Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cuomo, Under Pressure Over His Education Reforms, Takes To Newsday To Spew Misinformation

Governor Cuomo wrote an opinion piece for Newsday in which he claims this:

"Testing" is itself a contentious issue and the testing component in teacher evaluations has been conflated with the student testing issue. I believe students are tested too often, creating undue anxiety and stressing the entire system. Many parents share this view. I have signed a law reducing the significance of testing for students, including eliminating standardized testing for students in grades K-2 and removing standardized test results from students' permanent records for five years. My proposed reforms to the evaluation system reduce the amount of testing by eliminating the existing local component of the system that leads to more testing.

At the same time, I believe that a test component should be part of the teacher evaluation and have proposed that testing comprise 50 percent of the evaluation. The State Department of Education suggests 40 percent. Still, teachers and administrators prefer that the emphasis be on classroom observation as opposed to testing. Interestingly, whatever percent is assigned to standardized testing will only affect a small minority of teacher evaluations as only 20 percent of teachers are in subjects and grades that have state testing.

Much to point out here.

First - Cuomo claims he will be reducing the stress and anxiety testing causes to the education system by eliminating the existing local component of APPR and replacing it with just the state test component.

The rationale here is that instead of having to give both state and local assessments to students in order to evaluate teachers, they'll just give the state tests and that will lower the stress and anxiety around testing.

But of course by ratcheting up the state test component from 20% to either 40% (as he says SED wants it) or 50% (as he says he wants it), he ensures that the stress and anxiety around testing will actually increase because one test will have very high stakes for teachers.  If students do not score as well as the NYSED algorithm says they should score on that test component, teachers will suffer dire career consequences as a result (including potentially losing their jobs.)

So the reality is, by eliminating the local component and increasing the state component to 40% or 50%, Cuomo will be increasing the stress and anxiety around testing, not reducing it as he says.

Next, Cuomo says that nobody should stress this whole test thing anyway because "Interestingly, whatever percent is assigned to standardized testing will only affect a small minority of teacher evaluations as only 20 percent of teachers are in subjects and grades that have state testing."

That statement is neither interesting, as Cuomo says it is, nor true.

First, if it were true, then Cuomo's earlier claims of his system being "objective and universal" couldn't be right if only "20 percent of teachers are in subjects and grades that have state testing," for how can something that subjects only 20% of the workforce to a particular evaluation criteria while letting the other 80% off the hook for that criteria be "objective and universal"?

The truth is, it can't - if the system were actually set up to only subject 20% of teachers to the test component of APPR.

But it's not set up that way - it's set up to rate 20% of teachers on their own students' performance on state tests in their subject area while rating the other 80% on a hodgepodge of student performance in tests that may or may not be in the teacher's subject area and may or may not be students these teachers actually teach. 

So the overwhelming majority of teachers will be rated on tests in subjects or grades they don't teach or on students they don't teach, yet Cuomo lying and saying it will only affect 20% of teachers - and he is still claiming this system is "objective and universal." 

Using such a hodgepodge of methods to rate teachers on test scores doesn't sound "objective and universal" to me, and that's not even going at the fairness of the value-added measurements the state is using to base these ratings on.

So let's go at the SED algorithm for the state test component.

Right now, NYSED is being sued by a teacher from Long Island who was rated ineffective on the state testing component even though all of her students passed their state tests with scores well above the state average.

SED has yet to show cause for why this teacher has been rated ineffective on her test component and has yet to even show the numbers or data to back up the rating.

They have until this month to show cause in court - but so far, no data. SED is instead trying to get the case dismissed by claiming there is "No harm, no foul" on the ineffective rating for the testing component because the teacher was still rated effective overall.

It seems that SED doesn't actually have the data to back up the ineffective rating and is instead trying to get the case dismissed on a technicality.

This doesn't surprise many of us who have been paying attention to the VAM voodoo problem for a while now - the margins of error around the testing VAM are so large and the algorithms themselves so complex that it's seemingly impossible for SED to prove the rating was fair and accurate in court.

Cuomo never mentions the voodoo part of the value-added measurements the state uses for the test component because it doesn't help his case but it's just another reason why his APPR system is junk.

Let us note that Cuomo must be under some pressure to actually feel the need to have one of his flying monkey minions pen an opinion piece for Newsday and get it run on Sunday.

The pushback is coming hard and heavy from Long Island where many parents know Cuomo's reform agenda is deceptive (at best) and destructive (at worst.)

Clearly Cuomo and his flying monkeys are trying to gain back the narrative frame they want, but this piece doesn't do it - it's full of lies, evasions and half-truths.

One last thing.  Notice that Cuomo throws around the 40% number for the test component and says that's what SED wants while he wants the 50% number for the test component.

He's already signaling a "compromise" here by tossing out the 40% number in the opinion piece, framing it between the 50% he wants and the current 20% that's in the system.

Don't be surprised if that isn't the deal the teachers unions make when they finally iron out a "compromise" with Cuomo over his agenda.

To me, that Cuomo needs to go to Newsday with an opinion piece is a sign of weakness - it tells me that we should be fighting ever harder to push back on his entire education reform agenda.

Cuomo's feeling heat on it, he's using up a lot of political capital (and he doesn't have much in the first place) on his ethics reform push and the truth is, he CAN be beaten on this education agenda.


  1. "Quip Pro Cuomo" is completely full of crap. First and foremost, we educators must have REALLY scarred him for life by NOT endorsing him. The scumbag that he is, he can't help himself by picking on one of the few professions left that has such little time on it's hands to put up a major fight (although, I sense that we are on a collision course sooner than later). Cuomo has lost whatever credibility he once had as a leader. After he lied to his own democrat colleagues about supporting them for re-election last fall (the infamous WFP endorsement over Zephyr Teachout) it is plainly obvious that he will do ANYTHING to quench his thirst for power. All of this pales in comparison with the mass purging of email in Albany. I am really shocked that Preet hasn't brought some kind of legal injunction to stop the mass erasure of email? How much more obvious can one get when there are paper trails that need to disappear? My only hope is that there is a "secret archive." We'll see ...

    NEWSDAY is a well-known anti-teacher / anti-union rag owned by the Dolan family. You have to give Cuomo credit for choosing that scandal rag for an exclusive although, most folks on L.I. now see that the paper for what it is. For a little fun, read the comments after NEWSDAY runs teacher-bashing "articles." Hilarious stuff ... but, it sells this rag.

    Prediction #1: NYSUT blinks (once again) and Cuomo gets his 40% in exchange for a "cooling off" period of education-bashing. That cooling-off period won't last because there is going to be major teacher OUTRAGE directed at NYSUT, the UFT and AFT. All are in cahoots and directly responsible for not standing up for educators!

    Prediction #2: On-time budget (NO ONE IN ALBANY WANTS TO DEAL WITH CUOMO'S EXTENDERS!) I was told by a legislator that even though HE disagrees with Cuomo on EVERY piece of his reform agenda that it is a GIVEN that educators will get "pieces" of Cuomo's package despite the fact that it's all baloney.

    Prediction #3: Shelly Silver WALKS! I know that this is tough to believe BUT, there are many legislators who will tell you that Shelly will not see any jail time. He knows too much about EVERYTHING in Albany. If he goes to prison, he'll be in good company because others will be in tow and, Albany is a cesspool of corruption.

    Prediction #4: TOTAL school aid will be $1.3 billion once the dust settles.

    Prediction #5: Preet will VERY SOON make another splash.

    Stay tuned, indeed!

    1. Hoping Prediction #5 comes true sooner rather than later.

  2. If NYSUT does not defeat Cuomo's proposal in its entirety then the union should fold, it's leaders resign and make way for a replacement organization that is worth the dues that we pay to it. There is no part of the Cuomo plan that is acceptable to me.

    His Newsday column is one big lie. It is a sure sign he sees himself on the run and in danger of sustaining a big loss. I have yet to see my own local call a meeting and explain to teachers exactly what Cuomo wants and how it could ends the careers of many and make life miserable for all, including students and parents.

    1. I agree - that he had to go to Newsday with pushback shows you how much pressure he's getting over this, esp. from LI.


    The "ABC" Club..anyone but Cuomo Club