Posts tagged "SED"
October 16, 2012
The city and other school districts desperately need additional funding if they are to raise academic standards, Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky said today.
Even though the city has done more to integrate new learning standards known as the Common Core than other districts and states, it cannot adequately train staff or buy the materials it needs with the resources it currently has, he said.
“We are bound to fall short if we raise the standards without investing in the support that educators need to meet this challenge,” he told the commission, according to his written statement.
The call for additional funding was one of three priorities that Polakow-Suransky outlined before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform commission today. The funding, he said, would be necessary to to purchase new books, software and other learning tools aligned to the Core, and help schools hire coaches to train teachers in the implementation of the Core. He also said the city needed more funds to develop a key piece of the new teacher evaluation system, rigorous assessments developed by the city for each grade level and subject area that would factor into teachers’ evaluations on top of many other criteria.
“As these assessments become more authentic there are real costs that come along with them,” Polakow-Suransky said. “None of this is funded.”
Polakow-Suransky was offering a solution to a problem that United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told the commission had already arrived. Mulgrew said the Common Core rollout has already been hindered by the lack of robust materials aligned to the new standards that teachers can use in classrooms now. (more…)
September 13, 2012
Social studies teachers who want to align their instruction to the Common Core have so far gotten only limited guidance: The new curriculum standards exist only for literacy and math, and a search of the city’s resource library comes up bare.
Now, they are getting a helping hand from the State Education Department, which today released a proposal for revising what is taught in social studies and when. (more…)
August 30, 2012
New York State’s No Child Left Behind waiver has spawned a new list of struggling schools that education officials could close if they don’t post dramatic improvements by 2015.
That list includes many schools that were identified as struggling by the state in the past and have undergone deep reform interventions or begun phasing out, but now labels them as “priority schools.” In New York City, there are 123 priority schools, nearly double the schools once identified as “persistently low achieving” because their students performed poorly on state tests and posted low graduation rates.
The schools are being called priority schools because their statistics are grim, officials said. The state determined which schools would be identified as priority based on four-year graduation rates (under 60 percent) in high schools and a student growth formula from state test scores in elementary and middle schools that places the schools in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide, per guidelines set by the federal government.
The districts will have just three years to improve these data points, according to a release the State Education Department published late this afternoon, and must submit transitional plans for each priority school by October. And for the first time, State Education Commissioner John King will have the authority to require districts to close the schools that fail to make gains.
Districts generally have several options for funding reforms in these schools through federal School Improvement Grant and Race to the Top Innovation Funding programs. But New York City has fewer.
Because the city and the teachers union have yet to agree on a teacher evaluation plan, state officials said the city is only eligible to receive funding to implement the most stringent of interventions: school closure over a four-year period, through a process known as phase-out, or school “turnaround.” But turnaround is for now off the table because the city lost a lawsuit over its plans to use the turnaround model in 24 schools earlier this summer. It is appealing the decision, but is not likely to see a resolution soon. (more…)
June 22, 2012
Three months after the city asked the state for federal funds to fuel school ‘turnaround’ efforts, the state has responded — with a resounding “maybe.”
In a letter released late Friday, State Education Commissioner John King said the way the city plans to overhaul 24 struggling schools meets the state’s requirements. But he said he would only hand over the federal funds, known as School Improvement Grants, if the city meets steep conditions.
To meet some of those conditions, the city would need to come out ahead in arbitration with the teachers union over collective bargaining rules at the 24 schools. It must also prove that community members were looped in on the city’s planning process.
The arbitration, which covers a dispute over whether the city may use a process outlined in the teachers union contract for schools that close and reopen (called 18-D), is set to end next week. If the union comes out ahead, hiring and firing decisions at the schools would be reversed and, according to King’s letter, the city would not be able to collect the SIG grants, which total nearly $60 million.
Earlier this year, King said he saw the city’s proposal as “approvable.” But he stayed quiet as the city signaled it would not force schools to adhere to a central requirement of turnaround set by the U.S. Department of Education: that they replace at least 50 percent of their teachers.
King’s letter today says the city must meet the federal government’s staffing requirements.
State turnaround advisors say “the percentage matters,” SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins said over email. “18-D is the mechanism to achieve the required percentage.” (more…)
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…)
June 5, 2012
Speaking to philanthropists and foundation leaders on Monday, the city, state, and national schools chiefs presented a united front — except when it came to the sticky issue of whether to release teachers’ ratings to the public.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, State Education Commissioner John King, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offered up tips on financing school reform at Philanthropy New York’s 33rd annual meeting.
The meeting drew representatives from major education organizations used to making and receiving philanthropic gifts, including the Harlem Children’s Zone and The After-School Corporation. It also attracted education policy neophytes from large private foundations: Many in the audience didn’t know how many of New York State’s 250,000 ninth graders typically make it to 12th grade without dropping out (Duncan furnished the answer: 188,000).
The trio of education policy heavyweights together urged attendees to think about how their contributions could support their priorities, such as implementing new learning standards, known as the Common Core, and overhauling the country’s lowest-performing schools. Walcott told the audience that private donations have fueled some of the city’s most innovative reform efforts, including the Common Core Library and the technology-infused iZone.
“I’m actually not coming here to ask you to give a lot more, although that would be great too, but to be really smarter in what you’re giving,” Duncan said.
But they were divided when moderator Beth Fertig, WNYC’s education report, asked whether they thought districts and states should make teacher evaluations available to the public, as New York City did in February in response to requests from several news organizations. It’s a question that state lawmakers could tackle this month. (more…)
May 18, 2012
Hiring is set to resume at the 24 “turnaround” schools under an agreement city and union officials reached late Friday afternoon.
But the hiring decisions could be reversed if an arbitrator ultimately decides that the unions’ complaint — that the city is attempting to circumvent contractual hiring and firing policies at the schools — is valid.
The city teachers and principals unions sued to stop the hiring process, but on Wednesday, a State Supreme Court judge urged both sides to accept arbitration rather than pursue litigation. Today, the city and unions agreed “in principle” to seek arbitration, selected an arbitrator, and selected a first meeting date — June 5.
In the meantime, the city will continue the process of rehiring or replacing teachers at the schools — but will have to run the risk of having those decisions undone if the arbitrator rules in the unions’ favor.
The outcome of the contractual dispute could affect the state’s ability to approve those 24 schools for a pot of federal funds, Commissioner John King told reporters today. (more…)
March 28, 2012
Department of Education officials are telling principals of schools slated for “turnaround” not to worry about quotas when they decide which teachers to hire for next year.
This guidance conflicts with the federal guidelines for the reform model, which require a school to replace at least half its teachers. It also contradicts the words of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials, who have done little to dispute this figure before alarmed teachers, students and parents at meetings held throughout the city.
The 50 percent figure has been repeated again and again in months since Bloomberg’s announcement, at forums, protests, union press conferences, and city presentations. Superintendent Aimee Horowitz told families and staff at Brooklyn’s William E. Grady High School and Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School that “up to 50 percent of the remaining faculty can be re-hired,” while at least 50 percent will have to leave. At a meeting of the Citywide Council on High Schools, Deputy Chancellor Elaine Gorman distributed a presentation that said part of the plan was to “re-hire no more than 50 percent.”
But behind the scenes, department officials have been telling principals to ignore this requirement. They said they have told principals at the 33 schools to hire the best teachers available without fretting over whether they are new or would be returning.
“Our goal is for schools to hire and recruit the most qualified teachers who meet the high standards set by their principals — not to remove a certain percentage of staff,” said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “As that happens, we will work with the state to secure millions of dollars in funding that these new schools need and deserve.”
Principals who have been working on developing plans for the replacement schools say they plan to follow the department’s instructions and are anticipating replacing far fewer teachers than 50 percent. Multiple principals said they were expecting to replace about a quarter of their teachers over the summer. (more…)
October 21, 2011
Months after a deal to let a handful of city schools receive federal funding, requirements continue to keep millions of Race to the Top dollars off-limits to all but 2 percent of city schools.
When New York State won $700 million in the federal Race to the Top competition last year, it put some funds to use on statewide initiatives. But nearly $350 million went into smaller funds with specific aims: to build new curriculum models or train teachers, for example. Now, the state has started opening those pools up to districts — but it has set an eligibility requirement that the city can’t meet.
The state requires that districts commit to putting new teacher evaluations in place by next year — with union support. That requirement can be found in several of the Requests for Proposals for Race to the Top-related initiatives that the state has begun releasing.
In one application for funding that it submitted last week, the city could not show it had the union’s support for the new teacher evaluation system in most of its schools, in the form of a required Memorandum of Understanding, so it only applied for money for the 30 schools that do.
Those 30 schools are among 33 included in a partial teacher evaluation deal hashed out this summer, when the union and city saw that federal school improvement grants were at stake. At the time, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said he wanted to see the outcome of the pilot before expanding the evaluations to more schools. And as the year has worn on, slow-moving negotiations about the new evaluations have seemed headed for an impasse. (more…)