Posts tagged "NYSED"
June 20, 2012
Educators sweating the state’s shift from old to new learning standards have received their first clues to what new tests will look like.
Teachers across the state opened their email inboxes Tuesday to an announcement from State Education Commissioner John King: Sample test items are now available.
Educators across the state have known for more than a year that next year’s elementary and middle school reading and math tests would be aligned to the new standards, known as the Common Core. But they hadn’t yet gotten detailed information about the assessments to help them revamp their instruction.
“It’s true that this is going to be a change in terms of the topics that are taught and the number of topics,” Shael Polakow-Suransky, the Department of Education’s chief academic officer, said this spring. “Planning for that is difficult given that we don’t know all the information at this stage.”
In his letter to teachers, King quoted an upstate official who told him, “The items are ambitious, but not unattainable.”
“We must be ambitious,” King added.
The Common Core shifts the focus of English lessons from narrative fiction to expository and argumentative writing. In math, it emphasizes word problems and problem-solving. And across all subjects, it favors assignments that deal with authentic, real-world questions. (more…)
February 16, 2012
Just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal about the structure of a new teacher evaluation system, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was no longer concerned about the state’s eligibility for federal Race to the Top funds.
New York won $700 million in Race to the Top funds in large part by agreeing to adopt a new teacher evaluation system. But after passing an evaluation law in the spring of 2010, implementation was slow, and relations between the state and its teachers union, NYSUT, had deteriorated over the implementation.
Last month, charging that the state was “backtracking on reform commitments,” Duncan warned that New York was at risk of losing its Race to the Top funds.
Today, Duncan said he was no longer worried. He struck a tone of unreserved optimism this afternoon while speaking to reporters on a Midtown sidewalk as he dashed between a meeting with the New York Times editorial board and a taping of the Daily Show.
“This was a major roadblock, a major stumbling block, and I think they are over that in a great way,” he said. There’s a whole body of work going forward that New York has to do, but this was a major issue, a major concern of ours and I think they’ve addressed it in an extraordinary way.” (more…)
August 24, 2011
A State Supreme Court Judge partially sided with the state teachers union today over how big of a role standardized test scores should play for teacher evaluations.
Overturning a key state regulation that was approved by the Board of Regents in May, Judge Michael Lynch ruled that local districts could only double the weight of test scores in evaluations – from 20 percent to 40 percent – if the local union signs off on the arrangement. The judge upheld a different regulation, which will allow districts the option to increase testing emphasis, so long as it is through collective bargaining.
The New York State Education Department criticized the judge’s reversal and pledged to appeal it, further complicating the future of an evaluation system that was originally slated to take effect this year.
The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by New York State United Teachers in June. In the suit, NYSUT lawyers argued that the Regents were circumventing a carefully negotiated state law that set the weight of test scores at 20 percent. (more…)
July 28, 2011
Schools are still waiting for the results of state ELA and math tests, exactly one year after the 2010 scores were announced.
The July 26 Principals’ Weekly newsletter said that the state had “postponed the release” of the grade 3-8 scores, though the New York State Education Department said today that results were right around the corner.
“The release this year is imminent and will be announced shortly,” NYSED spokesman Tom Dunn said.
The Principals’ Weekly item told principals that after the scores are released, they will need to send “July promotion update letters” to students who had been held back, and to students who failed the tests but had been promoted to the next grade on the expectation that they would pass.
Now, it looks like those July updates may not come until August.
Clemente Lopes, principal of Horace Greeley Middle School in Long Island City, said that he was anxious to see his school’s scores—for planning, but also out of curiosity.
“I’d like to see how my students perform. I’m like a parent—I want to know how my kids did,” he said. (more…)
New York City has two weeks to convince the teachers union to sign onto its plans to turnaround 34 low-performing schools.
The feds have given the state $308 million to distribute to local school districts to “turn around” their lowest performing schools. Districts have until May 24 to apply for a portion of those funds, and the applications must include which of four federally-approved methods the districts plan to use to turn around each school.
And in most cases, districts will need to negotiate side deals with their unions outside of their regular contract to accommodate individual schools’ turnaround plans, State Deputy Education Commissioner John King said over the weekend. Each district must negotiate those changes before it submits its application for funds, King said. (more…)
January 6, 2010
Bowing to pressure from both internal and outside groups, the state has abruptly reversed a policy that banned charter schools from giving admissions preference to students who are not fluent in English.
On December 23, two days after I wrote about the New York State Education Department’s policy, state education officials informed the city’s Department of Education about the change in plan. The new policy, which will allow charter schools that want to focus on English Language Learners to give them preference in their admission lotteries, will directly and immediately affect one school: Inwood Academy for Leadership.
Initially, Inwood Academy’s principal Christina Hykes applied for a charter that would set aside 50 percent of the school’s seats for ELL students, creating two separate lotteries. But state officials told Hykes that only students “at risk of academic failure” could be singled out and given admissions preference. ELL students were not among these, officials said. (more…)
November 20, 2009
The New York State Education Department is failing to ensure that Regents tests are properly scored, according to an audit published today by the state comptroller’s office.
The exams are given to high school students, who have to pass five in different subject areas in order to receive a Regents diploma. Teachers normally administer and score the tests under the supervision of each school’s principal, and the school district is responsible for reporting scores to the state.
The audit focused on the review process the state uses to ensure the scoring is accurate and consistent. In these reviews, a group of teachers and NYSED officials re-score a random selection of exams and compare them to how the tests were originally scored to judge the accuracy. The review team then makes recommendations to the state and to schools about how to improve the scoring process.
In the most recent review, completed in 2005, the scores awarded by schools were routinely higher than the scores given by the reviewers, and reviewers reported that school scorers frequently assigned full credit to student answers that were “vague, incomplete, inaccurate or insufficiently detailed.”
But auditors found little to suggest that the state followed up to improve the process, the report says.
“For example, we found no evidence actions were taken to implement the Review team’s recommendations to improve scoring training and enhance quality control during the scoring process. We also found no evidence actions were taken to bring about improvements at particular schools,” the auditors write. (more…)
The state education department needs to regulate how it spends its stimulus money more thoroughly, according to an audit released last week by the U.S. Department of Education.
The report, prepared by the USDOE’s Office of Inspector General in a round of “initial” audits of four large states, calls into question state oversight practices that monitor how federal grant money is disbursed to school districts and then spent. The report concluded that the state needs to upgrade its regulatory systems in order to provide “a reasonable assurance of compliance” with federal law. (more…)
October 5, 2009
David Steiner is making raising standards and the overhaul of teacher preparation his major goals as education commissioner. But his ambitious agenda for reform may be slowed by a grim financial climate and a large, unwieldy bureaucracy, education leaders said in interviews last week.
Steiner, who was sworn in as commissioner of the New York State Education Department last Thursday, has long argued for making the teacher certification process more rigorous and for adding more in-the-classroom experience for teachers in training.
In his first moments in office, he acknowledged that he has a difficult mandate. But he also pointed to circumstances that he said would help push his agenda forward.
“A lot of powerful forces are coming together,” Steiner told reporters. He noted that the state Board of Regents and the federal government seem to be aligned in a strong commitment to raising academic standards and that he thought parents were becoming more committed to their children’s education than ever before.
“So while this is a very challenging moment, fiscally and otherwise, it’s also a moment of extraordinary opportunity,” he said. (more…)
May 21, 2009
An effort to move state tests later in the year is gaining momentum, following a state Education Department survey that shows wide support among teachers for the change. More than 80 percent of nearly 23,000 parents, teachers, and school administrators the department surveyed this spring said they favor at least some rescheduling of the tests, and the state Board of Regents could implement a change as soon as the 2010-2011 school year, a member said.
Right now, students take English tests in January and math tests in March, but critics have said the timing doesn’t give teachers enough time to bring students up to grade level. The early testing also makes it difficult to use test scores to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness.
The Board of Regents, the state board that sets education policy, requested the survey. Betty Rosa, a Regents member from the Bronx, said that the Regents are likely to propose a change in the timing of tests for the 2010-2011 school year. “All the members have been very, very united on this front,” Rosa said.
Merryl Tisch, the new Regents chancellor, did not return several requests for comment. (more…)