Archive for June, 2017

A Disappointing Court Ruling on School Finance

June 30th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

In 2014, the Council of School Superintendents joined New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights (NYSER), a coalition bringing a lawsuit alleging that then recent state actions in school finance violated the state constitution’s Education Article, as interpreted in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) decisions issued by the state’s highest court in 1995, 2003, and 2006.

NYSER’s suit argued that, by failing to follow through on the implementation the Foundation Aid formula and other reforms enacted following the final ruling in the CFE case, the state has been denying schoolchildren the opportunity for a sound basic education as promised in its constitution.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, ruled the NYSER’s claims that students in New York City and Syracuse are being denied the opportunity for a sound basic education could go to trial and that NYSER could rely upon the CFE decision in its arguments.

But the decision is nonetheless disappointing.

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On Mayoral Control

June 26th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

The regular 2017 session of the New York State Legislature ended last week without action to extend mayoral control over the New York City public schools. It is now due to expire after June 30 — this Friday.

Our testimony on the subject at a May 2016 Senate Education Committee hearing began,

No one should desire a return to the school governance structure which preceded mayoral control in New York City.

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Testing. Now What?

June 21st, 2017 by Robert Lowry

Reporters have asked me, “Do superintendents want students to take the state’s tests?” – specifically, the grades three through eight assessments in English language arts and mathematics.

My standard answer begins, “Superintendents want state tests that educators and families will see as having value for their students’ learning. If that happens, families will choose to have their children take the tests.”

Last week, the Board of Regents approved shortening the grades three through eight assessments from three days each to two. It’s a change the Council, individual superintendents, and many others in education have sought for years.

The Regents and State Education Department have now made a series of operational changes to the assessments which were widely requested:  shortening the time required for the tests, first the daily sessions and now the number of days; disclosing substantially more test questions; returning results to schools earlier.

All these actions are helpful in addressing concerns educators and parents have raised about the conduct of the tests.

Greater and more complicated questions of how to assure the tests have value mostly remain to be resolved. They begin with, what purposes do we aspire to have the tests serve, and can we construct tests that will soundly serve each of those purposes?

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