This system has too many flaws in it,” stressed Regent Jackson before casting her vote of “no” on the approval of new APPR regulations at the September 16 Board of Regents (BOR) meeting. In the end, the new regulations (Section 3012-d) passed with ten Regents voting yes to approve the new regulations and six dissenters.
The vote was not without considerable debate, and overall most Regents agreed with Jackson’s comments that the principal and teacher evaluation system was indeed very flawed, even with the proposed amendments that will now go out for public comment. A number of Regents who voted in favor of the new regulations did so noting considerable trepidation over the possible loss of state funding for districts. Regent Tilles in particular, while voting yes on the regulations, also called for a vote of no confidence in the evaluation system – a process he termed “civil disobedience.” While the full board did not agree on a vote of no confidence, there was agreement that a statement or resolution will come from Commissioner MaryEllen Elia outlining concerns (“VAM should never have been used for teacher evaluations,” said Regent Collins) and a commitment to carefully review not only the APPR system, but the Common Core Standards and assessments as well. The developmental appropriateness of both the standards and assessments for the early grade levels was mentioned as a point of particular focus. Chancellor Tisch said that this review process would solicit considerable input from practitioners and parents, with online options for providing feedback.
Before the vote, Executive Deputy Commissioner Berlin outlined a few noteworthy modifications from Section 3012-c to the new Section 3012-d regulations. As a result of these modifications, the regulations will again go out for public comment and will be brought back to the BOR for permanent adoption in November. Those changes, which Berlin said are in response to public comment, include:
- Independent Evaluator Waiver: SED may grant an annual hardship waiver to the independent evaluator requirement to rural school districts (as defined by the commissioner in guidance) or single building school districts. Consideration for such a waiver will be based on the size and limited resources of the district and its inability to find an independent evaluator within a reasonable proximity.
- Appeals Process for Educators: In light of concerns from the field, SED has also decided to re-examine the state growth model. In the interim, Subparts 30-2 and 30-3 have been amended to prescribe an appeals process for a teacher or principal to challenge their state-provided growth score, in certain limited circumstances.
Details and examples on the appeals process, and other “technical” changes to the regulations were outlined by Berlin in her presentation slides found here: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/meetings/APPR_0.pdf.
Chancellor Tisch addressed issues surrounding the grades 3-8 state assessments. She stressed, as did the commissioner later in the day, that in addition to the change of providers from Pearson to Questar, others changes are underway as well, in addition to the review mentioned above. The length of both the ELA and math exams will be shortened as of this year so they are “not unduly long”; the new contract with Questar will “double” the number of teachers involved in test development; and next year will see the full release of test questions, rather than the 50 percent released this year.
There was considerable debate over the first year of receivership under the district superintendent. Are the superintendents being given direction, guidance? Are there parameters for the additional aid going to these schools? Is it wise to give so much decision-making authority to a struggling system? Can communication with the local school boards be increased? Regent Cashin in particular was, “concerned about the looseness of this.” Commissioner Elia confirmed that SED is committed to supporting receivership districts by providing effective models and other assistance to receivership schools and their superintendents. The emergency regulations on school receivership must again go out for public comment due to two changes that were implemented based on the last release for public comment:
- The definition of a Persistently Struggling School found in section 100.19(a)(2) has been revised to parallel the language of Education Law §211-f(1)(b).
- In order to conform to Education Law §211-f(8), section 100.19(5)(iii) has been revised to provide that collective bargaining shall be completed (instead of commenced) no later than 30 days following receipt of a written request from the school receiver.
View the full presentation on receivership here: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/meetings//SchoolReceivershipPresentation.pdf
Emergency action extending the flexibility to school districts in the provision of Academic Intervention Services through the 2015-16 school year, as was done in the two previous school years, was approved, with dissenting votes from Regents Rosa, Jackson, and Collins, all of whom expressed concern about cutting AIS services to needy students based on a district’s fiscal ability to provide the services. The emergency rule will take effect on September 17, 2015, for a 90-day period. It is anticipated that the proposed amendment will be presented for adoption as a permanent rule at the December Regents meeting, Read the full memo here: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/meetings/Sep%202015/915p12a1.pdf
Graduation and diploma options for special education students were discussed, with an overall conclusion that further, more meaningful graduation options and credentials need to be explored. The chancellor and commissioner also discussed the exploration of extending school time and year and other extended uses for school buildings, noting that related budgetary factors exist. The BOR also formally adopted regulations requiring New York’s high schools to offer their students lessons in cardiovascular resuscitation. The new regulations, part of legislation approved last year, go into effect Oct. 7 and also call for lessons in the use of automated external defibrillators.
Appointment of SED Senior Staff:
Jhone Ebert appointed senior deputy commissioner; Cheryl Atkinson appointed assistant commissioner for the office of innovation and school reform; Angelica Infante-Green appointed deputy commissioner for the Office of P-12 Instructional Support; Charles Szuberla appointed associate commissioner for the Office of P-12 School Services; and Lissette Colon-Collins has been appointed as assistant commissioner for the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages.
Teacher of the Year:
The BOR announced that Dana McDonough has been named the 2016 New York State Teacher of the Year. McDonough is a second grade teacher at the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. Read press release here: