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Snap Poll: Majority support changing school evaluation standards

Following the New York State Board of Regents’ approval of the state’s plan for evaluating and improving its schools, New York can now submit its plan for complying with the Every Student Succeeds Act to the federal Department of Education for review and approval.

The plan would continue with the evaluation of elementary and middle schools based on English and math test scores, and high schools based on graduation rates. However, other measures—including performance on science and social studies exams, college and career readiness, and chronic absenteeism—would also be taken into account.

Of the schools receiving Title I federal funds, which go to low-income schools and high schools with six-year graduation rates below 67 percent, the lowest-performing 5 percent would be identified for comprehensive support and improvement. Schools that fail to get off this list—which comes with additional funding and supervision and a requirement to select a school improvement strategy from a state-approved list—after three years would move into the state’s receivership program and could ultimately close.

This week’s RBJ Snap Poll asked readers their opinions on some of the changes proposed in New York’s plan. Nearly half—48 percent—strongly support changing the evaluation standards to include things other than test scores and graduation rates.

About 300 respondents participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Sept. 12 and 13.

How do you feel about New York evaluating schools on more than just student test scores and graduation rates?

Strongly support – 48%

Support – 39%

Oppose – 7%

Strongly oppose – 7%

COMMENTS:

Schools are there to teach and to graduate students. What else is there that is important?

—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield

They need to be evaluated on projects. Some children learn hands on. They need to bring back the trades where students can learn, feel successful about what they are learning and become productive citizens in society. There is a lot of science, math comprehensive reading in auto mechanics, construction, roofing, HVAC, electrician, welding, cooking, etc.

—Jennifer Apetz

By basing the review on additional areas we get a better understanding of the issues. These can be addressed better to get the school off the list sooner.

—Steve Fernaays

The NY Board of Regents has a decades long track record of great schools across NY. However, this latest revamping of the evaluation process is the result of having to comply with yet another Federal program. The US Dept. of Education was established in 1978. We’ve had nothing but deteriorating educational results since its founding. Isn’t it time to take control of our own education system? We could start by eliminating the US Dept. of Education.

—John Calia, Fairport

Standardized test scores and grad rates tell very little about the character of a school. The best prepared students—whether they move on to further education or military service or skilled trades—are more likely to come from schools with a rich curriculum and a broad array of extracurricular activities. Instrumental and vocal music, art, athletics, career and technical education options should be available in schools in order to meet the needs of ALL students.

—Tom Gillett, NYSUT

Goodhart’s law: When any measure becomes a target for success, it ceases to be a useful proxy for the outcomes it is intended to measure (because people are incentivized to inflate the measurement rather than pursue the actual intended outcomes). The more measurements that can be used, the harder it will be to “game the system” and thus the more likely we will be to pursue the actual outcomes.

—Andrew Brady

I strongly support, however I have grave reservations that the outcome will be any different. Probably, we should now REALLY concentrate on math, science, English, when we get this under control, expand the testing area. Bottom line: Sooner or later, we are going to have to wake up and understand “just throwing more money at the problem” is NOT WORKING!!

—JA DePaolis, Penfield

We need to enhance the learning experience for each and every child in the Public Schools. Their future in our society depends on such an approach…Children need all the guidance we can provide and the chance to make a real difference in their own lives. Test Scores are just one indicator…important but not the only measurement…attendance and participation are important as well. The excitement to learn comes from our teachers and the curriculum. I loved learning every chance I got…hopefully it is shared with all students.

—J. Montieth Estes

New York needs to stop dropping student standards. Most NY public schools, that have college bound students, need to pass 1st-year remedial college reading, writing, English, and math. Is it not enough that most students can not read or write upon graduation, other than what is on their smartphones. That name smartphone is a real misnomer. Proof: English in high school classes, is now a student’s 2nd language, surpassed only by their smartphone skills. New York School Districts need to be held accountable for the amount of money we NY taxpayers spend per student for only 180 days of 5 hours per day, classroom time. Because we spend twice the national average per child for their so called public education. It is cheaper to send a student to most public colleges for a year (not including room and board) then it is to send them to a year of pre-k-12 public schools. How do I know, I have been a substitute teacher since 2008.

—G Palis

Federal oversight of education is unconstitutional. The high stakes curriculum for teachers/administrators/students is counter productive. Testing of our children, and that data gathering/sharing should have parents concerned. Opting out will become mandated test taking. If schools do not meet the testing requirements than school boards will be removed and replaced with government control charters. Schools, education should be locally accountable; know and teach the U.S. Constitution.

—Vicki Vetere

If there are proven strategies for improving schools, why aren’t they required for all schools in the lowest-performing half of schools? Why would you give failing schools more funding? New York spends by far the most per pupil on K-12 education, yet New York’s overall performance is middling at best, and horrible in the Rochester City School District.

—Karen Zilora,
Creative Scanning Solutions, Inc.

Would like to see some ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS as to why absenteeism is so high.

—Jim Bongard

There is already testing in place and standardized testing in place for NY students. Teachers need more time to teach and less time testing. The Federal Government should have to show just cause before demanding more testing. Renaming Common Core does not make it any better.

—Dave Fister

I would rather see NYS put their energy into evaluating generational differences in how student populations have changed and how they learn over the last several decades. I feel we need to embrace this millennial generation in all aspects especially in the classroom. There should be a focus on enhancing their k-12 experience specifically on social media positive & negative uses and other technological education, along with just getting back to the basics of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. This idea of teaching utilizing Common Core curriculum is clearly NOT WORKING. I feel if we go back to the basic fundamentals of learning and partnering those basics with teaching how to use technology, social media & other modern technology applications that are available to this generation, we will finally start to catch up with what many other countries have already been doing in the classroom for many years.

—Sherri Catone

Test scores alone should not be the basis for a school’s rating! There are many other factors to consider, including ESOL and LEAP students.

—Aimee Gasparre

I’d like to see more accountability focused on the top from state mandates to administrations. It has seemed for years we have bureaucrats making grand plans and then sitting back and watching the teachers in the trenches trying to make these pie in the sky programs work. Maybe we need to separate teaching from social work. Both are needs, but evaluating needs for these two issues more understandable. Mostly we as a community can’t continue we fail our children.

—Daniel Herpst, Rochester

So much of how schools perform come down to demographics and resources of the parents and guardians. A lot of districts and cities in this state have transient or populations in high poverty. Some districts do have stable populations, valuable properties, and parents that can be fully invested in their children’s education. All facets of an education should be taken into account for any evaluations. While math and English skills are critical to be proficient in, they are by no means the only way to judge a district or its population of students. Instead of constantly trying to improve and evaluate schools, let’s continue to improve communities and develop stable households.

—Keith Newcomer

One comment

  1. Take a break from Common Core, stop exesive testing, stop saying everyone needs to be college bound. Let teachers teach from a position of passion. Gut Central Office

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