes to Senate bill S5124. Changes requested by CLASS and NYSAPE were NOT incorporated into S5954.