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APPR: Education game changer or annual obligation?

FOR RELEASE: August 17, 2016

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell

Multiple legislative and regulatory changes to law have left some to question the value of evaluation plans

Once hailed as a game changer for public education by linking student achievement to teacher and principal evaluations, New York's teacher and principal evaluation law today largely represents for school officials an obligation to bargain, according to a new research report from the New York State School Boards Association. 

NYSSBA's report, "Building Trust at the Table," is based on interviews with school officials and an analysis of 100 approved Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) evaluation plans.

APPR: Education game changer or annual obligation?

NYSSBA's new research report offers an inside look at the state of APPR, offered by those on the front lines of negotiations, as well as key takeaways for districts negotiating APPR plans.


Read the Full Report (9 pages - 729 KB) 



Despite testing changes, opt-outs persist

On Board Online • August 15, 2016

By Eric D. Randall

Skepticism about the value of New York State's grade 3-8 tests remains high, with 21 percent of students refusing to take the tests, according to the State Education Department (SED). That's a one percentage point increase from last year.

In 114 school districts, the opt-out rate was 50 percent or more. Many are on Long Island, where a number of superintendents have been vocal in their opposition to the state's approach to testing and dozens of parents endorsed by an opt-out group have won seats on school boards.

TRS contribution rate falls to 11.72%

On Board Online • August 15, 2016

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

School districts will see a decrease in their contribution rates toward the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) for the 2016-17 school year.

The TRS board formally adopted an employer contribution rate (ECR) of 11.72 percent at its August meeting, down from 13.26 percent in 2015-16. Payments associated with the 2016-17 rate will be collected in the fall of 2017. The 2015-16 rate is applied to the 2015-16 TRS member payroll and will be collected this fall.

Washington, we've got a problem

On Board Online • August 15, 2016

Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

Do you believe that an otherwise high performing school should be designated as "low performing" because a large number of parents in the school district opt their children out of state exams?

Should schools be punished because a student needs extra time to meet all graduation requirements?

Does it makes sense to identify a school for improvement and support before the ink is dry on new accountability indicators?

By answering "no" to any of these questions, you are joining a growing crescendo of voices - including NYSSBA's - that have expressed indignation about proposed federal regulations regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Grade 3-8 test scores show improvement

On Board Online • August 15, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The State Education Department's announcement that math and English Language Arts test scores continued to improve for students in grades 3-8 this year came with a commissioner's warning: use caution when attempting to compare current results with past performance.

"Because of changes made to the 2016 exam and the testing environment, the 2016 test scores are not an apples-to-apples comparison with previous years and should not be viewed as such," Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said as she announced increases of 6.6 percentage points in the share of students whose ELA scores indicated proficiency (levels 3 and 4) and 1 percentage point gain in math proficiency.

What is the value of state testing?

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Their influence in evaluating teacher and principal performance has been largely neutralized, at least for now, and their potency in school accountability determinations may be waning, too, thanks to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

One-fifth of students refused to take this year's grade 3-8 tests in English language arts and math, and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia sounded a cautionary note about comparing the results with previous years.

So, what are the tests worth?

NYSSBA to King: Don't penalize schools for parents' decisions

On Board Online • August 15, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

In comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on proposed rules for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, NYSSBA and the State Education Department have asked U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. to scrap provisions that could penalize schools when fewer than 95 percent of students participate in certain federally required state tests.

In a letter to King signed by Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer, NYSSBA reiterated its support for aspects of the law that return educational decision-making power to states and local school districts.

Individuals infected with Zika virus can remain in school, CDC advises

On Board Online • August 15, 2016

By Jay Worona
Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel

If a student or staff member has been exposed to the Zika virus or has "a confirmed Zika virus infection," how should school officials react? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it is safe for the person to remain in school, and school officials should protect the individual's privacy by refraining from making a schoolwide announcement.

The guidance states:

  • "For most children and adults, Zika virus infection will not cause symptoms or will only cause mild symptoms."

When your district is attacked on social media

On Board Online • August 15, 2016

By the New York State Association of School Attorneys

Most school board members and school employees have thick skins. They are accustomed to dealing with community criticism from those who disagree with difficult decisions, such as closing a school building, disbanding a sports team or terminating a popular staff member. But in the age of social media, attacks can raise questions about whether or how district officials should respond. Legal issues such as libel may be involved.

While criticism is nothing new, controversies can take on a life of their own as local bloggers express opinions and individuals comment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.

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