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August 7, 2013
Test scores fall sharply statewide, but NYC fares relatively well
The state's first round of Common Core test scores are out and they are just as low as officials warned. But there is some good news for New York City: Its scores are close to the state average, and far ahead of those of other large cities.
April 30, 2013
Weingarten calling for moratorium on Common Core stakes
After dropping hints in interviews and public appearances for weeks, AFT President Randi Weingarten is formally weighing in on the backlash to the Common Core standards today by calling for a moratorium on consequences attached to Common Core test scores. Weingarten is making the proposal right now in a speech to business and civic leaders at the Association for a Better New York, a pit stop for public figures with new ideas to float. Among the high-profile audience members is state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who helped steer New York's adoption of the tougher standards and has defended the state's decision to test students on the standards before teachers had curriculum materials aligned to them. Weingarten is expressly saying that she is not opposed to testing students on the new standards, which emphasize critical thinking and problem solving skills. She just doesn't want states or districts to judge schools, teachers, or students according to the test scores. "When states and districts get the alignment right — moving from standards to curriculum to classrooms to feedback and improvement — student success will follow," Weingarten is saying, according to her prepared comments. "But until then, a moratorium on stakes is the only sensible course." The full text of the speech is below, and we'll have more complete coverage, including reactions from Tisch and others, later today.
January 22, 2013
Pre-K, teacher quality top education agenda in Cuomo's budget
Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his budget address to issue a teacher evaluations ultimatum heard around the state. This year, Cuomo took that ultimatum and raised it, telling districts that he would again tie their increases in school aid to having new teacher evaluation systems on the books but that he would also reward some of their highest-rated teachers. Cuomo also set new funding for full-day pre-kindergarten in high-need school districts, early college programs to help high school students accelerate, and extended day programs that he introduced in his State of the State address earlier this month. And he announced that the state would require teachers to clear a new hurdle, a "bar exam," before being certified to work in New York State. We'll have more about Cuomo's education budget proposals later today, including his answers to three open questions about how he would fund schools. For now, here's the education section of his budget highlights sheet: The 2013-14 Executive Budget reflects a continued commitment to supporting improved student outcomes, sustainable cost growth, and equitable distribution of aid.
July 17, 2012
Test results show "incremental" gains for both city and state
An early look at this year's state test scores shows that the percentage of students rated "proficient" in reading and math inched upward in New York City and across the state. In a press release announcing the scores today, state officials called the gains "incremental" but warned that scores still have a long way to go before they show that all students are on a path toward being prepared for college. According to the data released today, 46.9 percent of city students tested in grades 3-8 met the state's proficiency standard on the English language arts exam, compared with 44 percent last year. The proportion of students rated proficient in math increased to 60 percent from 57.3 percent a year ago. City students still lagged behind the state as a whole, where 55 percent of students scored proficient in reading and 65 percent scored proficient in math. But the city's scores increased by a wider margin than the state's. Across the state, reading proficiency increased by 2.3 points and math proficiency rose by 1.5 points. New York City also did better than several of the other large urban districts that it is often compared to. Scores increased in Yonkers and Syracuse, but they fell in Rochester and Buffalo. “The progress we see this year doesn’t give us a reason to rest – it gives us a reason to strive for even greater gains," Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement. "There’s still much more work to do, but there’s no question our students are headed in the right direction.”
May 17, 2012
Walcott: City won't wait for evaluations to tackle teacher quality
Even without a new teacher evaluation system, New York City will ramp up efforts to weed out teachers who "don't deserve to teach," Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. In an early-morning speech to the Association for a Better New York, a business and political group, Walcott said the city would adopt new policies to insulate students from teachers deemed "unsatisfactory" under the current evaluation system. Under the new policies, no student will be allowed to have a teacher rated unsatisfactory multiple years in a row, and the city will move to fire all teachers who receive two straight U ratings. "If we truly believe that every student deserves a great teacher, then we can’t accept a system where a student suffers with a poor-performing one for two straight years," Walcott said. "One year of learning loss is bad enough — but studies indicate that two years could be devastating." The policies would go into effect if the city and union do not agree on new teacher evaluations by September, when the new school year begins. Under the existing evaluation system, two consecutive U ratings can trigger termination proceedings but do not have to. Two "ineffective" ratings on teacher evaluations now required under state law would automatically trigger termination proceedings. Walcott also announced that the city would capitalize on a clause in its contract with the teachers union to offer a resignation incentive for teachers who have spent more than a year in the Absent Teacher Reserve, the pool of teachers without permanent positions. Buyouts would have to be negotiated for each teacher, and Walcott promised that the incentives would be "generous." The move represents a shift in approach for the Bloomberg administration, which has previously sought the right to fire members of the ATR pool. Walcott's complete speech, as prepared for delivery, is below. We'll have more on his proposals later today.
April 3, 2012
Walcott: "I've never been more hopeful" about middle schools
Revisiting the topic of his first policy speech, delivered in September, Chancellor Dennis Walcott today said efforts to reform the city’s middle schools…
September 20, 2011
Walcott: 'Bolder & more focused' middle school efforts start now
In his first policy address since becoming chancellor in April, Dennis Walcott vowed today to close some failing middle schools while opening at least 50…
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