The state Board of Regents, under pressure from teachers unions, parents, and a state legislature that’s threatening to override part of their authority, agreed to delay until 2022 the full implementation of tests aligned with the new Common Core learning standards, and to change the evaluation systems so it would be almost impossible to fire a teacher whose students turned in poor test scores on standardized tests.
Beside the summary Regents released on Monday, Feb. 10, I read the full report of their 19 changes to the implementation entitled Adjustment Options to Common Core Implementation, (pdf) and below is my summary. The report looks like it makes significant changes, but ultimately makes very small adjustments.
The only adjustment to the Common Core is to periodically review the learning standards. Everything else is perfect with the modules.
They want to provide schools with “equitable” funding for professional development. The residents have an opportunity to ask the BOE what the state considers “equitable” funding, what the amount was last year and what it will be in the upcoming year. (The budget meetings started on Tue., 2/11).
The requirement to pass Common Core-based Regents exams at the college and career ready level (75 and 80%) will be extended. The class of 2022 will be the first to face the new higher graduation requirements. There is also a paragraph entitled “Eliminate high stakes for students.” That sounds great, but what high stakes tests will it eliminate. The SED advises districts not to make placement or promotion decisions based on these tests. So no reduction in tests or test prep. They are still going to give the same tests, same content, same class time used. No difference. There is one very positive change. Students with severe disabilities will be tested at instructional level rather than grade level, but only if the state gets a federal waiver. There also will be accommodations for ESL students. Tests will be translated.
The Regentd reiterated their December decision to not administer any standardized tests at the elementary level (K–2). They will expedite the review of APPR plan amendments where the changes reduce or eliminate unnecessary testing. So the Regents are saying “blame your school district, if there are too many tests.”
Teacher and Principal Evaluation
There will be “no unfair negative consequences to teachers and principals” resulting from student performance on Common Core assessments administered in the 2012–13 and/or 2013–14 school years. This point became an issue on Tuesday, as this WNYC article reports. The board of Regents tabled a final decision on teacher evaluations until April. Governor Cuomo accused the board of “stalling” teacher evaluations, and suggested the board and the state Department of Education should be under his control.
Any adjustments relate to students with disabilities. They want to “ensure IEPs are appropriate to student needs” and “issue guidelines for Committees on Special Education”.
In conclusion, no changes will be made to the Common Core learning standards, the amount of time used for teaching to and taking the state Math and ELA tests, and no real change in APPR. The students scores are the paramount of the educational model. The delaying tactics may appease some politicians and parents, but I foresee a higher number of refusals of state assessments than last year.