Panel urges NY Common Core changes

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Common Core panel: 4-year moratorium on linking tests, evals.

ALBANY — Common Core-based tests wouldn’t count for teachers and students in New York until the 2019-20 school year under a plan from an education panel advising Gov. Cuomo’s Common Core panel on Thursday recommended a four-year moratorium on tying teachers’ evaluations to students’ scores on standardized tests, a potential major policy switch for the state.

Cuomo created is calling for changes in what New York State students learn and how they are assessed, in a set of recommendations released on Thursday. The state Common Core Task Force issued its final report Thursday afternoon, laying out 21 recommendations for how the state can tailor the oft-debated education standards and improve the state’s standardized testing process. The panel, a mix of educators and officials appointed by Cuomo in September, recommended making “substantial revisions” to New York’s version of the Common Core, a more-stringent set of standards being rolled out in schools in more than 40 states. It also proposed creating a new set of state academic standards, built with input from parents, teachers and others, and allowing local school districts flexibility to tailor curriculum to the new standards.

The test-score policy would mark a major shift for Cuomo, who just last year ushered a law through the Legislature that increased the importance of student exam scores on a teacher’s annual evaluation. Twice, he fought to increase the weight that students’ test scores would have on evaluations — earlier this year, he sought to increase it to 50 percent.

Cuomo appointed the task force to make policy recommendations to him on the standards, with the Democrat to include them in his State of the State address in January. The task force’s report came the same day President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, an overhaul of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act. Cuomo and the Legislature responded by inserting a measure into the budget that banned including students’ state test scores on transcripts through 2018 and prohibited using scores as the primary factor in decisions about promotion or placement. The new law gives states and local districts more authority to decide how to fix struggling schools and whether to use test scores to evaluate teachers. The State Education Department, which reports to the Board of Regents, whose members are elected by the Legislature, switched test-makers and said it would remove some questions from the tests next year to make them shorter.

It’s a process several other states have already undertaken or begun, including Florida, where New York’s current education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, was previously a school superintendent in Tampa. Other members included SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher; American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten; and Carol Conklin-Spillane, principal of Sleepy Hollow High School in Tarrytown, Westchester County. “The revision process should be educator-driven, and expand local educator and other stakeholder input in an open and transparent manner to ensure that the standards are customized to the needs and goals of New York, not the federal government, and incorporate high expectations for every New York student,” the report reads.

Long Island has been a center of the boycott movement. “The task force heard clear and convincing evidence that the state needs to step back, review the standards for their age-appropriateness, and engage local stakeholders,” School Boards Executive Director Timothy Kremer said in a statement. “While this process plays out, we should remove any negative consequences tied to Common Core-aligned tests for students and educators.” Two people involved in making education policy said last month that the governor was pushing behind the scenes to eliminate the use of test scores in evaluations. Denerstein, the governor’s former counsel, wrote that it “would provide consistent and essential short-term protections for educators.” The Legislature passed the bill.

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