EDUCATION COMMITTEE HEARING RECOMMENDATIONS
December 13 , 2013
REFORMING THE REFORM AGENDA
SENATE EDUCATION CHAIR PROPOSES CHANGES TO REGENTS REFORM AGENDA
Yesterday morning Senator John Flanagan, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, released the committee’s report based on statewide hearings held this fall on the Regents Reform Agenda and student data privacy. The report includes recommendations for action by the State Education Department and State Legislature. Senator Flanagan has introduced four bills that encapsulate his recommendations for the Legislature. We have outlined all of the proposals below.
RECOMMENDED ACTION BY SED
EXPEDITE FEDERAL WAIVERS FROM MANDATES ON VARIOUS TESTING RESTRICTIONS
The report calls for SED to seek additional Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers from federal mandates that allow for reduced restrictions on testing, including those for students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELL) students as quickly as possible. This is a part of NYSSBA’s federal advocacy effort.
URGE SED TO PRODUCE MISSING MODULES IMMEDIATELY
Instructional modules supporting the Common Core Learning Standards were supposed to be available from SED last June. Many are not yet available. While the modules are optional resources, many districts relied on their availability, creating a lag in the new instructional focus.
ALIGN ASSESSMENTS PROPORTIONALLY TO RELEASED MODULES
The report urges SED to administer test questions in proportion to the number of modules actually released for each grade level prior to September 1, 2013. Given SED’s promise to provide curriculum, many districts did not purchase or plan their own curriculum, making testing difficult at best. NYSSBA supports the expeditious release of modules, as well as other curriculum guidance and support. The approach of creating a testing schedule that matches the availability of instructional materials allows districts to progress according to material actually taught. This approach recognizes that calling a halt to all Common Core testing for a randomly selected time period does a disservice to students and the taxpayers who have paid millions in support the Common Core Learning Standards.
DELAY OPERATION OF EDUCATION DATA PORTAL FOR ONE YEAR
The report calls for a one-year delay in the operation of the statewide data portal to allow for the implementation of additional data security protections (likely those included in Senator Flanagan’s privacy bill, which is outlined below.)
INCREASE FUNDING FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR
COMMON CORE LEARNING STANDARDS
We support Senator Flanagan’s commitment to advocate for increased funding for professional development in the 2014 State Budget. Districts need additional resources to train teachers and administrators to effectively implement the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). One of the most challenging aspects of implementing the CCLS has been directing local resources at a time of reduced state and federal funding. If adopted, this recommendation would put the state’s money where its mandates are.
RECOMMENDED ACTION BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE
LEGISLATION TO BAN STANDARDIZED TESTING IN PRE-K THROUGH 2ND GRADE
NYSSBA supports the bill’s call to prohibit standardized testing in Pre-K through 2 except for diagnostic purposes, compliance with federal law and assessments locally developed by schools, districts or BOCES. Said differently, this bill prohibits the use of non-diagnostic state, third-party or vendor developed standardized testing for Pre-K through 2. The bill would also prohibit the commissioner from approving future APPR plans that do not meet this requirement. This measure would not affect current collectively-bargained agreements.
“UNNECESSARY TESTING” BILL – EXPEDITED REVIEW OF APPR PLANS TO ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY TESTING
This bill seeks to address over-testing concerns expressed during the hearings by parents and the educational community. It would establish an expedited process for SED to review submissions by districts that have negotiated amendments to their APPR plans for the sole purpose of eliminating any student assessment deemed unnecessary. Properly implemented, this measure could help districts expeditiously attain the commissioner’s approval for adjustments to their APPR plans. SED has indicated that these requests are already coming in fairly regularly from districts. This bill would bump testing-only requests to the top of SED’s “to do” list.
TRUTH IN COMMON CORE TESTING BILL
This bill calls for the commissioner to report on the effectiveness of the state’s common core testing program, including the appropriateness of test questions, correlations between student test scores and grade point averages and the effectiveness of the current vendor as opposed to moving on to using another vendor such as PAARC. The bill also calls for SED to have an external audit conducted to review and evaluate the common core testing program. This legislation should not be confused with another “Truth in Testing” bill that was rejected by delegates to NYSSBA’s Annual Business Meeting in October.
This is a comprehensive school privacy bill, which provides protections for personally identifiable student data and teacher/principal APPR data. Key provisions include the following:
Chief Privacy Officer - The commissioner would be required to appoint a Chief PrivacyOfficer (CPO) with broad sweeping duties affecting every aspect of data privacy. The position may be filled by an SED employee. We have recommended independent oversight of data usage.
Parents’ Bill of Rights for Data Privacy & Security - This document would be developed by the commissioner in consultation with the NYS Educational Conference Board and parents. Upon adoption, it would be included in vendor contracts as a binding provision. Districts would be required to post the document on their website.
District Opt-Out - Districts would be able to opt out of having their data sent to SED’s data portal provider but this would not limit the district’s responsibility to send it to SED in compliance with all state and federal reporting requirements.
Third Party Vendors - The bill would implement significant measures, many of which NYSSBA recommended, to deter third party vendors from unlawfully releasing data. This includes criminal and civil penalties for unauthorized release of data, unlawful duplication of data with the intent to disseminate and failure to expeditiously notify the district and parents of any unauthorized data release. The CPO could also preclude the release of data to the vendor for up to a specified number of years.
Complaint Resolution Process – The bill would establish a complaint resolution process within SED for the CPO to investigate allegations of improper third party vendor disclosure of student and teacher/principal data.
Data Privacy Contractual Provisions & Security Plan– The bill would require all contracts with third party vendors to include data security contractual provisions and a security plan, which includes the Parents’ Bill of Rights.
No Provision Requiring Affirmative Parental Consent– It is worth mentioning that this bill departs from other bills by not imposing a requirement on districts to secure affirmative parental consent for disclosing data to a third party for legitimate educational purposes (which NYSSBA and others have expressed would create significant operational difficulties for districts.)
LINKS TO THE FULL DOCUMENTS
THE REGENTS REFORM AGENDA - Senate Education Committee Report: “Assessing” Our Progress”
PRESS RELEASE - Senator Flanagan’s accompanying the release of the report
The Text and Memoranda for Senator Flanagan’s Four Bills That Support the Report’s Recommendations
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