Archive for category NYSED

Is the NYS Education Department Listening Now?

Sometimes I don’t know why I take two hours on a Sunday evening to watch and listen to the NY State Senate Education Committee meet with the New York Education Commissioner John B. King Jr on Thursday, January 23rd.  You can view it on Senator Flanagan’s website here. Two hours of over 5 to 6 state senators saying to the education commissioner to delay the implementation of the Common Core Standards.  Senator LaValle opened the meeting slamming his hand to “push the delay button.”  “It’s not working and we need to stop.  The roll out was bad and children are being hurt.”  

Dr, King’s response was that there is a confusion about the CCSS and APPR and requirements of the state test.  He kept going back to how the department requires certain tests mandated by the US Education Department.

Senator Marcellino  reiterated saying, “When we talk about a delay, we’re talking about giving educators time.  Parents are very concerned.  Give the professionals a chance to catch-up.  It takes time.”  He went on to say that the State Education Department “changes requirements like I change my socks.”  

Commissioner Kings stated that we have phased in the Common Core since 2010 and with Class of 2017, we will see a 7 year implementation of the Common Core.  Senator Martins corrected the commissioner, saying that implementation was started in 2013-2014 and we only have three years of a poor implementation process.  Senator Seward referenced the “building and plane in the air” and that scenarios has been a failure and referenced to hit the pause button.

Senator Latimer got really emotional in his remarks and slammed his hand on the table in reference to “hit the delay button.”  Senator Flanagan, the head of the education committee, ended the meeting asking, why doesn’t the Education Department just say that “we made a mistake and we know it hasn’t gone as smoothly as it should and we apologize.”  He referenced how the mayor of NYC apologized for the poor plowing after the snow storm.  

That is a great question.  Why can’t the NYS Education Department just says, “We are so sorry folks for rushing into this process.”  Is it because of federal money?  Is it because we have to be one of the first to do it, and in the end have our kids suffer?  Is it because of the sense of pride?  It is okay to say, “Whoa, let’s slow down some here.” 

To me, this two hour meeting was a  warning to Commissioner King and the Board of Regents.  Senator Flanagan puts it bluntly as well as Senator Martins, that if something isn’t done, and soon, then the NY State legislative body will do something because their constituents will not stop.  As Senator Flanagan stated, “If this gets put off until June, the public will go nuts.”  I think the Board of Regents has their work cut out for them in February.  Good luck! I’m optimistic as always!

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Dr. King, Don’t Ignore St. Lawrence County and Senator Ritchie’s Plea

Media preview
4th grade East Side teachers giving a presentation on Common Core Math to parents
November 13, 2013, Gouverneur NY

Dear Dr. King:

We are parents, educator, students, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and concern citizens working hard to provide the best education we can in Northern and Central New York.  Our students and staff are toiling to meet the demands of the new common core curriculum.  Teachers are putting in a lot of time every night, trying to work through the modules and planning engaging lessons for our children.  They are working hard to make sure that we are doing the right things for our children and making the right decisions.  Our teachers are working side-by-side with parents, inviting them into the classroom to help with math, giving parent workshops as you can see above, and hosting review lessons for parents.  Administrators are hosting parent nights to review the direction of NY State education and Common Core.  What we are missing is the opportunity that you are giving to other areas of New York State, a chance to hear you present and a chance to ask questions.

We are asking that you take some time out of your schedule and come and make a stop in our region for one of your forums.  Our parents and educators want to have a voice too.  The only area that is the closest to us is Plattsburgh or Syracuse.  This is at least an hour or two drive for our community members and should not be the only “chance” for them to have an opportunity to hear and see a presentation about the Common Core from the State Education Commissioner.  Our county is the largest, in area, east of the Mississippi, and it has been ignored on the schedule of forums.  Our NY State Senator, Patty Ritchie, has pleaded for you to make room in your schedule here and here, but still, there is no room for us.  We don’t understand why we are ignored, and our parents and educators should have the opportunity and the right to have a chance to be a part of what is happening throughout the state.  We can even host you at our school.  Our staff would be more than willing to help!

Please Dr. King, don’t ignore our region.  Let our region have a chance to hear what you say and have a voice!


Vicki Day, East Side Elementary Principal and concerned educator


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A Fixed Mindset in the NYS Education Department?

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I recently joined a book study group hosted by colleagues from New York State.  We just started discussing Chapter 1 and 2 of Carol Dweck’s fabulous book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  Chapter 1 and 2 explains the two mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.  This graphic representation depicts the two mindsets perfectly:

Our first question posed was this:  “Think of a teacher or colleague with a fixed mindset – someone who won’t take risks, who can’t admit mistakes, and gets defensive after setbacks.  What information from the chapter helps you understand that person better?”
As the weekend progressed, many posts, blogs, tweets, you name it, went viral about the NYS Education Commissioner and the NYS PTA sponsored Town Hall meetings in Pougkeepsie and Whitesboro.  Needless to say, he got an earful of criticism, complaints, and hounding to resign his post. You can see clips here, and here.
Some of these folks were downright rude and should be embarrassed with their approach, but what is surprising I think to all educators in New York is that the PTA and the commissioner have cancelled further Town Hall meetings due to “special interests”  What does that mean “special interests?”  I guess I’m a “special interest” to write this blog.  Come on, this is about our kids!   (A facebook page has been created called  NY Special Interest) Carol Burris wrote a fantastic post here about leadership and how our commissioner “blew it big time”. Tony Sinanis wrote another letter to the commissioner about how we can work together.  I wonder if the commissioner will ever answer you Tony?
So, this brings me back to that first question from our book study.  I wonder if our State Education commissioner was of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?  You decide.

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Making sure to Stay Positive in the Land of APPR

Administrators in NY State received an email from our assisant deputy commissioner, Ken Wagner stating the public release of the 2012-2013 ELA and Math tests for grades 3-8 will be posted on August 7, 2013.  Within the email, an attached memo from our state education commissioner, Dr. John B. King was attached.  Here is the majority of his memo “to the field”:

As you know, those scores are expected to be significantly lower than the 2011-12 scores. This change in scores — which will effectively create a new baseline measurement of student learning — is largely the result of the shift to assessments that measure the Common Core Learning Standards, which more accurately reflect students’ progress toward college and career readiness. 

Because the State provided growth scores to be used in teacher and principal evaluations are based on year-to-year comparisons for similar students, all of whom took New York’s Common Core assessments for the first time in 2012-13, these growth scores will result in similar proportions of educators earning each rating category (Highly Effective, Effective, Developing and Ineffective) in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12 on the State subcomponent rating category. New York’s state-provided growth scores will not identify a larger proportion of teachers and principals at lower rating categories in their growth scores as a result of the anticipated lower student proficiency levels.

We recognize, however, that some districts negotiated use of the 3-8 State tests in other parts of the evaluation. For those districts whose 2012-13 annual professional performance reviews (APPR) plans did not anticipate the proficiency rates on the new State tests, the Department is developing a methodology that could be used in the 2012-13 school year to compare rigor across the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years.

The teacher and principal evaluation system established in Section 3012-c of the Education Law involves multiple measures of teacher and principal performance to ensure an accurate assessment of a teacher and principal. In light of the new baseline in student scores set with the 2012-13 state tests, it is even more important for school district officials to consider all aspects of a teacher’s or principal’s evaluation when making employment decisions using the 2012-13 composite evaluations. 

Already, I have shared incomplete scores with some of my teachers.  They cried, because they landed in the “developing” section since we did not have a complete tally due to 3-8 scores not being released.  I stopped sharing because the morale started to go downard fast during the end of school.  

I am being optimistic.  I am of the belief that my staff is the best of the best, no matter what the results show.  We will continue to do what is best for our students in school.  

Our school will once again work together to get through this, support each other, and spin positivity in our day-to-day functions.  I challenge all to do the same, even though some days, it may feel it is impossible.  Just remember what we are there for, not for a score, but to teach our future!  Don’t let this define what you do!

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