Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Jim Viola splits his time this week between lobbying the Capitol and attending and reporting on this week’s important Board of Regents meeting. See Jim’s extensive report on the Regents meeting here.
Last evening the e-mail message attached from Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch was disseminated by Senior Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner. Based on this e-mail, SAANYS is already receiving inquiries regarding the actual timeframe within which school district and BOCES collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and APPR plans must be revised to conform with the new requirements included in the new law, §3012-d. Please note that we too have just received this information and have not yet had the opportunity to discuss it with Acting Commissioner Berlin and/or other department representatives. As soon as we have such meetings, we will immediately provide you update information. In the interim, here are our thoughts:
First – We agree with the appropriateness and the need to extend the required phase-in of the new APPR system. In fact, we would submit that such an extension is as necessary for SED as it is for school districts and BOCES. We also agree with decoupling increased school aid from a due date for the implementation of the new §3012-d APPR requirements.
Second – Do NOT take the chancellor’s information at face value. I say this for three reasons:
Third – At the current time, it remains impossible to re-negotiate teachers’ collective bargaining agreements to fully conform to the new APPR requirements; and it is more impossible to re-negotiate such new requirements for school principals – because the requirements of the new APPR system are not yet fully specified. Therefore, any collective bargaining agreements established and ratified between the current time and the time when the all the necessary aspects of the new APPR system are in place should include “reopener language” such as the language that has been provided to all SAANYS negotiators.
Additional Information: Following the transmission of the message above, 10:28 am. The following additional information has come to the attention of SAANYS. Mr. Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, said, “Under existing law, SED may have a hardship exemption procedure if SED defines the process by regulation and if the hardship is genuine and due to a particular circumstance, but that is the exception not the rule.”
Provided below is a bullet point summary of selected state budget provisions related to K-12 education.
Utilization of Test Data
Individual student scores on the state 3-8 ELA and math assessments may not be placed on a students’ official transcript or maintained in a students’ permanent record, but may be used in required state and federal reporting.
Notice must be provided to parents that the 3-8 ELA and math results will not be included on official transcripts or maintained in the students’ permanent record. The above provisions expire on December 31, 2018.
Student promotion and placement decisions may not be based upon results of the state 3-8 ELA and math assessments. Such results may be a factor in such decisions, along with other measures. The promotion and placement policy shall be provided to parents annually.
Pre-K – 2 Test Ban
The commissioner is to promulgate regulations prohibiting standardized tests, but not those required by federal law or those designed to demonstrate application of knowledge and skills.
The commissioner is to promulgate regulations creating the following testing restrictions:
– State assessments may not exceed one percent of the minimum required annual instructional hours for each grade. Assessments not required by state or federal law also may not exceed one percent of the minimum required annual instructional hours for each grade.
– Test preparation for standardized tests may not exceed two percent of the minimum required annual instructional hours per grade. Teacher administered quizzes and exams are exempted from these limitations. We expect the creation of regulations that provide clarity to these provisions to be challenging.
SED is also to issue guidance on the reduction and elimination of standardized tests not required by law, and report all standardized tests that are administered, by district. Each district shall be required to post this report on its website.
Students With Disabilities/ELL
The commissioner is to issue regulations to allow students with disabilities who are not eligible for the alternate assessment to be assessed on instructional level rather than chronological age. ELL may be assessed with a state exam that measures English language development rather than the ELA exam for their first two years of enrollment.
The commissioner is required to reduce field tests, make more test questions from the 3-8 ELA and math exams available for review and to expedite review of proposed changes to APPR plans designed to reduce testing.
$340 million to fund Pre-K, $300 million of which is dedicated to New York City. Pre-K will be funded by grants awarded by SED pursuant to an application scoring system that SED is to develop. Pre-K programs must provide at least five hours of instruction per school day by certifed teachers and the programs are subject to annual inspections. Grant awards may only be used to supplement and not supplant current expenditures on Pre-K programs.
Teacher Excellence Fund
A teacher excellence fund was funded with $10 million. Districts must submit their locally negotiated plan on supplementing “highly effective” teachers with up to $20,000 to SED and DOB for approval.
The state budget contains many more educationally related items. This summary is designed to provide a quick overview of some of the more high profile items. Any questions or comments should be directed to Jim Viola, director of government relations at email@example.com.
With the grade 3-8 ELA and math tests scheduled for administration next week, we are receiving inquiries as to school requirements and options in connection with students “opting out.” This week, SAANYS met with Commissioner John King and Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz – and we included this issue in our agenda.
In introducing the discussion item, we reiterated our position that SAANYS does not endorse students opting out of the state tests. SAANYS continues to consistently and loudly assert that such testing results should NOT be used for high stakes purposes for students, teachers, and principals for a period of at least two years. However, SED officials referred to a January 2013 field memorandum issued by Steven Katz stating that there is neither a statutory nor regulatory provision/procedure that recognizes or allows for opting out. The Katz memorandum may be accessed at by clicking here. Subsequent to our meeting, SED issued a Fact Sheet – Common Core and Assessments, available by clicking here.
It is clear that some students will opt out of the upcoming state tests. SAANYS has heard of a “sit and stare” requirement that some have attributed to the State Education Department, but we were informed that this is not the case. In the end, SED leadership agreed that what school districts should do when students opt out of state testing is a matter of local policy. There is no “requirement” that students who opt out remain in the testing room with the other students who are taking the test. It is SAANYS’ position that such a procedure may be distracting to test-takers, and some may regard such a requirement to be uncomfortable for the students opting out. Based on local policy, students who opt out “may” be sent to an alternative location, or “may” remain in the test location with permission to read, or “may” be otherwise assigned. The one caveat the SED leaders provided is that the school district policy regarding students who opt out should not serve as an enticement to do so. For example, students should not be sent to the gymnasium to play.
We are also taking this opportunity to draw to your attention that, as stated on page two of the SED fact sheet document, students who complete their test early, before the allotted time expires, should check their work. A student who finishes a test early “may” be permitted to read silently. If all students complete the test earlier than the allotted time, the proctor may end the test session.
We hope that you will find this information helpful. We will continue to keep you updated and – we wish you and your students all the best for a successful test administration…Jim Viola
On Monday March 24, the State Education Department sent a letter to school superintendents pertaining to the administration of state tests scheduled for administration to students in grades 3 to 8.
Commissioner King’s letter includes a link to access the 3-8 test schedule, including administration dates, make-up dates, scoring dates, and dates for the submission of answer sheets. However, the overriding theme of the commissioner’s letter is an encouragement for schools to communicate with teachers, parents, and students to correct misinformation to help them better understand “how the assessments help us better identify student strengths and needs and better support the growth of classroom teachers.” It is the commissioner’s expectation that such communication will alleviate stress and frustration among students and teachers.
The information released by SED does not address the matter of students opting out of state testing. However, when SED sent material on March 23, in preparation for a SAANYS-SED meeting held on March 25 under the heading Information on Student Participation in State Assessments, a link was included to access a January 2013 memorandum issued by Steven Katz. The memorandum states: “With the exception of certain areas in which parental consent is required, such as Committee on Special Education (CSE) evaluations for students with disabilities and certain federally-funded surveys and analyses specified under the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (see 20 U.S.C. 1232h), there is no provision in statute or regulation allowing parents to opt their children out of state tests. The failure to comply with the requirements provided above will have a negative impact on a school or school district’s accountability, as all schools are required to have a 95 percent participation rate in state testing.”
Download Commissioner King’s letter.
The New York State Board of Regents met in Albany on March 10 and 11. Two discussion items were the main topics of the meeting:
K-12 Social Studies Framework
A panel of seven members of the Social Studies Content Advisory Panel explained that although the framework has been aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), it maintains the standards statements from the existing 1996 NYS Learning Standards for Social Studies. The framework includes Key Ideas, Conceptual Understandings, and Content Specifications, for each grade level.
Based on information released by the National Council for Social Studies, the New York Framework has been enhanced with the incorporation of the “Inquiry Arc” – an approach to increase rigor through questions and planned inquiries that apply disciplinary concepts and tools, evaluate sources, and use evidence to communicate conclusions and take informed action. The advisory panel also recommended a Global History and Geography split, with Global History and Geography I (Grade 9) beginning with the Paleolithic Era and continuing to a period of global interactions from approximately 1400 to 1750. Global History and Geography II (Grade 10) would begin with a snapshot of the world in 1750.
The framework draft is posted on the SED website for public comment, and will be presented as an action item at the Regents’ April meeting. Upon adoption of the framework, the Content Advisory Panel will begin development of a Social Studies Field Guide, including instructional resources and strategies, shifts in social studies instruction, and guidance and examples for leveraging key ideas. The framework Regents item included no information or recommendations regarding possible revisions of state testing or graduation requirements.
Deputy Commissioner Kenneth Wagner presented an initial discussion item regarding science standards. He summarized initial public feedback to a SED survey issued in April 2013 seeking recommendations whether to revise current NYS Science Learning Standards or to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards developed by the National Research Council. (The NGSS standards may be accessed at http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards.) The deputy commissioner said that there is a clear need for more engineering and mathematics content in science standards. Wagner also indicated that a science strategic plan is also under development to guide planning and implementation if the Board of Regents determines to adopt new science standards, update existing standards, or develop a hybrid set of standards.
Regent Betty Rosa expressed that the Washington D.C. Fordham Institute, an organization that strongly supports CCLS, gave the common core-aligned science standards a “C.” She went on to explain that the Institute gave the standards from 12 states a “superior” rating. Rather than considering only two options, she recommended that New York State also consider standards from other states. Also, Regent Roger Tilles recommended that art be added to the science standards –STEAM, not STEM.
During the second day of the Regents’ meeting several members signaled their tension and frustration with regard to public recognition of their efforts – and successes – in rolling-out the various planks of their education reform agenda. Several board members recommended that the department develop a public relations document to summarize what has been done and to recognize implementation successes. In discussing recommendations from institutions of higher education and teacher candidates to postpone the high stakes aspects of the Ed TPA examination requirement for teacher certification/licensure (due to a 70 percent pass rate), Regent James Tallon said, “We’re being picked-off one issue at a time … We are under attack.” In his remarks at the opening of the full board meeting, Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar said, “This is a challenging time to serve on this board. There are many distractions; it is imperative for us to stay focused.”
The Regents’ frustration no doubt extended to actions to be taken by the state legislature later that same day – voting upon four Regent appointments: at-large appointment currently held by Wade Norwood; at-large appointment currently held by James Cottrell, Judicial District XIII (Richmond), appointment currently held by Christine Cea; and Judicial District III (Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, Schoharie, Ulster, Sullivan), appointment currently held by James Jackson. The continuation of incumbent Regents was not assured as almost two dozen candidates were nominated by legislators and many members of the legislature attribute the flawed roll-out of CCLS, at least in part, to the Board of Regents. In the end, Regent Jackson resigned his position and was replaced by Victoria Finn. In the end, the three Regents who were up for reelection – James Cottrell, Wade Norwood, and Christine Cea, were all reelected by significant margins.
On February 26, the SAANYS Government Relations Committee (GRC) was joined by the NYS Federation of School Administrators representing the New York City, Buffalo and Yonkers city school districts for a Lobby Day. During the morning, three teams visited 15 legislators and Governor Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary for Education, Ian Rosenblum. During the afternoon the entire delegation met with Commissioner King, and Deputy Commissioners Ken Slentz and Ken Wagner where discussion principally evolved around the State Education Department’s ESEA Waiver Application, English Language Learner Blue Print, and adjustment options to Common Core Learning Standards.
Meetings in the Legislative Office Building and State Capitol focused on four issues:
State School Aid for 2014 – Years of state aid cuts, the enactment of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) and frozen Foundation Aid, coupled with the property tax cap have resulted in many school districts in fiscal stress, districts that are educationally insolvent, and districts planning for how they will be out of compliance with mandates in a manner that does the least harm to students. More than 30,000 educators have been laid-off over the past five years – proportionately more administrators than teachers – and the governor’s proposed state aid increase of 3.8 percent ($807 million) will result in more cuts of personnel and programs. According to calculations completed by the Education Conference Board (ECB) $1.5 billion is needed to maintain the status quo. We strongly recommended an increase of $1.9 billion. Our delegation described the cuts that have already been implemented in their respective districts, their state aid increase (or decrease) based of the proposed Executive Budget, and the additional cuts that would accrue if the governor’s proposed budget is enacted. The teams recommended that other proposed programs – full-day prekindergarten, after school Programs, P-TECH, and the Teacher Excellence Fund – should NOT be funded if they would reduce the allocation for school operating aid.
Lobbying teams also discussed the proposed Two-year tax cap freeze – which would be tantamount to a Vote No Proposition. This proposal would be harmful to schools and students, and exacerbate the inequality of educational opportunities district-to-district already resulting from the property tax cap. (Under the current property tax cap, the wealthiest school districts raise more than seven times the revenue of the poorest school districts (source: ECB). It will also pit homeowners against schools, and place school leaders in a no-win situation; reducing the possibility of mustering the 60 percent supermajority needed to exceed the tax cap (1.46 percent for 2014), or attempting an override of the tax cap (asking tax payers to pay more taxes and forego rebates) and running the very real risk the budget will be rejected, resulting in a $0 increase in local revenue. The refrain of expecting schools to do more with less – will in the end, result in less educators, less programs and services, and fewer students graduating college and career ready .
Common Core – Lobby teams recommended that New York State continue to phase-in Common Core Learning Standards, curricula, instructional materials, and pedagogy – following ECB’s five recommendations: Build common understanding across stakeholders, invest in professional development, ensure adequate funding, reassess the State Education Department’s approach to student testing, and engage key stakeholders in reviewing and refining implementation. The teams also recommended continuation to implement common core-aligned tests in grades 3 to 8, but the results of such testing should be used as an indicator to gauge the extent successful phase-in. There should be a “pause” or a “moratorium” on the use of 3 to 8 test results ensuring they are NOT for any high stakes purposes for students, teachers, or principals. SAANYS supports Senate Bill 6009, by John Flanagan / Assembly Bill 8356, by Catherine Nolan that would require a comprehensive independent audit to determine the validity, appropriateness, and application of common core test results – including the duration of the “pause” or “moratorium.”
During the course of meetings with state legislators, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan asked that James Viola, from SAANYS; Peter McNally, from NYSFSA; and Mark Cannizzaro, from CSA meet with staff attorneys from her office for a detailed discussion regarding the Common Core Learning Standards recommendations detailed above.
Dignity of All Students Act – The Executive Budget amendments will not further safeguard students – there is no change in the definition of harassment, bullying, discrimination and cyberbullying; no change in the student characteristics protected; no change in scope and circumstances of protection (i.e., definition of School Property). The proposal is a heavy-handed, inappropriate approach to punish principals who fail to “promptly” complete investigations of alleged harassment, bullying, or discrimination and to report a “pattern” of harassment, bullying or discrimination of which they knew or “should have known” in a “timely” manner. The proposal would:
1. Establish vague requirements with harsh penalties – How long is a timely investigation? How is it determined what an individual should have known? What constitutes a pattern? What does timely mean? These questions are important when your career is on-the-line.
2. Shift from §3020-a to §306 –
§306 specifies the bases and procedures for “removal of school officers.” It applies to a trustee, board of education member, clerk collector, treasurer, district superintendent, superintendent of schools, or other school officer. A school principal does NOT fall within the definition of public officer. The hearing is conducted by the commissioner of education, who may order the removal of the school officer from his or her office.
3. The principal or superintendent must “promptly” report any verified pattern of harassment, bullying, or discrimination to the commissioner, the Division of Human Rights, and the Division of State Police.
Reporting requirements are currently specified in Sections 13.1.i and 15. The broader reporting of material incidents/patterns contemplated in the Executive Budget may be accommodated.
4. SAANYS is supportive of services and DASA revisions that will better protect students and educators. For this reason, we recommend that SED make available guidance and professional development, and we also recommend a state school aid increase of $1.9 billion to reinstate some of the counseling personnel who have been cut.
Special Education Waivers – SAANYS supports the establishment of a procedure for a variance from provisions in 4402 and 4403, along with concomitant regulations. The quality of special education services would be ensured as such waivers are required to be “innovative” and consistent with federal requirements. Parents would be involved in the waiver process, culminating in review and approval by SED, and followed by annual reports by the school district/BOCES. This proposal may produce meaningful special education mandate relief, which may later be scaled-up through broader implementation.
On Wednesday, February 19, SAANYS was called along with the other six organizations comprising the Education Conference Board (ECB) to present testimony and answer questions from the Common Core Implementation Panel in regard to Common Core implementation. John Yagielski, ECB Chairperson, presented testimony on the behalf of the seven ECB organizations, expressing support of the common core concept with the proviso that five additional actions must be implemented to support successful transition:
1. Statewide campaign to build a common understanding
2. Investment in professional development
3. Ensure adequate funding
4. Reassess and revise the state’s approach to student assessment
5. Establish a process of ongoing review and refinement
Five others also presented testimony to the Panel:
All those presenting testimony expressed support for the common core standards – some much more effusively than others. (It appears to some that panel members may have been selected partly due to their positive predisposition in this regard.) So too was there general agreement about the need for better communication and more professional development. In addressing the panel, I pointed out that there appears to be general agreement that teachers have not received the professional development and support needed for successful common core implementation, and that such professional development and support is even more lacking for school principals and other school administrators. In terms of benchmarking, several presenters cited Tennessee and Kentucky as states that “got it right.”
The Governor’s panel is chaired by Stanley Litow, IBM International Foundation. Other panel members are:
The Panel is next scheduled to meet on March 5, 2014, and the focus areas will be frequency of student testing and standardized testing in K-2. In delivering his closing remarks for the meeting, Mr. Litow did not indicate a target date for the release of the Panel’s report and recommendations. We hope that you will find this information helpful. We will keep you updated. All the best. …Jim Viola
On February 10 and 11 the State Board of Regents met in Albany. Clearly, the matter garnering the greatest interest at this meeting was an action item including the report, The Path Forward: Common Core Learning Standards, Assessments, and Teacher & Principal Evaluation in New York State. The report is based upon the first three and a half years of Common Core implementation, and sets forth “Adjustment Options” to improve statewide implementation. The report was issued by a Regents Work Group comprised of Regents Robert Bennett, from Tonawanda; James Dawson, from Plattsburgh; James Tallon, from Binghamton; Roger Tilles, from Great Neck; Kathleen Cashin, from Brooklyn; and Wade Norwood, from Rochester, who served as chairperson.
The Regents report includes 19 Adjustment Options. Some of the Adjustment Options were in progress under other initiatives, before the report was issued. Option 6, allow students with severe disabilities to be assessed based on instructional level rather than chronological age; and Option 7, allow English language learners to be assessed via the language acquisition tests (NYSESLAT) rather the English language arts exam for two years are included in the department’s ESEA Waiver Application.
For some of the Adjustment Options, the Board of Regents place the responsibility for implementation in the hands of other entities.
Some of the Adjustment Options may be expected to have significant impact, and others are expected to have little or no impact.
Moreover, up to the present time, the State Education Department has been adamant that APPRs must be a significant factor in employment decisions. Now, the Regents item states that the department advises districts “…to be judicious in considering data when making employment decisions during the (common core) transition period.”
Some of the Adjustment Options raise other questions.
Several Regents members expressed frustration that they did not have sufficient time to carefully read the item prior to the meeting due to the late release of the item Sunday night. In fact, Regent Rosa reported that some Regents did not have the opportunity to read the report at all prior to the meeting. The item was passed, despite Regents Rosa, Cashin and Cea voting in opposition.
For more information regarding the Board of Regents’ adjustments to Common Core implementation, contact James Viola, Director of Government Relations, at JViola@saanys.org.
– See more at: http://www.saanys.org/viewarticle.asp?id=3908#sthash.dSuODMxj.dpuf