Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NY Times: Cuomo Reportedly Set To Reduce Role Of Testing In His Vaunted APPR Teacher Evaluation System

It's amazing what 220,000+ opt outs and poll numbers mired in the very low 40's will do to a politician's take on a particular issue:

Less than a year ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York proclaimed that the key to transforming the state’s education system was tougher evaluations for teachers, and he pushed through changes that increased the weight of student test scores in teachers’ ratings.



Now, facing a parents’ revolt against testing, the state is poised to change course and reduce the role of test scores in evaluations. And according to two people involved in making state education policy, Mr. Cuomo has been quietly pushing for a reduction, even to zero. That would represent an about-face from January, when the governor called for test scores to determine 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

There's some conjecture on just what this "reduction" will be:

The idea that Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, is pushing for the changes comes from several different avenues. According to one of the education policy makers, Mr. Malatras said in a conversation that the administration wanted to decouple test scores and evaluations. The other person reported having spoken with people who had similar conversations with the administration.

Two members of the Board of Regents, the body that sets state education policy, said they had heard that Mr. Cuomo was pushing for a moratorium on the use of test scores in evaluations. The two board members, Kathleen M. Cashin and Betty A. Rosa, both said they would heartily support such a change.

There's a big difference between "decoupling" tests scores from evaluations and having a "moratorium" on test scores being used in evaluations, so as always with this stuff, the devil is in the details.

Cuomo, through shill Malatras, is claiming nothing has been determined yet, that they're waiting for findings from the vaunted Common Core Review task force that Cuomo announced in September - but that's jive of course.

Cuomo has controlled every commission, panel and task force he's put together, from the two Moreland Commissions (one after Sandy on utilities, one on corruption that has him under federal investigation for witness tampering and possible obstruction) to the other two education commissions he put together (just ask Todd Hathaway who disagreed with the findings of the task force he sat on but had his name signed to the pre-determined report nonetheless!)

So what Cuomo wants, Cuomo's Common Core Review task force will find.

And it looks as if the governor, reeling from the bad press and bad polling on education, has perhaps decided the suitcases full of cash he gets from ed deformers aren't enough to keep him pushing ed deform policies in toto:

In New York, Mr. Cuomo’s push to give test scores more weight in evaluations helped propel a widespread test refusal movement this year, centered on Long Island. More than 200,000 of the nearly 1.2 million students expected to take the annual reading and math tests did not sit for them in 2015. At some schools, as many as 75 percent of students opted out.

Long Islanders tend to be swing voters, and education is a top concern of theirs, given the high percentage of school-age children and the role that local schools’ reputations have on real estate values, said Lawrence Levy, the executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

“Considering how his numbers fell off in suburban communities in the last election, I thought that the governor had to pay close attention to the desires and the demands of these suburban swing constituencies,” Mr. Levy said.

One final point to make on this - there's a likelihood that all they're going to do is call for a "moratorium" on test score use in APPR or a "moratorium" on the "penalties" teachers would suffer for low scores:

“A moratorium is under consideration,” said State Senator Carl L. Marcellino, a Long Island Republican, chairman of the Education Committee and a member of the task force.

The Board of Regents would quite likely approve a moratorium or any other step to reduce the role of test scores in evaluations. Until recently, a majority of the board supported tying test scores to evaluations, but the Legislature elected several new members this year who are critical of that policy.

This "moratorium" could come based upon the 50% test score criteria Cuomo imposed in the budget or it could be lowered to something like 20% (which is apparently what NYSED MaryEllen Elia thinks it ought to be.)

In any case, the "big changes" to education policy Cuomo promised look to be coming.

Whether they're substantive changes or more jive made to look like substantive changes remains to be seen.

Having watched Cuomo closely now for a few years, I remain skeptical.

But the low approval numbers in the polling, the especially low education numbers in those polls, the high opt out rates (with the numbers set to go even higher this year if the status quo continues) and the even higher "hardship waivers" districts got on Cuomo's vaunted new APPR teacher evaluation system with the 50% test score component seem to have weakened some of Cuomo's resolve to continue to scapegoat teachers for all the ills in the education system.

31 comments:

  1. I don't think Cuomo is making these considerations in the face of and against his $$-giving ed reformster supporters. He is most likely doing it with their consent and counsel.

    Its a giant pause button being pushed here, thats all. Its not, in any way, a refutation of VAM-APPR, tests, or anything else. They need a pause button to get this right...to weather the current parent storm. The broader hope is that parents need to calm down and disengage, then Cuomo and the ed reform infrastructure needs to rebrand and do ed reform more quietly and then pull the triggers like VAM-APPR when both those criteria are met.

    Honestly, at this point, ed reformers and their ideas have started to become sort of the educational infrastructure of the state. Because the challenges to and responses to ed reform in NYS have never been about the fundamental and philosophical groundings, always just the sort of tactical things, ed reform...its language, ideas, corporate vendors, institutional thinking, etc...have become the ground on which NYS education is built. So, again, this VAM thing with Cuomo, its a pause button. VAM-APPR is not going to disappear into the ether. It will come back repackaged, rebranded, and much more quietly...with its goal aways the same: a "scientific" foil to break and remove teachers.

    I suspect that what we will see is a moratorium on consequences for a year. Lets not forget, ed reformers and their political whores are willing to adapt, cut, rebrand in order to allow the broader goals and ideas to survive. Because there has been NO institutional (namely union) pushback against the broader philosophy of ed reform (outside of inside-baseball articles, studies, and blogs), the reformers are willing to adapt and change so long as the bigger picture isn't challenged.

    Thats all we are seeing here. Reformers are still running things. They are still winning.

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    1. Spot on. Reformers will hope that a moratorium will calm parents, but it will not. Parents will not "opt in" until the testing system is completely overhauled and the Common Core trashed.

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    2. In politics and government a moratorium is often a face saving measure. It is a way to allow an issue to go away without waving the white flag of surrender. I suspect we will never see testing coupled with evaluations again. It is radioactive at this point. Cuomo will not be governor forever.

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    3. It's true, Cuomo won't be governor forever, but previous governors were shills for deform too - Paterson was in power for RttT, after all. So even if Cuomo goes (or is taken out in cuffs), I'm skeptical that the Endless Testing regime, like the vermin it is, doesn't survive.

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  2. They could reduce testing in eval but don't forget they may pressure administrators to double down on Ineffectives in observations just like they've been doing in many NYC schools.
    Plenty of ruthless, bad administrators willing to do it too

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    1. Great point.
      We as teachers have been so beaten down that we have, in some way, begun to see district and building admin as allies in this fight against reformers. We forget that, for the most part, most of them are really shitty teacher-haters.

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    2. I agree - Danielson is as bad a bludgeon as VAM. Maybe even worse. Has whole school buildings on alert all the time for a Danielson drive-by...

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  3. Cuomo and the reform camp won't give up but clearly they've been dealt a defeat here by parents and teachers. A pause or moratorium will only communicate the parents and students that the tests are unnecessary and therefore should be optional. Opt out numbers will go up regardless. And the obvious posturing by all in Albany will only further undermine educators and parents confidence in their leadership.

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    1. I think you're right on all counts. This is a setback (Cuomo backing up on APPR literally less than a year after he pushed the 50% test score component) but not a defeat. They'll regroup and push on with other offensives.

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  4. This is all one big festival of "trial balloons." Cuomo, Elia and the Regents are negotiating-by-press to see how each of their constituencies respond.

    There are a lot of teachers (and even a few retired teachers like me) who respond to anything like this from a Cuomo mouthpiece the way a puppy responds to a rolled-up newspaper--we flinch. Turns out that there may be one thing that Andrew Cuomo fears more than the hedgistas who fund his campaigns--the "swing voters" around the state who abandoned him in droves in the 2014 primary.

    I bet he thinks that Hillary may lose the election and that the field will be clear in 2020 for one of those "pragmatic progressives" he fancies himself to be. A "pragmatic progressive" is usually another name for an "opportunist." Fits Andy to the teeth.

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    1. There's something to your theory, I think. With job approval numbers in the low 40's, he's discovered that destroying the public school "monopoly" isn't so politically expedient after all.

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  5. Cuono made a HUGE mistake when he involved ALL communities. You can't mess with white suburban moms. If you wanted to pull this shit in NYC alone, understandable since the parents are clueless. You can do whatever you want in NYC. You cannot mess with Westchester, Long Island, Rickland, Etc. You just can't. The people are too smart and paying too much in taxes. Cuono made a very big error with taking on suburbia.

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    1. Yeah, I agree. He could have gotten away w/ it had he stuck to Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Yonkers, et al., with a side excursion to parts of NYC. Taking on Scarsdale, Great Neck and Brighton turned out to be a bridge too far for the arrogant ed deformers - including Cuomo.

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  6. There is a point, however, where the parents will be satisfied and made content. I would argue that that point is somewhere BEFORE the teachers' are able to be free from the wrath of reform. For Cuomo etc, its about finding where that spot is. Hence the "trial balloons" mentioned above. (FANTASTIC description BTW). They are flying up trial balloons much the same way I used a piece of rebar to find the septic tank. Incremental test holes until you find the edge. Then its just a matter of digging.

    So yeah, Joshua and Janet Q. Parent's interests and our, right now are parallel. There is that sweet spot however where parents itches will be scratched and our interests will still be unsatisfied.

    Its the whole reform agenda. Philosophically. As long as that remains wholly undisputed and uncontested, times are very dangerous for us. Our fight so far, against VAM, Common Core, testing, has been a fight against the tools of the broader philosophy. Just tactical battles....a strategy thus far has yet to emerge on our side.

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  7. Maybe he's trying to get ahead of the Sheri Lederman decision.

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    1. I think so.

      And get ahead of the politically crushing force of 500,000+ April Opt Outs.

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  8. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    Abigail Shure

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  9. This is most certainly a PAUSE

    Cuomo and fellow reformer schemers need some time to figure out how to use other ways to dupe parents

    This bs will only end when the hedge pigs and other reformers start to realize there is no money to be made in public education

    Until then they will twist electeds arms who will then make deals with union leaders who will then get in cahoots with school district leaders to run public schools into the ground and take all the employees with them.

    Children First. What a joke.

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    1. I agree - it's a pause to stop momentum in the opt out movement. He's not giving up his dream of "busting" up the public school "monopoly."

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  10. I just need 18 more years!!!
    hahaahhahaha!

    IF they were smart...IF.....they could easily get what they want with way less drama. No need for VAM, no need for testing, no need for common core. Just make full teacher retirement 20 years and 60% FAS rather than the current 30 years.....you know, like cops and firefighters.....and you'd see MASS exodus of the profession as it stands, and then don't hire and there you go, door open for privatizers. It would be so easy....quietly change the structure so all the morons who decry public sector pensions remain fairly quiet, and done. Easy to flush out a generation of teachers.....and with a pat on the behind. Incentives work...especially when most teachers I know now hate their jobs. I'd be looking at 8 years left and that sucks but not as much as 18! And man would I leave at 20, smile on face, not once ounce of sadness for leaving.

    Laughable choice of a career.

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    1. 18 more years. Oy...

      I have over a dozen.

      Double oy...

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  11. Starting with the premise Cuomo never really cared and was merely hoping to gin up the anti-public sector (and anti teacher) vote, it is no surprise he's flipping his stance as he has realized he's actually losing votes on the APPR /Common Core/Testing debacle he helped create.
    Heck, he'd flip right back if the polls told him too. And then flip back again next Thursday.

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    1. I still think he cares about how the Hedge Fund Managers For Education Reform feel about all of this. That's why there's the CCSS review panel. Gives him political cover for what he wants to do to save himself politically on education.

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  12. Yeah, he's playing games. I don't think the hedgies can save him, necessarily. But, I'm not sure people realize that the money isn't exactly in running the charters. I think it's in leasing buildings to charters. It doesn't seem to have hit NYC the way it has done in the Midwest. But, out west, there are charters who lease buildings from themselves at exorbitant rents. Kind of like transfer pricing.

    With the exception of a few flagships like Success Academy, I think the vast majority of charters in NYC aren't all that profitable. Hell, SA may be a loss-leader just designed to establish a beach-head in the market. The goal is to establish the notion that schools should lease buildings instead of appropriate them using eminent domain.

    With the continued growth of NYC's population, the need for facilities will only increase. I wish someone would publish a story in the number of schools which lease their buildings (and from whom). The number prior to Bloomberg was likely zero. The number now is probably mind boggling. And, don't forget that the DOE spends money on capital improvements to these buildings that they don't even own. They are gutting the system. Moody's actually lowers the bond ratings of districts based on the number of charters which operate in them. Charters destabilize the entire financial health of a school district. They are vampires.

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    1. In NYC, real estate is king. Also in areas around NYC-see-
      http://www.bobbraunsledger.com/the-pink-hula-hoop-part-1-is-this-the-future-of-public-schools/

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    2. I guess someone is reporting in it. That guy, Braun is alright.

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    3. I think that guy Bob Braun is all right too. Sees through the deform nonsense and writes clearly and coherently so that the rest of us can see through it too.

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  13. Been while since I've had a chance to check in on this blog, still love it. Found my way back while doing the total recall of BS from the gov's administration. Did you see J. Malatras's statement in that Time's article about Coumo's politically cautious retreat?

    “There is no position of this administration with respect to this issue,” the governor’s director of state operations, Jim Malatras, said this week."


    Not only do I believe that statement is entirely false, I thought I recalled a story where Cuomo more or less threatened Chancellor Tisch-pressuring her into making "this issue" actually happen the "3 geniuses in a room" threat), and on top of that, I have had exchanges with Cuomo admin PR where they spit out the same StudentsFirst, SuccessAcademy strategery talking points (we spend so much but look-there are still kids who fail and teachers who still have jobs...how can that happen?)

    Anyways...went looking for some evidence that Cuomo certainly does have a position (and I'm pretty sure Malatras himself penned a lengthy letter of aggression and disdain, guiding the regents toward the exact positions plut a shot of a-hole steroids that have citizens outraged).

    I like that you are a source of some plain-spoken common sense, and I've always liked that weird, post apocalyptic, scarily religious pic. Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Dan.

      I think Cuomo knows exactly what he wants out of the CCSS review, protestations from Malatras, Azzopardi, et al not withstanding. My sense is, we'll get something that Cuomo can claim is real "change" that, upon further examination, will be less than meets the eye. It will of course come from the Cuomo-controlled review panel so he'll have political cover for it. And it will end up in the budget. Though of course given the dog/pony show nature of the whole exercise, they could probably release it right now if not for the need for a political narrative to hide Cuomo's fingerprints.

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