Tag Archives: High Stakes Testing

Parent meeting with Commissioner Elia

Commissioner Elia came to Ulster County on Tuesday December 8, 2015 and I was one of the three parents from the Kingston City School District invited to attend the parent meeting with her.  The meeting was arranged through BOCES and I know there were parents from both Ulster and Dutchess counties.  Not sure if Orange county was represented or not.

Commissioner Elia seemed to be a very nice lady and was definitely more successful at creating rapport with the parents than our previous commissioner, John King. Commissioner Elia spoke for more than half of the hour scheduled for our meeting with her and we didn’t actually start at 1:15pm so only 5 parents had opportunity to ask any questions.  I wasn’t one of those who asked a question this time around (I did get to address Commissioner King when he visited Spackenkill back in 2013).
Commissioner Elia took time to introduce herself and give her background in education.  She then gave a history of Common Core and explained how a lot of people categorize everything as “Common Core”.  She said that when talking about Common Core, we should just be talking about the standards and that there are four “buckets” of things people have issues with:
  • standards
  • curriculum
  • assessments
  • evaluation system

She also noted that we have had standards since 1647 and that the evaluation system has been changed four (4) times since Common Core was introduced.

Commissioner Elia is right that all of the above items/issues get lumped under “Common Core”.  In fact she missed including excessive data collection.  However I disagree with her that the standards are the only part that should be appropriately referred to as “Common Core”.  Each piece of this package is intricately woven together and can not function/succeed without the other pieces so it is indeed appropriate to refer to the package in its entirety as Common Core.

Commissioner Elia talked about the state department of education AimHighNY survey on the Common Core State Standards and reported that 71% of the 10,500 respondents were supportive of the standards.  I thought it was interesting though that she then proceeded to state that comments included statements that someone liked a standard but it should be in a different grade, for example it should be in grade 1 but it is in kindergarten.  My question is: how can the standard be liked/considered good if it is in the wrong grade?  The standard identifies what the children are supposed to know at the particular grade so if the standard is in the wrong grade then the standard is wrong/bad.  This is how some people defend the developmentally inappropriate Common Core State Standards – “they are okay if you just do them a little differently”.  The standards were written so that all states across the country would be teaching students the same things in the same grades and therefore students could move from state to state without missing out on pieces of their education.  If states can just move standards from one grade to another, we no longer have COMMON Core.
Commissioner Elia didn’t talk about it but I want to make sure everyone knows about another important survey.   New York Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) conducted a survey on the Common Core State Standards for one week and received about 12,000 responses.  You can click to read full details about the survey but the key points are:
  • 70 percent oppose the Common Core standards
  • Over 80 percent of respondents indicated that they believe ELA and Math standards in grades K-3 are developmentally inappropriate for many students
  • 91 percent say that the Common Core exams in grades 3-8 are flawed
  • 54 percent indicated that high schools should use the previous NYS Regents exams rather than new exams aligned to the Common Core standards
  • 96 percent say that test scores should not be linked to principal or teacher evaluations
  • 86.5 percent say that the state should abandon the Common Core standards and return to the New York’s former standards until educators can create better ones
The first parent/teacher who spoke was from Ellenville and felt that students spend too many days taking the state tests.  One of the parent’s comments was that perhaps a fixed 90 minute testing time is not appropriate and that perhaps students who were engaged in taking the test should be allowed to finish their test if they desired to do so, even if it took longer than the ‘allowed’ testing period.  I interpreted the comment to be a suggestion that the testing time should not be so regimented.  Apparently Commissioner Elia interpreted it differently because she asked the audience to raise hands if we thought students should be allowed to take longer than 90 minutes to finish their test.
Dr. Robin Jacobowitz, parent and board of education member from Kingston, was in attendance at the parent meeting with me and shared the “Time on Test” report in response to the suggestion to allow children to spend even more time on the standardized tests. Her concern was that even more than the current 4 days of lost instruction time could be lost but Dr. Jacobowitz’s comment was after the hand vote was taken by Commissioner Elia.
I was surprised when Rev. Childs reported at the KCSD Board of Education meeting on December 9 that Commissioner Elia said the department was considering allowing students to take longer than 90 minutes on their tests because Commissioner Elia didn’t tell us the idea was already under consideration when the idea was proposed in the parent meeting.
Concerns regarding testing and special education were mentioned by most if not all of the parents who spoke.
This quote from a parent, who I believe was from Red Hook, summed up the parent comments pretty well – “Someone owes these kids an apology for what they have been through.  It’s really not fair.”

Penalties for Refusing NYS Standardized Tests in 2016?

When parents refused the New York State standardized Common Core tests last spring, there were high hopes that change would be wrought and we wouldn’t have to be talking about refusing the state tests this year.

Unfortunately over 220,000 parents/students refused the tests and yet not much has changed in New York other than the name of the person who is in charge of the New York State Education Department. Commissioner Elia speaks of change but it is mostly in the future and not really in the areas that matter most to parents.

The students will still be taking developmentally inappropriate tests that are excessively long if they do not refuse the 2016 tests.  Even though a new testing company Questar has been hired, the 2016 tests were developed by Pearson.  Fifty percent (50%) of teachers’ evaluation will still be based on testing so testing will be the focus of the classrooms throughout the state.  The ‘official’ word is that a moratorium is being declared on the standardized tests and the results will not be used.  Seems to me like there is no need to administer the tests if the results are not being used.  In fact, for schools in receivership the test scores are being used to determine if the school can get out of receivership so there actually is no moratorium.

NYSAPE Nothing has changed 2016

The question is being asked, are there going to be financial penalties if too many parents/students refuse the state tests in 2016?

You would think we got this settled last year (here and here) but the question raised its ugly head again with a memo from the federal Department of Education in December 2015.  Note that the linked memo is actually an annotated version of the memo including a parental response from Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt-Out and NYSAPE.

According to analysis by FairTest, parents can safely refuse/opt-out/boycott standardized testing without fear of federal penalty to their schools.

In fact, the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) specifically authorizes states to allow parents to opt their children out of exams. ESSA does require 95% of students to be tested — but individual states have the power to decide what actions to take if too few students take an exam.

Some states have passed legislation protecting parental rights. Here’s the rub – New York State has not passed such legislation.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco introduced the Common Core Parental Refusal Act in March 2015 which would have given New York State parents the needed protection as well as requiring that parents be notified of their right to refuse.  Unfortunately due to party bickering, the majority party decided to introduce their own version of the bill, that lacked the important parental notification requirement, and neither version was passed.

It is now incumbent upon the New York State legislature to pass the Common Core Parental Refusal Act protecting a parent’s right to refuse standardized testing without penalty to the student, teacher, school or school district.

Don’t believe the hype Cuomo and State Ed are spinning! The Common Core Tests are still around to rob children of their love of learning and teachers of their creatitvy. If the changes they are professing to make to Common Core and to the standards are not lived up to, parents need to have in their back pocket a safeguard to opt their children out of the tests without fear of reprisal. Today, I joined my colleagues to talk about education including moving forward with the opt-out movement and codifying into law with the Common Core Parental Refusal Act (A.6025/S.4161) the right of parents to refuse to have their children take the developmentally inappropriate standardized tests without fear of any penalty to the students, teachers or schools. Sign the petition today at www.refusecommoncore.com!

James Tedisco at New York State Capitol.

Support the Common Core Parental Refual Act by signing the petition here.

Also contact your legislators and tell them to demand that the Common Core Parental Refusal Act A.6025/S.4161 be moved out of the Education committee and voted into law!

How much testing is too much?

President Obama issued a statement on October 24, 2015 that testing has gone too far and needs to be reduced to at most 2% of classroom instruction time.

Governor Cuomo followed up with a press release praising President Obama’s Testing Action Plan and detailing what he believes New York has already done to make testing less onerous.

Unfortunately as Diane Ravitch points out based on a piece written by Tim Farley, for states like New York where we already require 2% or less of instructional time to be spent on testing, the new Obama testing policy might increase the time spent testing students.

From Tim Farley:

In New York, as Cuomo has reminded us, we already have a two percent cap on time spent on standardized testing. What does that actually mean? New York requires 180 school days and an average school day runs about 6.5 hours. Do the math and the result is 180 x 6.5 x 2% = 23.4 hours of testing. So, by law, we cannot exceed 23.4 hours of standardized testing in grades 3 — 8.

This begs the question — how much time do kids in grades 3–8 spend on the state tests in English Language Arts and math? If you are a general education student, you will spend roughly nine hours in a testing room for both the ELA and math tests. If you are a student with a learning disability (SWD), and you have a testing accommodation of “double time,” you get to sit in a testing location for eighteen hours. As insane as that seems, it is still 5.4 hours short of the time allowed by law. A 2% cap isn’t a step forward, it’s a giant leap backward. …

How much testing is too much? I don’t know the magic number that will give the state education departments and the U.S. Department of Education the data they supposedly need in order to determine the effectiveness of the schools, but I do know that nine hours of testing is too much for a nine-year-old, eighteen hours is abusive for nine-year-olds with a learning disability, and 23.4 hours of testing for a child at any age is criminal.


More teaching less testing

Articles announcing President Obama’s Testing Action Plan:

Additional responses to the federal/New York State statements on reducing testing time:

By the way if you are not a regular reader of Mr. Greene’s posts, ‘BS Tests’ stands for ‘Big Standardized Tests’.

Stealth Assessments and Competency Based Education

Stealth Assessments and Competency Based Education – from stopcommoncorenys


For anyone who wants to see how the new generation of Competency Based Ed rolling exams will be marketed and who is behind it, please check out the following. Note Gates and Pearson, among others. This is not the competency based learning from years ago.

click here to continue reading


Key points of concern:

You don’t have to be a technophobe to sound alarm bells. Children sitting on devices all day long – concerns all of us. For budgetary reasons, for health reasons, for social reasons, and for practical reasons, is this what parents and teachers want, and does it matter? And what becomes of the teacher who has acquired a masters degree, who is now to sit and be a tech support proctor? Where does the human interaction fall in this paradigm? Let’s not forget online vulnerability. Where does the data go? How safely is it protected from hackers?

NYSAPE Survey Shows New Yorkers Overwhelmingly Reject Common Core Standards, Tests & Evaluation Policies

In response to NYS Education Department’s AimHighNY survey on the Common Core that many parents and teachers found excessively complex and not open to general comments, New York State Allies for Public Education created a user-friendly survey and posted it online between November 23 and November 30. Close to 12,000 New Yorkers filled out our survey in just a week’s time. According to Commissioner Elia, only 5500 completed NYSED survey in three weeks’ time. Governor’s Common Core task force has received 1,798 submissions since December 2, according to Politico.

The respondents to the NYSAPE survey overwhelmingly reject the Common Core standards, believe the state exams and test-based teacher evaluation system are flawed, and that these reforms have worsened instruction in both English Language Arts and Math at the classroom level.

Read NYSAPE’s full press release below.

New Yorkers reject Common Core

New Yorkers reject Common Core

More information contact:
NYS Allies for Public Education www.nysape.org

NYSAPE Survey Shows New Yorkers Overwhelmingly Reject Common Core Standards, Tests & Evaluation Policies

In response to NYS Education Department’s AimHighNY survey on the Common Core that many parents and teachers found excessively complex and not open to general comments, New York State Allies for Public Education created a user-friendly survey and posted it online between November 23 and November 30. Close to 12,000 New Yorkers filled out our survey in just a week’s time. According to Commissioner Elia, only 5500 completed NYSED survey in three weeks’ time. Governor’s Common Core task force has received 1,798 submissions since December 2, according to Politico.

The respondents to the NYSAPE survey overwhelmingly reject the Common Core standards, believe the state exams and test-based teacher evaluation system are flawed, and that these reforms have worsened instruction in both English Language Arts and Math at the classroom level.

Parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and concerned NY residents all took part in the NYSAPE survey. Of special note, 11 percent of our survey respondents also completed NYSED’s survey and 32.9 percent attempted to complete NYSED’s survey but gave up.

Of those who responded to the NYSAPE survey, 70 percent oppose the Common Core standards, 4 percent support them, 23 percent have concerns with them, and 3 percent are undecided. An even higher percentage –83 percent — believe the Common Core standards in both ELA and Math have worsened instruction. 83 percent also disagree with the shift to close reading strategies.

Over 80 percent of respondents indicated that they believe ELA and Math standards in grades K-3 are developmentally inappropriate for many students. Fewer than 4 percent of respondents say that the ELA and Math standards for grades 4-8 are well designed.

For grades 9-12, only 2 percent of respondents approve of the ELA and Math Standards. Only 6.2 percent agree with the Common Core’s quota for informational text versus literary text.

An overwhelming number – 91 percent –say that the Common Core exams in grades 3-8 are flawed, while fewer than 1 percent believe they are valid or well-designed. Among those who find the tests to be flawed, many believe the tests are developmentally inappropriate, too long, not useful for assessing students with disabilities and/or English language learners and that reading passages and questions are too difficult and confusing.

Of our respondents, 54 percent indicated that high schools should use the previous NYS Regents exams rather than new exams aligned to the Common Core standards, while roughly 40 percent believe that students should not have to pass any high stakes exams to graduate.

Those who took the NYSAPE survey are nearly unanimous, at 96 percent, that test scores should not be linked to principal or teacher evaluations. 86.5 percent say that the state should abandon the Common Core standards and return to the New York’s former standards until educators can create better ones.

The full results of the survey are posted here: http://www.nysape.org/nysape-cc-survey-results.html

“NYSAPE’s findings are in line with the poll results and most of the testimony to the Governor’s Common Core Task Force. There is no way around this; the Governor and the legislature must eliminate these Standards, revamp the tests, and reverse the harmful education laws,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

One of the survey respondents said, “As a teacher who trained at Bank Street College of Education, I find the standards developmentally inappropriate. As a reading specialist, I find the kindergarten standards far too high in reading and writing. As a parent, I am very concerned because I have a child who hates reading because it was pushed so hard at his school.”

“The results of the survey confirm that the vast majority of parents and teachers do not approve of the Common Core, and oppose the rigid quotas for informational text and ‘close reading’ strategies that have straitjacketed instruction throughout the state. They want to abandon these standards, and return to our previous ones until educators can craft better ones. We hope that state policymakers, including the Commissioner, the Governor, the Board of Regents and our legislators, will listen,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.

“The tremendous response to NYSAPE’s survey underscores that parents and educators are eager to be heard. The fact that the Commissioner Elia could not create an accessible survey only fuels concerns about her competence and willingness to truly engage parents and practitioners,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, Rethinking Testing member and educator.

“Vice Chancellor Bottar attempted to portray the appointment of Commissioner Elia as a positive change, assuring the public that she would be able to communicate more effectively with parents and educators to find common ground. Vice Chancellor Bottar’s continued poor judgement and complicity with the failed reform agenda can no longer be tolerated; it is time for him to step down,” said Jessica McNair Oneida County public school parent, educator and Opt Out Central NY founder.

NYSAPE, a grassroots organization with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state, is calling on parents to continue to opt out by refusing high-stakes testing for the 2015-16 school year. Go to www.nysape.org for more details on how to affect changes in education policies.



Please complete NYSAPE Common Core Survey today

** UPDATE:  Survey results in –  NYSAPE Survey shows New Yorkers overwhelming REJECT Common Core Standards, tests & evaluation policies **  

From NYS Allies for Public Education:

If you haven’t already done so, please complete NYSAPE’s  Common Core survey today to have your voices heard regarding the common core standards, curriculum and testing.  Please share this survey widely.  For more details about this survey, please click here.

The results of this survey will be made public and presented to the Board of Regents, Education Commissioner Elia, Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force, and NYS Legislature.

Together, let’s keep up the fight to ensure all children receive the education they deserve. We wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Very best,

NYS Allies for Public Education www.nysape.org


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 23, 2015 

More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) www.nysape.org

NYS Ed Commissioner Elia is Misleading Public with Deceptive Common Core Survey

Immediately following the release of NY Education Commissioner’s Maryellen Elia’s Common Core ‘AimHighNY’ survey a few weeks ago, critics sounded the alarm that the State Education Department was preventing the public from offering any comment on the standards that did not adhere to the survey’s arcane format –a complex maze of ‘click here’ boxes for each specific standard.

During this month’s Board of Regents meeting, Commissioner Elia claimed that the survey DID provide the opportunity for general public comment and that she never expected people to respond to each specific standard.

Calls to the NYS Education Department following that meeting revealed there was no opportunity for general public comment in the survey, and feedback NOT aligned with the lengthy and complex standard-by-standard format would NOT be included in the public record.

From the NYSED website, “This [survey] is not a referendum on the standards. Only comments tied to a specific standard will be considered.”
Experts, parents, and educators alike are outraged.  Not only is the survey fundamentally flawed, it is designed to silence legitimate criticism and exclude the views of most members of the public, who according to the polls, overwhelming oppose the Common Core standards.

Sandra Stotsky, a leading expert who designed the esteemed Massachusetts education standards, said, “A review of a set of standards, standard by standard, is a dishonest and deliberately unproductive method for the state to ask for because the organization of the standards is the key to their quality and effectiveness, whether in mathematics or English language arts.”

“Members of the public are not fooled.  When you ask for ‘Public Comment’ but prevent most parents and teachers who do not have the time to follow your complicated rules, we know that you are really not interested in what they have to say.  The survey is designed to block out dissenting voices,” said Jessica McNair, Central NY public school parent, educator, and Opt Out CNY founder.

“Elia has declared war on parents who are trying to protect their children from these harmful reforms.  This disingenuous survey along with Elia’s ‘fear mongering’ School Administrator Toolkit demonstrates a complete disregard for parents who are choosing not to participate in this failed system,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent and Long Island Opt Out founder.

Alan Singer, Hofstra University professor and Huffington Post blogger, wrote in his recent post [link] “… the problem with this bogus survey is not each individual standard. No one is going to vote that we should not teach children to read, write, and think. However, nowhere can you vote that Common Core Standards aligned with high-stakes testing have undermined education in New York State, stressed out students and teachers, turned curriculum development over to test design companies, and transformed schools into test prep academies. These are the real reasons parents and teachers oppose the Common Core.”

Parents know the poorly designed survey is the reason why only 5500 people across the entire state have responded.  Elia also reported at the Board of Regents meeting that while most speakers at public hearings have been opposed to the Common Core, this controversial survey shows a different result that so far, 70% of teachers [less than 1% of NY Teachers responded] support the Common Core.

“The Albany Fix is already in.  Parents predict Commissioner Elia’s survey press release will likely declare that despite overwhelming opposition in statewide polls and at public hearings, a majority of respondents support the Common Core,” said Lisa Rudley, Hudson Valley public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.
Instead, NYSAPE just released a user-friendly survey to maximize public participation and input, and offer the results to the Board of Regents, Commissioner Elia and the Governor’s Common Core Task Force for their consideration.

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) is a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator grassroots organizations throughout the state.

Your voice matters


Receivership, High Stakes Testing and Social Justice Forum

Check out this forum coming up on December 1, 2015 hosted by Rethinking Testing: Mid-Hudson Region

The panel will address the increasing intense segregation of public schools in New York State and the discriminatory nature of current accountability policy and law, including receivership and high stakes testing. Panelists will examine the implications for ALL students, communities, and taxpayers, the dangers of privatization from these policies and the resultant loss local control and infringement on parental rights and voice.

Panelists will highlight the need for united action to challenge these policies from people of all communities and will discuss a new vision for socially and educationally-just schools and communities that educate all children in meaningful ways.

Panelists will include:

Jamaal Bowman, Principal of CASA Middle School, Bronx NY
Kevin Gibson, Buffalo Parent & Educator, Secretary of Buffalo Teacher’s Federation
Ellen Roach, Parent and Board of Education Member-Elect, Albany City Schools
Bianca Tanis, Parent and Special Education Advocate

The forum will be held on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium at 7:00pm.

SUNY NP December 2015 Forum

We’re destroying our kids — for nothing


“We’re destroying our kids — for nothing: Too much homework, too many tests, too much needless pressure “

 If you have children who are stressed out in elementary, middle, or high school, this post is for you. If you have heard about the “new” SAT and have concerns, this post is for you. If you worry about high stakes standardized tests and the pressure cooker our government has thrown our kids into, this post is for you. If you wonder what is best for your children or grandchildren in education today, this post is for you. ….  – read full post here from “What’s the big idea?” blog November 14, 2015
Vicki Ables, the mom and filmmaker who brought us the award winning and eye opening documentary, Race to Nowhere, now brings us a new book and film, Beyond Measure.
Beyond Measure asks the important questions.“Rather than ask why our students fail to measure up, this film asks us to reconsider the greater purpose of education. What if our education system valued personal growth over test scores? Put inquiry over mimicry? Encouraged passion over rankings? What if we decided that the higher aim of school was not the transmission of facts or formulas, but the transformation of every student? And what if this paradigm-shift was driven from the ground up? By students, parents, and educators? By all of us?
To all parents: We are being used, our children are pawns in the game, and not only must we educate ourselves, we must spread the truth. Please share this information with everyone you know. Write editorials, speak to school boards, speak firmly and loudly to politicians. Our voices are stronger together. We must protect our children and their schools (pre-k to 20).The slick PR of the corporate education reform world is a sham. Let’s take care of our kids, and fight to prevent our future grandchildren from suffering in this Madison Avenue marketed manipulation and destruction of our school systems (both private and public) that is stealing the joy of childhood from our children.

Panel questions effectiveness of Common Core standards

Governor Cuomo’s Common Core task force held their first public meeting on Thursday night October 29, 2015 in New Rochelle, New York.  They heard the following from Principal Jamaal Bowman:

“The state has disempowered the schools and the school districts” with the implementation of the educational standards, said panelist Jamaal Bowman, principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx, to the task force.

The results of those tests and the curriculum within the schools are no longer trusted at the level they used to be, Bowman said. “And the state assessments have driven a wedge between the teachers and the parents.”  – “Panel questions effectiveness of Common Core standards” lohud.com October 30, 2015

The lohud article continues on to report that “while there was much criticism of Common Core, there were still places in the state that it appeared to be working” and that the superintendent of the Schodack Central School District who “credited the standards with driving up graduation rates and students’ college-career readiness” had concerns regarding the reliance on standardized testing.

Local parents advocating for the removal of Common Core were in attendance at the meeting as well.  Stop Common Core videographer Mert Melfa captured Principal Bowman’s presentation and I highly recommend taking the 15 minutes to hear what he had to say to the panel.

Although Principal Bowman is a product of a public school and works at a public school (not a charter), he does not feel confident in placing his currently 18-month old daughter in a public school when she turns five due to “the test-and-punish culture that we have created.”

Principal Bowman made the following recommendations to the Common Core task force:

  • Remove teacher evaluations aligned to state assessments immediately
  • Administer state assessments, if you need to, created by teachers in fourth and seventh grades
  • Begin a statewide focus and conversation around authentic curriculum, instruction and formative assessment (not summative assessment).  Emphasis local assessment not state assessment.
  • Implement a birth to age eight program in our highest need districts.

“I am not anti-testing and anti-standards.  I just want to emphasize formative assessments that meet the needs of individual students and empowers teachers.”

Wappingers Falls Central School District parent and Stop Common Core warrior Deborah Torres Henning shared this report on her facebook page:

I know there are those interested in finding out what went on at the 1st task force meeting. Let me try and summarize: after being required to reserve our spot via sign up, we were told to be there no later than 3:30 for a 4pm start. We were there – the panel wasn’t…until 4:35. There were 65 (SIXTY FIVE) available seats for the audience – huh? Why so limited, and what was the criteria for allowing the audience in? No one on the governors staff could answer that question for me, so I proceeded to enter the room and say hello to familiar faces and fellow warriors.

Then the Task force led by Parsons introduced the members of the Task force panel. The presenters included a panel of 5, 2 of which were wishy washy in their stance for?against? ( Dr. Linda Sturges, Professor of Mathematics & Mathematics and Computer Science Curriculum Supervisor, SUNY Maritime College and Robert Horan, Superintendent, Schodack Central School District ); 1 who must’ve left her pom poms at home for her cc cheerleading and I swore was going to kiss herself bc she thought she was so great (Judy Kelly, English Teacher, Sleepy Hollow High School; English Department Chair, Sleepy Hollow High School & Middle School; President, Local Teachers Union ) and 2 presenters who actually wowed me (Jamaal Bowman, Principal, Cornerstone Academy for Social Action and Lisa Rudley, Westchester County Parent, Co-Founder and Executive Director of New York State Allies for Public Education )

While I may not agree with all of NYSAPE’s or BAT’s approaches to addressing this reform debacle, these two individuals did me proud! They were informed, they knew their stuff and they went to bat against the test and punish culture. Both called for the removal of teacher evaluations linked to testing IMMEDIATELY. Both called for more local control and to bring back creativty, communication, and critical thinking to educating our children, and that we needed to educate the whole child and that just wasn’t being done anymore and its WRONG.

While Jamaal did an outstanding job, and discussed design thinking and problem solving methodology, and something called I-Ready (I have to research that), I wished he had done just one more thing after his presentation – and that was to DROP THE MIKE! It was THAT good!

Lisa was so jarring to their smug senses that they pummeled her in the question and answer portion between the presenters and the task force members. She held her own and didn’t falter. She knew her stuff! One member, Sam Radford, had the audacity to come down on Lisa about what her credentials were and how could we trust her integrity for being the voice of parents…we have NO idea how HE was chosen to be on this task force, and he dares to ask her THAT? He’s a punk, I guess that’s why Cuomo put him on there.

The arrows kept flying at Lisa, but she not only was able to succinctly deflect them with actual information and reason, she had a few of us supporting her the way you would expect us seasoned warriors trying to protect their own – LOUDLY!

The questions the task force asked sounded as if they had never heard any of this before. “how do you know the testing is bad?”, “what evidence do you have to support this?”, “can you get us the data and research to support blah blah blah?” Hey! Aren’t THEY the ones who are supposed to get the research and data??? Grrrrrr….. There was so much more, but I just wanted to get my initial thoughts out before my head burst.

There are 12 of these meetings scheduled around the state – PLEASE make sure that if there is one within a 2 hour radius from your home, you get to one! Our voices and our support is needed for the presenters who are trying to speak out against CC, Testing, Data Collection, RttT and all the other tentacles.

Regional Public Sessions – Friday, November 6th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
One session will be held in each region of the state (total of 10 meetings). Regional meeting details will be available on the Task Force website early next week.
Public Session Two – Wednesday, November 18th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Erie County – meeting details will be announced on the Task Force website as they become available.
The public is also encouraged to submit comments and recommendations to the Common Core Task Force on its website,ny.gov/CommonCoreTaskForce.


Additional reporting on the first public meeting:

New Paltz BOE Stands Against Use of State Tests to Evaluate Teachers

The New Paltz Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution against the use of state test scores to evaluate the efficacy of teachers and schools on November 4, 2015.

Read the resolution here.

After seven points about the Value Added Model (VAM), the BOE concludes:

Our conclusion is that the results produced by the current assessment system are unproven, volatile, and lack utility. We call upon the Board of Regents and Legislature to immediately suspend all state assessments that use a VAM or growth theory until there is evidence of efficacy.

The BOE gives four points about APPR and concludes:

Our conclusion is that the current APPR mandates are invalid measures of educator- and school district-effectiveness and present serious short- and long-term risks to the availability of instructional talent.

Finally after three points on the utility of student assessment data, the conclusion is reached:

Our conclusion is that the data produced by the state assessment system provide no value while simultaneously diverting resources away from initiatives that serve districts’ missions.

Based on the conclusions presented, the New Paltz Central School District makes the following recommendation:

The Board of Education of the New Paltz Central School District asks the Board of Regents, State Education Department, New York State Legislature, and Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare an immediate moratorium on the current testing mandates and for that moratorium to continue until such time as a body of evidence for their efficacy in improving instruction has been fully established. We also request that no Smart Bond funds are expended to computerize an evaluation system based on the Value Added Model. – New Paltz CSD Board of Education Resolution Regarding Value Added Model

Note the request to not use any of the Smart Schools Bond fund money for testing.  A concern of many of those who advocated against passage of the Smart Schools Bond Act was that it would be used to cement testing/Common Core within the schools.  We need to make sure that does not happen while everyone is still ‘deciding’ what is to be done about Common Core/testing.

The New Paltz BOE will send their resolution to the Board of Regents, including our local Regent Josephine Finn, for consideration before the Regents meeting on November 16, 2015.  The New Paltz BOE also asks that the resolution be shared widely so that other New York parents and school districts can contact the Board of Regents to show support of the resolution.