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Statement of NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer on Graduation Rates

FOR RELEASE: December 18, 2014

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221
On Twitter: @nyschoolboards

While this year’s graduation rates show incremental progress from a year ago, we are discouraged by the fact that nearly one-quarter of students still do not graduate within four years.


In addition, we remain concerned by persistent achievement gaps based on race, ethnicity and wealth.


The state has now raised the bar for students. It’s not enough just to graduate on time. Students today must also be prepared to excel in college and the workforce. Based on this new measure, we find the percentage of graduates who meet college and career readiness criteria in English language arts and math wholly inadequate.


As the educational leaders of their districts, school boards are in the unique position to establish ambitious goals for their students, allocate the resources and supports necessary for students to be successful, and be held accountable for results.

Together, with hard work and dedication, we can make strides in increasing the academic achievement of our children.


Statement of NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer on the Statewide Teacher and Principal Evaluation Results

FOR RELEASE: December 17, 2014

CONTACT: Al Marlin
(518) 783-3723 or (518) 527-6933 cell
On Twitter: @nyschoolboards

The continuing gap between student performance and educator evaluations illustrates why New York’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) system is broken.

With more than 95 percent of educators deemed highly effective or effective, yet only one-third of graduating students considered college and career ready, the system is not serving its purpose of improving student achievement by informing instruction.

Moreover, the evaluation results do little to differentiate which teachers and principals perform well and which do not. The structure of the APPR system is overly complex, bureaucratic and easily manipulated.

State officials should go back to the drawing board on APPR and conduct meaningful discussions with the education community and create a new evaluation system that will better serve New York's students.

 


More bilingual education programs may be required under new ELL regs

On Board Online • December 15, 2014

By Pilar Sokol
Deputy General Counsel

Until now, school districts have had to provide bilingual education programs only when they have 20 or more ELL students of the same grade level assigned to a building, all of whom share the same home language other than English.

However, starting in September 2015, school districts also have an obligation to provide a "sufficient number" of bilingual programs if on a districtwide basis, it has 20 or more ELL students of the same grade level who also share the same home language other than English, regardless of whether the students are assigned to the same school.

To assess the numbers, districts will be required annually to estimate and report the number of ELLs who will be enrolled in the following school year in each school and in each grade within each school, as well as the number of ELLs in the district who speak the same language.


Statement of NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer on the Departure of State Education Commissioner John King

FOR RELEASE:  December 11, 2014

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell
On Twitter: @nyschoolboards

We congratulate John King on his appointment and wish him well in his new role.

We look forward to working with the Board of Regents to find a commissioner who is well qualified to address the issues confronting public education.

New York’s next education leader must be a consensus builder, capable of bringing together multiple constituencies for the benefit of public school children in the state, and one who listens carefully to those who must implement State Education Department regulations.

 


Teachers' comfort with math issue in move to new standards

On Board Online • December 15, 2014

By George Basler
Special Correspondent

A bottle holds 900 milliliters of liquid, and a bucket holds six times as much as a bottle. How many more milliliters does the bucket hold than four bottles?

Fifth graders in states that have adopted the Common Core are being asked to answer such questions, while plenty of adults - including elementary teachers - might have trouble coming up with the right answer (1,800). A University of Connecticut survey of almost 700 elementary school teachers in eight states including New York found that a third reported experiencing some degree of math anxiety.

Most elementary teachers "don't feel they're experts in mathematics" because they teach many subjects, said Barbara Reys, Curators' Professor and Lois Knowles Faculty Fellow at the University of Missouri's College of Education.

Shannon Osborne, a teacher in the Jamestown City School District, certainly feels that way. Math was not her strong suit in school, she said. So it was daunting when she saw the new Common Core standards for math, such as the concept of breaking numbers apart so students can look at the structure of mathematical ideas, she said.


Athletic association asks Regents to OK cheaper, faster way to certify coaches

On Board Online • December 15, 2014

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Fans of the Colton-Pierrepont girls' basketball team in St. Lawrence County were sweating out a nail-biter before the team even played a game this year: Would the district find a coach in time to have a season at all?

Luckily, a certified replacement for a coach who bowed out on short notice appeared just in time. But Superintendent Joseph Kardash said such stressful, last-minute scrambles to fill coaching positions are all-too-common in his rural area.

"Many of us constantly struggle to find certified coaches for any sport," he said.

Athletic directors from all over the state say they also have trouble finding strong candidates with the time and financial means to sit through New York's battery of coaching certification courses.


2014 has been a year of growth

Tim KremerOn Board Online • December 15, 2014

Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

"We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don't."
- Frank A. Clark, American writer and cartoonist (1911-1991)

 

The past year has been wildly eventful for NYSSBA, both externally and internally.

The public policy agenda has never been more complicated for our organization, with often differing opinions among our members about such fundamental issues as standards, measurements and resources.

We live in a political culture of shifting sands - and it's hot sand, at that - and aggressive positioning. We saw the advent of the Stop Common Core ballot line. Add to that issues like the growth of pre-K and charter schools, standardized testing opt-outs, school security breaches, issues involving teacher evaluations and some school boards behaving poorly. It was quite a year.


Feds to probe claim state aid system is discriminatory

On Board Online • December 15, 2014

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has agreed to investigate claims by the Schenectady and Middletown city school districts that New York's state aid funding structure, in effect, discriminates against minority students.

The districts' complaints claim that the combined effect of state budget freezes and reductions over the last six years, along with yearly deductions from foundation aid to help balance the state budget (the Gap Elimination Adjustment), have disproportionately harmed their districts and students.

The superintendents do not contend that the discrimination is intentional. However, they assert that the way school aid is distributed in New York ensures that districts such as theirs - urban districts with large populations of students who are black, Hispanic, disabled, living in poverty or speak other languages at home - consistently receive less funding than they need to provide sufficient educational programs and services for their high-need students.

"While we are still a long way from victory, this is a step in the right direction," said Schenectady Superintendent Laurence Spring.


Athletic transfers now include one season of sitting out

On Board Online • December 15, 2014

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Starting next year, many high school athletes who transfer to another school may not be able to jump into action with a new sports team as quickly and easily as they used to.

Under a rules change approved by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), athletes who change schools will have to sit out one varsity season in any sport they play, except under some tightly defined circumstances.

The three exceptions are: (1) when a student transfers to another public or private school within his or her home district; (2) when the student's family can show financial hardship, such as difficulty paying tuition; or (3) when there is documented evidence of bullying.

The NYSPHSAA board voted in October to stop granting waivers to athletes who said they changed schools for academic reasons. With those waivers in hand, students have been able to join their new schools' team rosters immediately.


Opinion: The Common Core's role in the myth of failing schools

On Board Online • December 15, 2014

By Chris Cerrone

The Common Core is championed as developing critical thinking skills and preparing our students for "college and career." Perhaps we should apply the former to the latter. Can we predict exactly what university programs or job opportunities will be available many years from now? How do we know that the Common Core will prepare students for what awaits after graduation? Is making students "college- and career-ready" a worthy goal, or would we prefer that our children become "life ready" - caring, responsible, well-rounded, community minded individuals who can adapt to whatever the future holds?

The front page of On Board on Nov. 10 contained a short piece about how six of 10 New York students who took the SAT were not at the level that the College Board claims will show readiness for college and careers. But many studies (including one mentioned in the Nov. 24 edition of On Board) have shown that the most important predictor of college success is a student's high school grades, not standardized test scores. As a school board member, teacher and parent, my concern is that our state and nation's focus on test scores feeds the myth that our schools are "failing" (and could easily be manipulated when state officials set cut scores).

More students are graduating high school and attending college than ever before in American history, and the United States remains the world's leader in innovation and an economic powerhouse. Yet, despite these achievements, there are those pushing the panic button over public education in the United States.

Many proponents of the Common Core and other educational reforms say we need to prepare students to compete in a global economy, particularly with "emerging" China. Such international comparisons have been going on for decades, including worries about falling behind the Soviets during the Cold War Era. Alarms have been raised over PISA scores, yet our overall results have remained consistent ever since PISA's inception. When looking at PISA results compared by wealth, American students in schools with low poverty rates are at the top of the international assessment rankings. The real issue is how to improve the achievement of students who grow up in poverty.

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