How would you like 50% or more of your child's teacher's performance evaluation to depend on one test?
It is common sense that a teacher’s "rating" should be determined by reviewing the long-term progress of his or her students.
That will not happen if the current emergency measures in place are made permanent.
There is wide agreement that a comprehensive method to evaluate teachers' performance is necessary; for much of the past year, New York's teacher evaluation plan has been a central concern of parents and educators.
The Education Transformation Act of 2015 specifically directed the NYS Education Department to consult with experts in education, economics and psychometrics before formulating a plan for evaluation teachers.
Nonetheless, last June, the Board of Regents, the state's ultimate policy makers for education, approved a temporary 90-day teacher evaluation plan that placed more weight than ever before on standardized tests roughly 50% and in some cases, 100% -- despite protests from parents, school administrators, and statisticians.
This test-heavy plan threatens to continue to put pressure on teachers to spend more time on tested subjects like math and English, and less on the rest, like science, social studies, art, etc. Teachers will be forced to "teach to the test". That is not fair to the teachers or to our children.
On Wednesday, September 16, the Board of Regents begins the process of voting upon whether to make its temporary 90-day teacher evaluation plan permanent.
We ask that you consider the implications of the Board's vote, and then consider signing the petition below to ask the Regents to vote "no."
The June vote on the temporary plan was 11 yes to 6 no; we hope that with enough parent voices this plan will be defeated, and a better, research-based plan that doesn’t pose a threat to our children’s education will be created and adopted instead.
Please consider signing the petition at
to encourage the New York State Board of Regents to vote against raising the weight of standardized tests in teachers' evaluations to their highest levels ever.
The PTSA/PTA presidents of Irvington, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, and Hastings-on-Hudson have written an open letter to residents of those communities that will be published in the next issue of The Enterprise. The letter addresses concerns with education decisions being made at the state level, and how those decisions are negatively impacting students.
Please read the letter here: Letter from PTSA Presidents or below, then please take a moment to sign the petition at http://irvptsa.org.
Our villages of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings on Hudson, and Irvington, are in large part defined by the high quality education provided by our public schools. As many are aware, the education landscape in our state has shifted dramatically over the last five years. Underfunded state mandates, over-testing and a redirection of our state taxes dedicated to education have had huge impacts on our local public school system.
As the presidents of our four villages' Parent Teacher Associations, we want to draw your attention to two major concerns occurring at the state level and ask you to join our letter writing campaign to address these critical issues.
The first issue has to do with fully restoring state aid to NY public schools. In the midst of the recent recession and a gap in New York State budget, millions of dollars of tax money that was previously dedicated to education was instead redirected to the state overall budget. This maneuver, called the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), was used to avoid a budget shortfall. Now as the Governor prepares a new state budget to be announced in January, the state has a projected $5 billion surplus. Many interest groups will lay claim to that money, but it should be restored to our students. Furthermore, in light of the budget surplus, the GEA should be eliminated in future budget considerations.
The second issue is about over-testing our kids. Currently, our students face many hours of state tests. Now the state wants to add more. The state is considering mandated stand-alone tests for our students with the sole purpose of trying out potential questions for future state tests. We do not believe that Pearson, the test development company already paid over $30 million by New York state, should shift the company's research and development onto the backs of our students. We want to send a strong message to the NY State Regents to vote against mandating NY school districts to give unnecessary field tests to students.
We believe that collectively we can make a strong impact, but we need your help. Please go to irvptsa.org to sign a letter to Governor Cuomo and our state legislators or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently our Irvington 3rd - 8th grade students took the new New York State mandated English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams. We are very concerned by widespread reports of deep flaws in these new tests, including testing above grade level, tests that are far too long, and the promotion of specific commercial products or brands.
Despite these reported flaws, the state refuses to release the full tests for public review. The state imposed restrictions on teachers and administrators, threatening harsh consequences if they speak about the specifics of the tests. (For example: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/opinion/the-problem-with-the-common-core.html? _r=0.)
With the tests kept from the public, these challenges cannot be addressed and resolved. On a more basic level, parents cannot even request that a child's test be checked for scoring accuracy. Frankly, the State Education Department (SED) is avoiding any effort to be transparent regarding the NYS testing. Our children are therefore risk being victims of potentially unjust assessments that could have negative impacts on them and on our school district.
These tests have serious consequences: they may impact whether a child receives AIS (Academic Intervention Services) and whether our teachers can retain their jobs. The tests also determine whether a school is deemed to be performing poorly, which can affect funding to our school district.
This last consequence can also reduce property values since a poor school rating can make a town less desirable to new buyers.
Until 2011, complete ELA and math tests were all routinely made public, with the full tests and scoring keys posted on the state's website, nysedregents.org.
Now only a small percentage of questions, selected by the state, are released. Withholding this critical information limits parents' understanding of their child's results and hinders teachers' ability to assess how they can support their students’ growth.
If you agree that full transparency should be reinstated and that the tests should be made fully public again, please click here and sign the form letter. The letter will then automatically be sent to the following government leaders:
Governor Andrew Cuomo
Commissioner of Education John King
Board of Regents
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch
Our State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
State Senator & Chair of Education Committee John Flanagan
State Senator Jeffrey Klein
State Senator Kenneth LaValle
State Senator Dean Skelos
Our Assemblyman Tom Abinanti
Assemblywoman & Chair of Education Committee Catherine Nolan
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
“Runaway Reform: State of Public Education in New York State”
Thursday, January 23 at 7:00 pm,
Ardsley Middle School Auditorium
Please come hear our exciting panel of Public Education Advocates talk about recent education reforms, the impact on our students and our schools, and actions you can take as a concerned parent, community member and tax-payer.
The New York Suburban Consortium for Public Education (formerly the Lower Westchester Education Consortium) and the New York State Allies for Public Education are very proud to present:
Dr. Kenneth Mitchell is the President of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents. Dr. Mitchell has been chairman of the group’s committee studying unfunded mandates (the many state rules and regulations that force school districts to raise and spend property taxes). Last year, Dr, Mitchell wrote a comprehensive paper for the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz that broke out the costs of the new reforms for public school districts. He’s been a strong voice of caution regarding the many reforms now changing the shape of public education in NY State, including the teacher-evaluation system, the new tests tied to the Common Core learning standards, and the planned on-line state tests.
Dr.Carol Burris is the Principal of South Side High School in New York. Dr Burris’s columns appear regularly on The Answer Sheet, a public education blog for The Washington Post. She was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals and, in 2010, was tapped as the New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is the co-author of the NY Principals’ letter of concern, signed by over 1,535 principals in our state, regarding the evaluation of teachers by student test scores.
Leonie Haimson is Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a non-profit parent advocacy group working for smaller class sizes in NYC and the nation as a whole. She was a public school parent for 15 years, co-founded Parents Across America, and is a board member of the Network for Public Education, a national organization started by Diane Ravitch. She led the first advocacy group in the nation to sound the alarm about inBloom’s plan to create a multi-state database to be stored on a vulnerable data cloud and has been called “the nation’s foremost parent expert on inBloom and the current threat to student data privacy.”
Bianca Tanis is a Hudson Valley parent and educator. As a parent of a child with a disability and a special education teacher, she is particularly concerned about the devastating effects that the current education reforms have on students with disabilities. Bianca Tanis holds a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Master's degrees in elementary and special education. She currently works as an elementary school special education teacher and is a co-founder of the advocacy group New York State Allies for Public Education.
Please RSVP on Facebook: Runaway Reform: State of Public Education in New York State.
Education Committee Hearings
Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District), Chairman of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education, announced that the Education Committee will be holding a series of hearings to review the impact and effectiveness of recent state education reforms.
The hearings will be held throughout the State at the beginning of the school year with the first to be held on Long Island in September. Following that meeting, Senator Flanagan will convene additional meetings in central and upstate New York and New York City. For more information on this topic, go to http://www.nysenate.gov/committee/education.