Latest News: NAEP, Tisch, APPR, & Poll Numbers

NAEP

The latest NAEP scores were released this morning and, as rumored, they show declines (the first time scores went down since this testing began in 1990). And, as predicted, reformer types are denying that there could be any connection to Common Core, testing, etc. Again, the hypocrisy is stunning.  As Carol Burris writes: The very folks who gleefully hold public schools accountable based on scores, evade using them to evaluate their own pet policies. For those of us who had first row seats to the disruption and chaos they have caused, we have one simple message—no excuses.” For a great explanation of what this all means, read her whole post in this article in The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet.

Merryl Tisch Stepping Down

Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the NY Board of Regents announced that she would not be seeking reelection when her term comes up in March (presumably to pursue a role in the Harry Potter musical). Tischrecently spoke out against the Governor’s teacher evaluation plan, somehow ignoring the fact that much of the plan mirrors her own proposals.(clearly she should have been included as a contender for theOrwell Awards). While her loss may be a welcome change, it really will depend on who takes her place as Chancellor (Roger Tilles is said to be a contender), and  who is elected to fill the vacant seat. Just another reminder of how important it is that every teacher get out and vote next week. Legislators need to know that we are paying attention and that we are involved.

APPR Update

SWR is one of 420 districts statewide that was granted a waiver extending the deadline for submitting a new APPR plan. The waiver is for four months, at which point districts can seek another waiver which, if granted, would result in the new APPR regulations not taking effect until the 2016/17 school year. The Board of Regents recently announced that they will “form a panel” to “consider improvements” to the APPR plan. It’s nice that there is attention being paid to this, but the main issues with APPR are baked into the law and all the panels and considerations in the world won’t make any difference if the legislature doesn’t act to undo what they’ve done.

Poll Numbers

The Sienna Poll released on Monday makes it clear that New Yorkers are not enamored of Common Coreor Governor Cuomo.

  • Only 30% of New Yorkers feel that Common Core will have a positive effect on education, while 54% say it will have a negative effect or no effect
  • Just 20% of New Yorkers say the implementation has made education better, while 61% say it has had no impact or made things worse.
  • As far as the Governor’s handling of education, just 27% approve while 68% disapprove (this is far bigger than his overall approval gap, which is still pretty awful: 40/58)

These dreadful numbers clearly show why Cuomo launched the Common Core Review panel. It also explains the surprise announcement that Jere Hochman, Superintendent of Bedford Schools and an outspoken critic of the Common Core, was appointed to a position within the Cuomo cabinet.

What it all Means

There’s been a huge amount of movement recently – Cuomo’s commission and the Hochman appointment, Obama’s statements about over-testing, the Regents panel, Tisch stepping down. Most education blogs look at every one of these things as lipstick on a pig, designed just to deflect attention and keep the reform movement alive.

But even if all these announcements are nothing more than window dressing, the fact that the reformers even feel a need to put them out there is saying something in and of itself. They are feeling the pressure. An article in Salon posits that Obama’s comments, such as “learning is about so much more than filling in the right bubble,” and that testing “takes the joy out of teaching and learning” can be seen as a serious crack in the wall of the reform movement.  This is an important point. Reformers may be hoping to throw a few bones at the general public in the hopes of putting the brakes on the opt-out movement and making them look like they’re listening (and making teachers look like we’re just inflexible). We can’t let them get away with it – we need to be active (e.g. voting, making calls, being vocal, etc) and we need to be united. Not only have we not lost this fight, but we may have a critical opportunity here, and we can’t afford to let it go.

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