Regents Discuss APPR and Failing / Persistently Failing Schools

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On Monday and Tuesday, the State Board of Regents was presented “discussion items” related to regulations to be promulgated pursuant to §3012-d (new APPR requirements) and §211-f (Failing Schools and Persistently Failing Schools). In regard to both of these items, Board members expressed consternation with the insufficient timeline for the promulgation of APPR regulations, and what they considered to be over-stepping by the Executive and Legislative branches – Regent Ouderkirk spoke of the responsibility of the Board of Regents for the general supervision of all educational activities in the state, and of the need to separate policy from politics.

Annual Professional Performance Reviews:  For your information, the 57-page slide deck presented at the Board of Regents meeting is attached. Right now, we are in the process of scheduling a follow-up meeting with SED leadership, for next week, to discuss regulations. According to Senior Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner, the department received approximately 3,000 comments/recommendation from organizations and individuals. The letter sent by Executive Director Kevin Casey, containing SAANYS’ comments and recommendations is posted here. Some observations about the slide deck follow:

  • Senior Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner expressed that the department plans to establish Hardship Extension procedures  so that extensions will be approved two months at a time.
  • SED will not provide a “Default APPR Plan,” but does plan to provide a “Model Plan” for consideration.
  • Regent Kathleen Cashin, followed by other members of the Board, expressed that the “HEDI” cutpoints proposed by the department for performance are too high. She felt that they should reflect the reality of current performance against the common core standards, and gradually adjust the cutpoints over time.
  • In order to extend flexibility in regard to independent observer requirements, “outside the building” will be determined by BEDS codes.
  • The prohibition regarding the placement of a student for two successive years with teachers rated ineffective will not be operational until the new APPR system (§3012-d) is operational for two years.
  • Only one page in the deck (page 33) includes information specifically relating to principals.

In regard to the current Growth Score methodology, Regent Betty Rosa recalled information shared by Stephen Caldas a panelist at the State Education Department’s May 7 APPR Summit – that there is an error rate up to 55 percent – and described using such a methodology as being analogous to using an “experimental drug.” She rhetorically asked, “If it’s so flawed, how do we know we have identified the right or the wrong people?”  It should also be noted that SED will establish two advisory groups over the summer months: one focused on next generation tests and one focused on next generation metrics. In terms of the latter, for the determination of “growth,” the department is  interested in the possible establishment of a criterion-based model rather than the current normative model. But for 2015-16, the current Growth Score methodology will remain operational.

SAANYS is continuing to work not only with SED, but with the legislature as well, in order to bring about a legislative solution (i.e., time extension and programmatic revisions) the current statutory dilemma. As it stands  now, it appears that two APPR systems will be operational in 2015-16: §3012-c (the current APPR system) and §3012-d (the governor’s APPR system).

The State Education Department has scheduled a separate meeting, on May 27, to present more detailed information regarding requirements and funding opportunities in connection with Failing Schools and Persistently Failing Schools. SAANYS has been invited to attend this meeting, and additional information will be disseminated shortly after the meeting.