Archive for the 'Teachers' Category

Regents Report — December 2017

December 17th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

The Council started something new last week — using Periscope to broadcast an update on issues in the news. Council Executive Director Charles Dedrick, Assistant Director Greg Berck and I discussed actions taken at the December meeting of the Board of Regents this past Monday and Tuesday.

You can watch the 10-minute video here. We plan on doing these videos on a regular basis going forward.

Below is a further report on some of the actions taken or discussed by the Regents last week, co-written by Greg and me. The full agenda and supporting materials can be found on the Regents website. To view agenda items, click on the committee name (e.g., P-12 Education). Read the rest of this entry »

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More questions than answers

January 22nd, 2015 by Robert Lowry

Listening to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address and budget presentation yesterday, other Council staff members and I felt encouraged.  Perhaps the reaction was a reflection of our expectations.   But we felt he had presented ideas we could work with, if not necessarily endorse outright.

Then we read the details and were left with more questions than answers. Read the rest of this entry »

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A teacher evaluation success story

January 20th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to seek reforms to the state’s teacher and principal evaluation law and will reveal at least some of his plans tomorrow, when he delivers his State of the State address and unveils his proposed state budget.

The system is widely controversial, provoking criticism from virtually all sides:  from teachers for relying on questionable student test-based measures, from administrators for being more burdensome than beneficial, and from the Governor and others for producing what they deem implausible results.

The Governor vetoed a bill he had proposed, saying, “…the  2013-14 teacher evaluation results recently released by the State Education Department are not an accurate assessment — only 0.7% of teachers were  rated  ‘Ineffective’  under  the APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review], and so the legislation is unnecessary.”

But there is one aspect of the system that has won praise from superintendents and other educators as having a positive impact on efforts to improve teaching and learning.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Pivotal day in state education policy debates

February 10th, 2014 by Robert Lowry

Today is a big day for state education policy.  As the Buffalo News explained in a Saturday article,

Educators and lawmakers will be closely watching the Board of Regents when it meets Monday to see if the state’s top education officials will bend to pressure from lawmakers and educators who have complained about the way the state has rolled out the new learning standards. The Regents are expected to put forth a plan in response to a litany of complaints raised by teachers and parents at a series of public forums late last year.

I’m quoted as observing,

I imagine the legislators would hope that the Regents would put forth some ideas that would take down the temperature, satisfy parents and people working in the schools.  I think the stakes are high for the Education Department in that sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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Message to the Regents: Listen to the field

January 14th, 2014 by Robert Lowry

Today we have a guest post on our blog, written by Neil O’Brien, president-elect of the Council and superintendent of the Port Byron School District in Cayuga County, west of Syracuse.  It appeared first as a message for residents and employees of his district. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect formal positions of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. Read the rest of this entry »

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Too much testing

October 7th, 2013 by Robert Lowry

Why?

Last week, roughly  2,500 Western New York parents, educators and others came out for a forum on the impact of testing in our schools.  The Buffalo News reported,

“Reform of high-stakes testing for schoolchildren, a groundswell movement of lawn signs and small-scale protests, became an earthquake Wednesday evening.”

At the Council’s fall conference last month, Rockville Centre superintendent Bill Johnson warned State Education Commissioner John King that the testing “opt-out” movement is growing.  He stressed, “This is different,” explaining the participants are more thoughtful and better organized than critics of the past.

Reporting on a State Senate Education Committee hearing, Newsday wrote,

“Emotions ran high Tuesday at a Long Island public hearing on state tests and related school issues as a procession of parents, teachers and others assailed what they described as Albany’s overemphasis on student assessments.”

Testifying at the Senate’s Syracuse hearing, a statewide PTA leader said,

 “If you ask our members (and we have), our concerns aren’t based so much on a fear of instructional change, but with a perception that we have become obsessed with student testing, with preparation for tests and with the use of test results for purposes never intended by their designers.”

I like to say it’s hard to get the right answers if you’re asking the wrong questions.  Also, we often overlook the simple question, “Why?”

Why is this happening now?  What has changed in recent years to cause discontent over student testing to swell?

Read the rest of this entry »

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How superintendents describe experiences with new teacher evaluation requirements (so far)

June 9th, 2013 by Robert Lowry

Last week, the chair of one of the Council’s committees suggested we ask our members to share what they see as the positives and negatives from their districts’ experiences in implementing the state’s new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) requirements for teacher and principal evaluations.

Positive comments most often observed that the new requirements prompted conversations between teachers and administrators on how instruction should be evaluated and improved.

Negative responses focused on the time demands in complying with the requirements and their impact on other leadership priorities.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Budget reactions (updated 2X)

March 29th, 2013 by Robert Lowry

On Wednesday, I sent a note to superintendents asking, now that you have seen the School Aid run for your district, what are your reactions.

Here is one response, from the leader of a rural Western New York district.  I’d say it’s the most compelling, but the mixture of sentiments expressed is very typical:

My first reaction is one of sincere gratitude, and I called both of my legislators first thing this morning to thank them for their advocacy.

On the other hand, despite the increase, I spent my day today meeting with employees to let them know they are losing their jobs.

If future increases fail to make a more significant impact on the GEA [Gap Elimination Adjustment] more quickly, our district anticipates a growing gap in the two years following next, and we do not have many more places where we can cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Home Room, January 22, 2013

January 22nd, 2013 by Robert Lowry

At 2 pm today, Governor Cuomo will present his 2013-14 proposed state budget.

We will send out whatever information we get as soon as it becomes public, including School Aid runs.

Several media sources have noted that leaks and previews have been much scarcer than in prior years.

The big questions in education are:

(1) How much of an overall aid increase will the Governor propose?;

(2) How much of the increase might be directed to expanding prekindergarten, extending the school day or year, and the other new initiatives the Governor described in his State of the State address two weeks ago?; and

(3) Will he propose any significant mandate relief?

In the meantime, below is some of the news we have highlighted in our blog and on Twitter over the past week. Read the rest of this entry »

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A postmortem on the evaluation deadline

January 21st, 2013 by Robert Lowry

All but six of New York’s school districts had teacher and principal evaluation plans approved by the State Education Department by the January 17 deadline prescribed by law at Governor Cuomo’s insistence last year.

We are relieved and surprised by the small number of districts without approved plans.

What superintendents think about the quality of those plans, their impact on teaching and learning, and what had to be done to get approval are questions we will be exploring in the weeks ahead.

The state’s largest district was one of the handful missing the deadline.

Read the rest of this entry »

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