The month of December has brought with it a dramatic shift in thinking in regard to education policy for both the nation and New York State. Is this a response to the feedback and pushback from school administrators, teachers, and parents? Quite possibly, and most likely, yes.
SAANYS supports the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and although it is not perfect, SAANYS is pleased with the shift in values and direction. We support returning more decision-making to the states, and encourage our state leaders to in turn seek the guidance of local educators as we work to raise opportunity and achievement for all of New York’s students.
We are pleased to see many of the initiatives that SAANYS has advocated for included in the final reauthorization law, such as the removal of federally prescribed evaluation systems tied to student test scores; additional Title II grants to support professional growth for principals and other school leaders; and Title ll support in reading and writing for high-need, under-performing schools (under the LEARN program). However, SAANYS strongly supported the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act, which was not incorporated into the new ESSA law. This House bill would have discontinued the requirement for annual testing, and instead would have required ELA and mathematics testing at least once in grades 3 to 5, 6 to 9, and 10 to 12.
With the recommendations from the governor’s Common Core Task Force, followed by the release of SED’s own Common Core Survey results, we hope that the winds of change are truly blowing in a more constructive direction. The recommended, and Regents approved, moratorium to exclude state tests from professional evaluations is strongly supported by SAANYS. Principals and other school administrators have long recognized the folly of tying professional evaluations to student test scores, especially when those test scores are derived from new curriculum and unsound tests.
SAANYS again stresses the necessity for any new state standards, curriculum, and student exams to be developed with significant input from New York State field educators. The failure to involve those who work with our students, who know their strengths and challenges, who know their communities, will only result in a repeat of the failed laws and regulations that are now being “rebooted.”