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September 13, 2017
This top-rated black teacher may lose her job over one test. Are ‘high standards’ working?
A Baltimore teacher may lose the job she loves because of a single test — an example of how efforts to "raise the bar" can play out on the ground.
August 14, 2013
City crunches teacher prep data in early bid to assess programs
The city's presentation about new Teacher Preparation Program Reports shows what proportion of training programs' graduates went to work in high-need schools. City officials said they were "pleasantly surprised" by what they learned from their inaugural effort to analyze data about teachers by the programs that trained them. Just one in five of the 10,135 recent graduates of teacher preparation programs hired by the city between 2008 and 2012 left the school system within three years. In contrast, about one in three teachers left their jobs nationally during the same period, according to city Department of Education officials. "New York City is really bucking the trend," Deputy Chancellor David Weiner said today during a press conference to unveil "Teacher Preparation Program Reports" for 12 colleges and universities that together supplied about half of the city's new teachers who came through traditional training pathways. The reports represent a new frontier in the department's accountability efforts. They analyze the teacher preparation programs' graduates by six characteristics, including how long they stay in the classroom, how often they receive poor evaluations, where they work, and how they have fared on measures of their students' growth. City officials warned against making strong conclusions about the preparation programs' quality. Next year, after the city implements a new evaluation system, the training programs will be rated by their graduates' scores, they said, but for now, the reports are meant to spur collaboration with local colleges and universities.
August 13, 2013
Albanese says he could offer both retroactive raises and pre-K
CUNY Institute of Education Policy head David Steiner spoke with mayoral candidate Sal Albanese this morning. Long-shot mayoral candidate Sal Albanese has a proposition for the city’s labor unions: Let me change your pension plans, and I’ll give you retroactive raises. “What I would propose in exchange for retroactive pay is reforming our pension system,” Albanese said today at a forum at Hunter College. “I want the unions to allow me to reform the pension system. We have a clunker of a system. It’s not modern.” One of the next mayor’s first responsibilities will be to negotiate new contracts with the city’s municipal unions, including the United Federation of Teachers. Mayor Bloomberg has allowed the contracts to expire, and many unions say they plan to push for back pay for their members once they get to the negotiating table. Albanese said offering the back pay, which Bloomberg says the city cannot afford, is possible if the unions agree to other changes to their benefits. Albanese cited a Toronto pension system as a model for reform, saying that it outperforms New York City’s. If New York City’s system functioned as well, he said, “we would save about $2.5 billion a year.” Albanese made the comments at the latest forum held by the CUNY Institute of Education Policy this morning at Hunter College. David Steiner, New York State’s former education chief, is hosting mayoral candidates to let them explain how they would run the city’s schools.
July 9, 2013
With less fanfare, Cuomo's education commission revisits NYC
David Steiner, Dean of Hunter College's School of Education, answers a question from state Senator John Flanagan, a member of Cuomo's education commission. For the second summer in a row, the body that's helping Gov. Andrew Cuomo form his education agenda visited New York City. But unlike last year, which drew a crowd and Campbell Brown, Tuesday's meeting happened with little fanfare and much more focus. It's been a little more than a year since Cuomo assembled the Education Reform Commission, a 25-member body made up of businessmen, government officials, union leaders, researchers, lawmakers and nonprofit executives. The commission was created to recommend wholesale reforms to improve the state's expensive school system. It's too soon to measure the commission's impact, but the handful of first-year recommendations that Cuomo adopted — the commission recommended 12 — will only affect a small percentage of schools. Cuomo used an allocated $75 million in the budget to create competitive grants, available by design to limited number of districts, to launch longer school days, expand prekindergarten and create schools that offer more nonacademic services to low-income students. Cuomo also allocated $11 million in stipends for "master teachers," to fulfill another recommendation, which aims to recruit and retain top teachers for in-demand subjects. Cuomo announced that teachers can begin applying for the program this week. It's unclear what the commission will recommend in its second year, but the possibilities seem more narrow. Last summer's meeting resembled more of a City Council hearing, with 17 speaker testimonies and a public comment period that covered a spectrum of education policies. It was also the place where Campbell Brown first launched her cause célèbre, to make it easier to fire teachers who've acted inappropriately in school. By contrast, Tuesday's event, held in a dimly lit performance arts theater inside the Borough of Manhattan Community College, featured lengthy PowerPoint presentations from five people who honed in on a few issues.
June 3, 2013
At a time of dramatic change, a DOE insider urges the long view
Like most officials who work for city schools’ support networks, Nathan Dudley plans to spend the week helping the principals he works with understand…
May 10, 2013
Alone among policy heavyweights, Vallas conveys reform fears
On a night when education leaders offered a spirited defense of the policies they are trying to implement, an unusual voice emerged as the dissenter: Paul Vallas. The Bridgeport, Conn. superintendent — who has served stints in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans and earned a reputation as a turnaround consultant for struggling districts with big budget gaps — said reforms he backed were at risk of collapsing “under the weight of how complicated we’re making it.” “We’re working on the evaluation system right now," Vallas said of Bridgeport. "And I’ll tell you, it is a nightmare.” The peripatetic schools chief's self-proclaimed "Nixon goes to China" moment came during the high-profile panel at the launch of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy, a think tank that former New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner is directing.
May 9, 2013
Q&A: David Steiner aims again for nonpartisan education policy
Two years removed from his post as New York State’s schools chief, David Steiner is back in his old office with his old job. But Albany gave Steiner, serving a second stint as dean of Hunter College’s School of Education, a vision for how education policy can and should be shaped. That vision is coming into fruition today with the formal launch of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy, a nonpartisan think tank that Steiner is directing. In an exclusive interview, Steiner described his vision for a one-stop shop for policy makers to seek guidance, education leaders to settle disputes, and reporters and members of the public to get the straight story about education policies. Speaking in his corner office at Hunter’s Lenox Hill campus, Steiner spoke carefully about the lessons he learned in Albany during a transformative tenure that included the overhaul of state tests, the adoption of Common Core Standards, and an ultimately successful bid for federal Race to the Top funding. And he shared insights about the craft of teaching and the challenge of being non-partisan in a highly polarized climate.
April 19, 2013
At Common Core talk, a principal says his reality includes vomit
PHOTO: Megan QuitterJoseph McDonald, a professor at NYU Steinhardt, (pictured far left) moderated Friday morning's NYU Steinhardt Education Policy Breakfast Series Common Core discussion. From left to right: Randi Weingarten (American Federation of Teachers president); James Cibulka (president, National Council for Accreditation of Teaching Education); Okhee Lee (NYU Steinhardt professor) and Ramon Gonzalez (M.S. 223 principal). Principal Ramon Gonzalez has been a principal for ten years, but this week, he said, he's experienced a lot of firsts. "I've had my first experience of students vomiting on a test. After we cleaned off the test, we had to call testing security to make sure it was still valid," he said. "I have to tell you, I was happy to submit that test to the testing authorities."
November 30, 2011
Amid sweeping changes, state's testing chief resigns suddenly
The State Education Department official who has supervised the state's testing program since 2004 — through skyrocketing scores, a brutal crash, and the dawn of an overhaul — has resigned. David Abrams, the State Education Department's assistant commissioner for standards, assessment, and reporting since 2004, announced his resignation today. His resignation is effective immediately, shocking some people who had expected to participate in meetings with him this week. Abrams's departure comes at a time of robust efforts to overhaul both state tests and how their scores are used — and of robust criticism of those efforts. Most recently, principals across the state have launched a rebellion against the state's plan to use student test scores in teacher evaluations. This week, a plan to lengthen reading tests to four hours was released prematurely, then rescinded the next day amid backlash. The department has yet to find a replacement for Abrams, according to SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins. He said other department officials would fill in for Abrams for now, as would members of a privately funded group that has been advising SED on implementing Race to the Top commitments, which include redesigning student assessments and teacher evaluations. “Obviously [Abrams] will be missed, but we do have a really strong team that can fill in,” Tompkins said. He declined to comment on the reasons for Abrams's departure. Abrams supervised the state's testing program during a period of controversy and change.
November 30, 2011
Pioneers in teacher prep chart changes in training landscape
If the people on a panel Tuesday about teacher preparation didn't convey the urgency they felt about improving teacher training, then a flash poll of the audience surely did. More than two-thirds of the audience, made up primarily of young teachers, said they didn't think their masters degrees had made them better at their jobs, according to electronic votes that were tallied in real time. With that context, a five-member panel of advocates for alternative certification and training dove into a 90-minute discussion about how traditional theory-driven teacher training had failed the profession, particularly in high-needs urban schools. Research has shown that having a masters degree does not make teachers more effective, and local, state, and federal efforts are underway to re-imagine how teachers are trained. Panelists largely agreed that many traditional education schools lack accountability, aren't willing to share performance data for their graduates, and have a detached relationship with the public schools where their graduates eventually work. "For too long schools of [education] have sat back and spun out academic theories of what should work in the ideal school with the ideal conditions," said a panelist, Bob Hughes, president of the nonprofit New Visions for Public Schools, which trains and certifies teachers and operates 99 schools in New York City. "And they've been divorced from the reality of what happens in schools ."
August 15, 2011
Steiner said he wondered "where the allies were" in Albany
When David Steiner announced his resignation as commissioner of the State Education Department, people close to him speculated that he was burnt out by…
July 25, 2011
Movement to videotape teaching has outlasted its first camera
The movement to revolutionize teacher training by showing teachers video clips of themselves in action is losing its original tool: the Flip video camera. As the dean of Hunter College's education school, former State Education Commissioner David Steiner pioneered the use of Flip cameras as a teaching tool. Instructors coaching teachers-in-training could offer documentary evidence of what they did right and wrong. Now, each student at Relay, a new education graduate school that grew out of Hunter's program, receives a Flip camera to document their lessons, according to a long article about the movement to revamp teacher education in this Sunday's New York Times Education Life supplement. The article's main featured a Flip video camera atop a miniature tripod. But production stopped this spring on the low-cost, one-button, no-cord digital video camera.
July 20, 2011
After early win, PS 9 parents lose bid to keep charter school out
A legal challenge that prompted city education officials to rewrite all of its co-location plans was denied today. Well before the co-location was approved in February, parents at Brooklyn's PS 9 had battled against the city's plan to move Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School into the building. In April, then-State Education Commissioner David Steiner halted the co-location plan, agreeing with the parents that the city Department of Education's space-sharing plan had many flaws. After the city revised the plan — along with all of the other co-location plans that had the same problems — parents appealed again. Today, state officials rejected that appeal, clearing the way for Brooklyn East Collegiate to take over classrooms and some shared space in the Prospect Heights building this fall. The decision comes as a blow not just to PS 9 parents but to others across the city who are trying to prevent co-location plans from moving forward. Steiner's April ruling on PS 9, which has come to be known as the Espinet decision, emboldened groups of people at other schools facing co-locations this fall to file their own appeals with the state. In recent weeks, State Commissioner of Education John King dismissed two other appeals, allowing site plans for Coney Island Preparatory Charter School and Explore Charter School to move forward. Today's decision did not come from King, but from his deputy, Valerie Grey.
May 16, 2011
Regents give districts choice of tougher teacher evaluation
Deputy Commissioner John King, who will soon become commissioner, said that for a teacher to earn a rating of developing, effective, or highly effective, there should be some evidence of student progress on state tests. Introducing a new option for how to change teacher evaluation, the Board of Regents voted today to allow districts and unions to increase the weight of student test scores on those evaluations to 40 percent. According to the law passed last summer, which changed how teachers in New York State are evaluated and introduced their students' test scores as an element for consideration, state tests would count for 20 out of 100 points. Another 20 points would come from local assessments, which school districts could devise on their own. Yet the set of regulations approved in a vote this evening will allow school districts, with the approval of teachers unions, to count students' progress on state tests for 40 points of a teacher's evaluation score. The board voted 14 to 3 to approve the regulations. Regents Betty Rosa, Roger Tilles, and the board's newest member Kathleen Cashin, voted against the proposal. The increased emphasis on students' progress on standardized tests turned up in the final draft of regulations after Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped into the discussions last week. In a letter to Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, the governor said he believed that students' scores on the annual math and reading tests should carry more weight in the evaluation of their teachers. Mayor Bloomberg agreed, saying that an earlier draft of the regulations did not place enough importance on the tests. Yesterday, a group of 10 prominent education researchers sent the Regents a letter asking them not to place more weight on value-added scores, which measure students' progress on tests against that of similar types of students.
May 16, 2011
Regents appoint John King the new state ed commissioner
The last appointment of a state education commissioner came in 2011, when the Regents chose John King, a former managing director at Uncommon Schools.
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