MY RESPONSE TO THE STATE BOARD OF REGENTS

The Board of Regents made its feelings known about the common core and state testing in its announcement yesterday. I am not pleased. Here are my thoughts.

I am very discouraged by today’s vote of the Board of Regents and with the recommendations of the Work Group to reject a moratorium on grades three to eight testing . These actions show, once again, that the Regents are not listening to the unanimous voice of educators, parents and students – stop the testing now. Only three Regents voted to enforce a moratorium including our Regent, Harry Phillips. Shame on the other fourteen.

The recommendations by the Work Group actually highlight the inadequacy of the rollout of the common core in several areas. They admit that teachers need more and better curriculum guidelines, but they refuse to stop testing until the teachers are ready. They are advising school districts to make adjustments to student promotion and placements, and they are advising teachers to blame an ineffective rating on the school district for not providing necessary teaching materials. To me this shows that the Regents and the State Education Department are disavowing the relevance and validity of these assessments.

Some of the recommendations are good including allowing more time to phase in the common core aligned regents exams. Allowing students with severe disabilities to be tested at their instructional level rather than their chronological age, and allowing English Language Learners to be tested in their native language for their first two years demonstrate a sensitivity to these students that was missing. Reducing field testing and printing more versions of state tests so that teachers can see more test questions is important; but teachers have been asking for child specific test results so that they can see where a child is struggling, which is not in the report.

I strongly agree with delaying the launch of the data dashboards (inBloom) to address concerns about security. This will be most welcome by parents who are adamant about protecting their children’s privacy.

I am asking that the Regents reconsider and do what I had suggested back in October — delay the testing until the state has given the schools the tools and resources they need to implement a program that will truly improve teaching and learning.

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