New York state could lose nearly $300 million in Race to the Top funds if the state follows through on a proposal to put off incorporating test scores from common-core-aligned exams in teacher evaluation.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and policymakers in the state are mulling plans to put off using scores on new common core tests as a factor in teacher evaluations, after widespread complaints about the rollout of the standards in the Empire State, according to published reports. Adding to the pressure: State test scores fell sharply last year when the new common core tests were in place.
But delaying the use of the tests in evaluations would run afoul of the state's plan for improving teacher effectiveness, as outlined in its Race to the Top proposal, and could result in a loss of coveted federal funding, said Ann Whalen, the director of the department's implementation and support unit in a statement first provided to the online news site Chalkbeat New York.
The state eventually put into place a compromise that keeps test scores as part of evaluations but allows teachers who are tied to the CCSS test scores an opportunity to appeal bad ratings.
The sad thing is, this was a perfect opportunity to make progress on two fronts - canning the use of test scores in teacher evaluations (known as Voodoo VAM in these parts) and forcing the USDOE to take back what's left of the RttT money, thus saving the state's children, teachers and schools future Race to the Top reforminess.
We know that in NYC, almost 78% of the RttT money was spent on nothing more than the NYCDOE central office and consultants - in other words, very little of the RttT money made it to individual schools, let alone classrooms, students or teachers.
On top of that, think about all the other changes NY State had to put into place to "win" the RttT money - the evaluation changes, the state standards changes, the changes to the state tests, the data tracking programs (most famously inBloom Inc.) - how much money, in the end, did "winning" the Race to the Top contest actually cost NY State taxpayers and just what return on that investment are they getting?
What they got is a whole heap of upheaval, a lot of changes to the school system, many more tests for their children to take (many of which are given simply to grade and evaluate teachers, not students) and a ton of money spent on consultants, bureaucrats, test development, and computer programs to track all of the changes.
Back in June when the USDOE was threatening to pull NY's RttT money away, I thought "Great! Couldn't be a better way to end the school year than have Arne Duncan take away NY's test development/evaluation money in a fit of pique!"
And now, nearly a month later when we get the data to show that NYC wasted its RttT money on bullshit, I maintain the same stance on the issue.
Nothing could be better than instituting changes to the system that forces the hacks at the Obama USDOE to pull the RttT money away.