High school students across New York will not have to meet higher passage requirements on new, tougher state exams in order to graduate until 2022 under recommendations approved Monday by the Board of Regents.
Those students currently were scheduled to start taking Regents exams based upon the Common Core academic standards this spring. The policy-making board's action means they will not have to pass the more rigorous exams with scores of 75 or 80 as graduation requirements until the later date.
The change came amid the full board's 15-2 approval of 19 recommendations from a six-member work group that Chancellor Merryl Tisch appointed to review the state's education initiatives. The vote followed nearly two-and-a-half hours of debate and discussion in a crowded Albany conference room.
Another recommendation will allow classroom teachers who face firing after being rated "ineffective" under the state's new evaluation system to appeal, on the grounds they were not adequately prepared to teach lessons based on the state's Common Core curricula.
That provision applies only to job ratings issued in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. Under the new evaluation system, teachers rated "ineffective" for two consecutive years face the possibility of job loss.
The Regents' action was the first significant pullback from reforms that Tisch and state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. have repeatedly asserted are necessary to ensure that students are college- and career-ready.
Veteran Regents have described the pressure they have felt from the public as unprecedented. The Regents are the nation's oldest education-policy board, dating back to the 1780s. Members are appointed to five-year terms by the State Legislature and traditionally have been largely insulated from politics.
"It's the first time since I've been on the board that I've seen something like this," James Dawson, a work-group member and geology professor from Plattsburgh who has served for 21 years, said in an interview before Monday's meeting. "I find it very disappointing and frustrating."
Dawson's disappointment stems largely from a conviction that the Common Core standards represent a positive step toward developing more rigorous, uniform guidelines in English and mathematics.
If these Regents think the pressure has stopped because they half-blinked on some parts of their reform agenda, they've got another thing coming.
Parents and teachers are not happy with the changes they announced today.
Neither was NYSUT.
They all thought the changes didn't go far enough.
And Cuomo was mad for another reason.
He thinks they're screwing with his signature education achievement - the glorious APPR teacher evaluation system that he claims is state of the art and the finest in the nation.
Members of the legislature have signaled that these announcements today are enough to keep them from doing anything in the short term to change either APPR or Common Core.
But Cuomo sounds like he's going to go after the Regents.
And the pressure isn't going to let up from parents and teachers either.
So if Regent Dawson is disappointed over the pressure he felt from the various stakeholders, that's just too damned bad.
The pressure isn't going to let up with the changes they announced today.