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state education department
May 2, 2018
New York state education department officials weigh in on plan to overhaul teacher evaluations
State education department officials thanked the sponsors of the legislation but warned of “unintended consequences.”
let the games begin
Updated April 27, 2018
Here’s where the key players stand in New York’s renewed teacher evaluation battle
In order to explain the behind-the-scenes teacher evaluations dynamics, we broke down where each player stands.
January 18, 2018
Personal data of 52 New York students is compromised after testing-company breach
The breach is likely to fuel the already widespread opposition among parents and educators to the state standardized exams in New York.
Show me the money
November 13, 2017
How should New York spend billions in education funds? Top policymakers start to give their answer.
A main focus of their preliminary requests is the major new school-improvement plan they were required to create under federal law.
September 1, 2017
After blasting Success’s board chair, Chancellor Rosa to visit Success Academy on first day of school
This follows recent friction between the State Education Department and SUNY, Success's authorizer, and sometimes Success Academy itself.
the new deal
May 8, 2017
New York state says it wants to expand its definition of success — and focus on equity — in judging schools
New York education officials have said they hope to capitalize on the Every Student Succeeds Act – and framed that choice as a statement of values.
Equity and ESSA
January 27, 2017
Famed researcher Linda Darling-Hammond on the future of New York education — and what she makes of Betsy DeVos
An influential education researcher, who has been helping New York implement ESSA, spells out how the state can focus on equity under the new law.
January 18, 2017
Cuomo’s budget includes three-year extension of mayoral control, boost for charter and community schools
Here’s a breakdown of some of the K-12 items on Cuomo’s agenda.
January 13, 2017
Four education storylines to watch as New York kicks off its 2017 legislative session
We'll be following the governor's efforts to provide free college tuition, an upcoming battle about school funding, and plans to boost after-school programs.
ask the legislature
December 13, 2016
Education officials present multimillion-dollar wish list, including funding for English learners and new assessments
The largest sums of funding requested would go to developing new native-language exams geared toward students learning English.
By the numbers
October 19, 2015
Charter school demographics coming under fresh scrutiny
This year, charter schools’ progress toward goals for enrolling high-needs students are being scrutinized by state regulators. But it's unclear how strict they'll be.
September 16, 2015
Elia names new slate of state education leaders, including former city ELLs chief
The appointments end an extended period of transition at the department that began when former Commissioner John King departed at the end of 2014.
August 7, 2015
New York’s newest literacy test for aspiring teachers gets judge’s OK
A new exam testing the reading and writing skills of aspiring teachers in New York State does not discriminate against black and Hispanic candidates, a judge ruled Friday.
Turnover at the top
July 8, 2015
Amid transition at New York ed department, Ken Wagner to decamp for Rhode Island
Ken Wagner, a top state education official who took on a bigger role after John King’s resignation, has been tapped to be Rhode Island’s next education commissioner.
July 7, 2015
Ken Wagner, top state ed deputy, a finalist for Rhode Island ed chief job
Wagner would be the latest in a string of state education officials to leave over the last year, which has been marked by tumult over education policy.
June 12, 2015
Teacher evaluation regulations further reduce role of state tests, outside observers
The state released regulations for New York’s new evaluation law on Friday that would allow districts to reduce the role of standardized tests and outside observers.
May 26, 2015
Education groups with opposing views welcome incoming Commissioner Elia
The national, state, and city teachers union chiefs praised MaryEllen Elia's appointment, as did some advocacy groups that often clash with the unions.
a new era
May 26, 2015
MaryEllen Elia, former Florida superintendent, is state’s next education chief
Elia spent 10 years overseeing Hillsborough County's schools, where she won $100 million from Gates Foundation to overhaul teacher evals and made headlines for union collaboration.
May 18, 2015
Fariña to state officials: Cuomo’s evaluation plan needs changes
The letter’s most surprising takeaway is that, in New York City, Cuomo may be about to exacerbate the problem he sought to fix through his new evaluation law.
an objective measure
April 7, 2015
As new teacher evaluation system looms, Tisch defends need for state tests
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch continues to defend the need for state tests as an objective measure in the new teacher evaluation system.
January 26, 2015
Schools will be closed Tuesday, and Regents exams moved to later this week
Citing the “historic” snow storm bearing down on New York, state education officials said districts forced to cancel school can reschedule Regents exams — as long as they still administer all the tests by Friday.
getting to graduation
December 18, 2014
City’s June graduation rate jumps nearly three points, outpacing state
New York City’s four-year June graduation rate jumped nearly three points to 64.2 percent this year -- the largest uptick in several years -- while its share of dropouts fell and the achievement gap between different student groups narrowed.
December 12, 2014
The moments that defined John King’s tenure
A look at the most significant moments in John King's three-and-a-half year tenure as state education commissioner.
December 11, 2014
In first goodbye, King calls for successors to continue his work
State Education Commissioner John King kicked off his farewell tour on Thursday with a call for school districts to continue the changes he oversaw during five tumultuous years at the State Education Department.
December 10, 2014
After turbulent tenure, State Ed Commissioner John King stepping down for federal ed job
King stepped down in December 2014 after a three-year tenure. He managed the state's rollout of the Common Core standards and a new teacher-rating system.
August 26, 2014
Are principals prepared to evaluate pre-K teachers?
As New York City expands its pre-K offerings, questions of how best to train principals and evaluate teachers have taken on new urgency.
August 6, 2014
State releases about half of test questions from 2014 state exams
Educators and parents looking to understand—or critique—New York's state tests have about half of the questions to work with, which some critics say still isn't enough.
July 23, 2014
11 city charter hopefuls move to next round of application process
An all-boys school, a school that offers the International Baccalaureate diploma, and a Staten Island high school for students at risk of dropping out are among 11 prospective New York City charter schools that the State Education Department invited this month to submit full applications to open in 2015.
February 25, 2014
Poll: NYers disagree with Cuomo’s Board of Regents criticism
When New York State’s education policy-making body put forth a proposal last month that would have made it easier for low-rated teachers to appeal their…
December 19, 2013
More lawmakers call for SED to halt data-sharing plans
The State Education Department is facing increased pressure to curb its student data-sharing plans. Last week, Republican Senator John Flanagan introduced a bill to address looming concerns around the plan's data privacy and security. He also called for the state to halt the initiative, which is scheduled to begin next month, for at least a year. Now, a group of Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan, are raising their own red flags. Like Flanagan, they want the state to halt the plan, but they are also suggesting that they might not ever want to see it start up again. The controversy is over an initiative funded in part by federal Race to the Top grants designed to help districts use information about an individual student's personal and academic history to create more individualized lesson plans and inform a teacher's instruction. Some data elements being collected include test scores, report card grades, information about special needs, attendance records and disciplinary records.
November 8, 2013
State officials respond swiftly to anti-Semitism allegations in upstate district
Top state officials responded publicly and with distress today to a New York Times article detailing anti-Semitic incidents in the Pine Bush school district. Gov.
July 3, 2013
NYC's evals include scoring fix that districts lacked this year
The State Education Department is hoping to mend holes in its evaluation regulations, and it's using the evaluation plan that Commissioner John King imposed on New York City as its model. The changes are aimed primarily at eliminating the possibility that teachers could receive final ratings that do not reflect their performance. One issue revolves around how scores on three subcomponents of evaluations turn into a single rating. Under the state's scoring rules, there are some scenarios where a teacher could be rated ineffective overall despite scoring "developing" or higher on each subcomponent. A teacher needs a composite score of at least 65 out of 100 points to be rated developing or higher. But when the state set scoring ranges based on student growth measures, there were a small number of scenarios where a teacher could receive as few as six points out of 40 and still get rated developing on those subcomponents. Any point total under 59 that that teacher received on the remaining 60 points would not meet the 65-point threshold and result in an overall "ineffective." “They never took the time to run through all the permutations,” said Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Long Island, who has written about versions of the scoring quirk since the state adopted new teacher evaluation requirements in 2012.
July 2, 2013
In report, AQE cites progress in Albany — and room for growth
Parents supporting the Alliance for Quality Education gathered in Manhattan to watch the livestream of the press conference in Albany discussing the group's report card. The state should be applauded for its recent investments in prekindergarten and community schools, according to an Alliance for Quality Education report released today. But the lobbying group said New York still has a lot of work to do when it comes to issues such as expanded learning time, reducing school suspensions, and offering high-quality training for teachers. In a "college and career readiness report card," AQE also dinged the state for not reducing the per-pupil funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts, a pet issue for the lobbying group, which frequently partners with the state teachers union. "Unless there is a substantial change in education policy, these negatives will keep being negatives," said AQE Executive Director Billy Easton.
June 18, 2013
State ed department highlights Common Core changes in new video
The State Education Department is hoping to end the year on a positive note with a new video that extols the Common Core standards. In…
May 17, 2013
DREAM Act on the next week's agenda for Regents, Assembly
The Board of Regents and the Assembly are teaming up next week to push for legislation that would give New York's roughly 150,000 undocumented students access to financial aid for college. On Monday, the board will convene a forum in Queens on immigration and education to wrap up their monthly meeting. The forum will discuss ways to increase opportunities for English language learners and undocumented students who were brought to the United States as children. That has been part of the board's legislative agenda for the past two years. The bill, the New York Dream Act, would give undocumented students access to state financial aid through the $1 billion-funded Tuition Assistance Program, or TAP. It would also allow them to open tax-advantaged savings accounts with private banks. The TAP funding in this year's budget is up from $885 million in 2010-2011. The Fiscal Policy Institute, an independent research organization, has estimated that the state would need to spend an additional $17 million annually to afford tuition assistance for the roughly 4,500 undocumented seniors who graduate from New York high schools every year.
March 7, 2013
Eschewing Pearson, state goes back to McGraw-Hill for GED
Nearly a year after Pearson, the testing company, took a public beating for mistakes on the exams it produced for New York State, state education officials are piling on. Today, the State Education Department announced that the state will forgo a new high school equivalency exam made by Pearson in favor of its own exam, which the publishing company McGraw-Hill will produce. The state announced that it would consider other vendors to create an equivalency test after Pearson partnered with the non-profit group that had previously produced the GED, which people who have not graduated from high school can take to show they are prepared for college, work, or the military. Cost was a major concern: Pearson's test will cost $120 to start, twice what the current exam costs. "While the GED was run by a not-for-profit, the system worked fairly well. But a Pearson GED monopoly would put our students at the mercy of Pearson’s pricing," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement today. "We can’t let price deny anyone the opportunity for success. That’s why, rather than pay Pearson twice the current cost or limit the number of students who can take the exam, the Regents approved a competitive process to develop a new assessment."
February 11, 2013
City's evaluation rollout plan ignores state's latest requests
The city Department of Education delivered a plan for how it will implement new teacher and principal evaluations to the state ahead of schedule today — but without giving state officials much of the information they asked for. According to a memo that Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent today to the state, the city plans to spend $23 million in the next six months preparing city educators for a new evaluation system. The memo is a response to State Education Commissioner John King's demand, made last month after the city and teachers union failed to agree on a new teacher evaluation system, that the city detail its implementation plans or lose state funds. The plan that Walcott delivered today is broader than the highlights that city officials released last week. In addition to dealing just with teacher and administrator training about the observation model the city is planning to use to assess teachers in action, the memo also explains how city educators will learn about some components of evaluations that must be based on student performance. It also delineates different training programs for teachers, principals, department officials and attaches a price tag to each one. But for the most part, the plan contains only the bare minimum of what city officials were told on Friday should be included in their implementation plan. In response to requests for guidance from the city, the state official overseeing review and approval of all evaluation plans, Julia Rafal-Baer, sent a chart to Chancellor Dennis Walcott with dozens of "key questions" whose answers do not appear in the plan the city submitted today.
January 30, 2013
Cuomo proposes state takeover in NYC teacher eval impasse
Appearing with legislative leaders this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he would seek the right to take over teacher evaluation planning in New York City if local negotiations fall through again. Cuomo said he still hoped Mayor Bloomberg and teachers union president Michael Mulgrew can break their impasse and agree to a deal on their own terms. But the two sides have failed to reach a deal for more than a year, despite mounting financial penalties for the city, and they fiercely defended their positions in back-to-back legislative hearings this week. Negotiations resumed this week, and Cuomo said he's planning to "firmly request" they get a deal done. "If they don't, then let the state step in and let the state ... determine the evaluation process and impose it on the city of New York," said Cuomo, who was flanked at a press conference by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos.
January 28, 2013
State aid cuts would cost city 2,500 teachers, Bloomberg says
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Page, his budget director, testified in Albany today about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget, which would penalize the city again for not adopting new teacher evaluations. ALBANY — New York City would have to cut 2,500 teaching positions over the next two years under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget plans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told lawmakers this morning. Appearing at a hearing about Cuomo's budget proposal, Bloomberg focused on the school aid that would be withheld because the city and teachers union have not agreed on new teacher evaluations. The city already lost out on $240 million in state aid this year as a consequence of missing a Jan. 17 deadline that was written into law and could lose another $224 million next year if Cuomo goes through with his plan to tie school aid to evaluations again. The cost of that penalty would be severe, Bloomberg told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, forcing cuts to city schools' spending on personnel and programming. Bloomberg blamed the UFT, again, for the city's shortfall and also criticized the State Education Department, which is threatening to penalize the city further by withholding some resources for high-need students. But during a fierce exchange with Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who chairs the education committee, the blame also landed briefly on Bloomberg himself. Nolan pointed out that Bloomberg had supported the law that paved the way for the union and the city to reach a deal on evaluations last February. She recited Bloomberg's comments at the time the law was passed (“This is a win-win-win for the kids and for the adults”). "Don't you feel some responsibility for this disaster?" she asked. "And it is a disaster."
January 15, 2013
New York State's bulked-up test security team opens its inbox
A new form allows people to report suspicions of cheating on state tests online, simplifying a long-complicated process. Starting today, school staffers can report their cheating suspicions online. The state's new test security watchdog has launched its website, allowing people to use an electronic form to file allegations about possible cheating by educators on state tests. It's one of the first concrete moves by the State Education Department's new test security unit, created last year after a self-imposed audit of the department's test security policies found them severely lacking. The audit came after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged states to scrutinize their test integrity practices following a spate of high-profile cheating scandals. The scandals threatened to undermine the real and perceived value of test scores even as New York State was attaching higher stakes to its scores. The audit concluded that the state's paper-based system for receiving allegations of improprieties was disorganized and outdated, creating the potential for "underreporting and underestimation of information." Plus, the Office of State Assessment did not have anyone assigned exclusively to investigate allegations that did come in. Now, four investigators — all former state and federal law enforcement officers — are ready to look into cheating allegations received online, according to Tina Sciocchetti, who heads SED's Test Security and Educator Integrity office. The investigators are also working on piles of years-old cold cases absorbed from the assessment office.
November 14, 2012
Several NYC teachers on state's new Teacher Advisory Council
Jeff Li, who stepped down at Teach for America to return to the classroom this year, is one of seven city educators on the state's new Teacher Advisory Council. Among the 23 teachers from across the state that Education Commissioner John King has tapped to give him feedback about how policy is playing out in the classroom, seven work in New York City schools. The commissioner's Teacher Advisory Council, announced today, will meet periodically to discuss the policy agenda that the state's Board of Regents is advancing. That agenda, aimed at helping more students become college ready, includes adopting more challenging standards; overhauling low-performing schools; facilitating data-driven instruction; and improving teacher preparation and evaluation. "The teachers on the Council will give direct feedback from the frontlines of reform – the classroom," King said in a statement. "The most important thing we can do as educators is maintain focus on the students, and these extraordinary teachers will help us do just that." The teacher council parallels ones that already exist for superintendents, school boards, and other groups, according to Dennis Tompkins, a State Education Department spokesman. One of the city teachers on the board is Jeff Li, the former head of Teach For America's New York City office who returned to the classroom this fall.
October 15, 2012
Six months to Common Core-aligned tests, details start to flow
For multiple reasons, passages similar to "The Hare and the Pineapple," which netted the state criticism last year, will not appear on this year's state tests. Next year's state tests will be shorter, quieter, and potentially more offensive, state education officials said today. The state math and reading tests that students in elementary and middle school take this spring — just over six months from now — will be the first that are aligned to new curriculum standards known as the Common Core. City and state officials have both warned that the tests will be tougher than what students have been used to, and in dribs and drabs they have released examples of Common Core-aligned test questions. State officials outlined more nuts-and-bolts changes in a briefing with reporters today. They said that even though questions will more often test multiple skills, the overall length of the exams will not increase. For the youngest test-takers, students in third and fourth grade, the tests will actually decrease in duration, they said. Last year's tests were longer than ever before, with students in all grades sitting for around six hours of testing over six days. For third-graders, last year's tests were more than twice as long as in 2011. In another shift, the state will make it clear to schools that it's okay for students to read quietly after they turn in their tests. At some schools, students have in the past been required to stay at their seats without anything to do until the maximum testing period elapsed, an arrangement that one anti-testing activist told the New York Times left her son playing "ballgames in his head."
October 10, 2012
New York City could get $25M for turnaround this year after all
Three of the 24 schools that the city tried to close and reopen this summer could undergo "turnaround" after all. Under the aggressive form of the federally prescribed school overhaul process that the department tried to carry out, all teachers at the struggling schools were required to reapply for their jobs. The city set no quota for rehiring, but the requirement that no more than 50 percent be rehired in order for the schools to qualify for federal funding was widely known. An arbitrator ruled in June that the city's version of turnaround ran afoul of its contract with the teachers union. But three of the schools — some of the smallest proposed for turnaround — turned over more than 50 percent of their teachers last year anyway, so they meet the federal requirements for funding. The schools are Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School, J.H.S. 22 in the Bronx, and M.S. 126 in Brooklyn. Now, the city has asked for turnaround funding for them and for 15 other schools that it is shutting down through its regular closure process. Under that process, used for years, one school phases out while others phase in in the same space.
October 5, 2012
New York state plans overhaul to its charter authorizing process
State education officials want to raise the bar for charter schools and they’re looking to outsource some of the work to create and carry out…
August 16, 2012
State releases teacher rating data that most districts won't use
As of today, school districts across New York State have in hand the first piece of data they would need to calculate some teachers' ratings: their "growth scores" for last year. The State Education Department today distributed scores to districts for 36,685 educators who teach reading and math in grades 4-8 or supervise those teachers. The scores — which calculate students' growth on state math and reading tests, adjusting for the students' past performance, the performance of similar students, and the reliability of the exams — would count for 20 percent of educators' ratings under the state's evaluation law. Two consecutive “ineffective” ratings could trigger termination proceedings under the law. But the data released today suggest that the state's current formula for measuring student growth would be unlikely to place many teachers' jobs at risk. Nearly 85 percent of the 36,685 educators who received a score fell into the "highly effective" or "effective" ranges. Just 6 percent of them had scores in the "ineffective" range. Few of the scores issued today will actually be used to evaluate teachers. Most of the state's 715 school districts, including New York City, have not yet adopted evaluation systems that comply with the state's evaluation law, and many that have adopted new evaluations won't use them until next year.
July 12, 2012
Emails illuminate SUNY's 2010 bid to keep authorizing charters
A chart from a 2010 analysis that compared charter schools' performance by authorizer. When a researcher with a penchant for crunching charter school data sat down to compare New York State's charter authorizers in 2010, her impetus wasn't merely academic. For Jonas Chartock, then the director of one of three authorizers, who requested an analysis, the data was a matter of survival. “At the time there was a real push by some politicians to eliminate SUNY as an authorizer,” said Chartock, who headed SUNY's Charter School Institute until early 2011. Chartock asked Macke Raymond, a Stanford researcher who had just wrapped up a broad study of New York City's charter sector, to examine her school performance data based on which office had authorized it. Her comparison showed up as an attachment to one of several hundred Department of Education emails released last week in response to a teachers union's Freedom of Information Law request. Raymond found that students at SUNY-authorized charter schools improved at a quicker pace than students at schools authorized by the State Education Department and the city Department of Education. At schools authorized by SED, she found, students actually lost ground over time.
May 4, 2012
In leaked memo, Pearson stands behind "Pineapple" test items
Even when it seemed that everyone had something to say about “The Hare and the Pineapple,” the seemingly nonsensical story that appeared on New…
April 23, 2012
State's promise to bar edited test passages repeats 2002 vow
Responding to criticism about the now-famous "Hare and the Pineapple" story that appeared on last week's eighth-grade reading test, state education officials today made a promise: State tests will no longer include literary works that have been revised. "We will use only authentic passages, passages that have been published and not edited," Kristen Huff, a senior fellow for testing, told members of the Board of Regents during their monthly meeting this morning. If Huff's promise sounds familiar, that's because it is. Exactly a decade ago, then-State Education Commissioner Richard Mills made the same vow. ''It is important that we use literature on the tests without changes in the passages,'' Mills said at the time, according to a report in the New York Times. ''I have looked carefully at the Education Department's current practices and the concerns of the writers and have directed that these changes be made.'' Mills was reacting to an expose, engineered by an assiduous Brooklyn parent, that showed that the English Regents exam taken by high school students across the state contained oddly edited passages. The editing had stripped the texts of "virtually any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol, even the mildest profanity and just about anything that might offend someone for some reason," the Times reported in 2002.
March 20, 2012
State hires upstate attorney to head new test security office
State officials have chosen the first member of a million-dollar team that will crack down on cheating. State Education Commissioner John King today appointed Tina Sciocchetti to be the executive director of the Test Security and Educator Integrity office, a division whose creation King announced last week following a four-month audit of the state's test security policies and procedures. The auditor, Hank Greenberg, found an array of deficiencies in the department's capacity to receive and pursue test fraud allegations and issued a series of recommendations for reforms. On Monday, Greenberg presented those recommendations to the Board of Regents and today the Regents voted to approve them, formally creating the test security office. Sciocchetti, a lawyer, will have her work cut out for her. She will confront a department that lacks an infrastructure to handle reports from local districts or pursue its own investigations. According to Greenberg's presentation to the Regents, nearly half of the allegations received by SED between 2006 and 2011 remain unresolved. A lack of clarity about how to handle the 276 verified allegations from the same period meant that state officials pursued revoking a teacher's certification in just four cases. Sciocchetti's new office will be responsible for resolving the open cases, setting consequences for misconduct, and establishing new guidelines for pursuing its own cases using data methods that look for suspicious test score patterns.
March 14, 2012
Test security measures nixed from 2012-2013 state budget
Funding for statewide erasure analysis and other test security measures was omitted from early drafts of the 2012-2013 budget, meaning a major initiative by the state education department could be shelved indefinitely. Back in October, the Board of Regents signed off on a plan to request $2.1 million in the 2012-2013 budget for erasure analysis as part of changes to address concerns that state tests were not secure. State education officials lobbied the Governor's office for the funding, but when Cuomo released his $132.5 billion preliminary budget in January, the line item was not included. Funding for the initiatives was also left out of budget proposals submitted this week by the Assembly and Senate. "The legislature said it's obviously not a priority for them," SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins said of the test security proposals. Every spring, state agencies lobby Cuomo's budget office for their legislative priorities. In addition to funding for test security, SED officials also wanted a budget amendment to reduce costs and shorten the length of time it takes to complete disciplinary hearings for tenured teachers, a wish that Cuomo granted. The omission of test security proposals came at the same time as Cuomo used the budget process to push districts and teachers unions to accept an evaluation system that makes test scores a part of teacher ratings. Some legislators said test security got short shrift during the budgetary process. "As more and more importance is placed on state tests, there needs to be real reform: higher quality tests, better formats, and improved test integrity," said Senator Daniel Squadron. "The only way to improve the quality of the tests and the integrity of the scoring is to invest more dollars to move beyond oversimplified multiple choice, and to professionalize assessment."
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