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March 17, 2014

Common Core, state aid complicate budgets

SARANAC LAKE — Issues with education reform are adding pitch to outcry against state school-aid cuts.

Part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive spending plan looks to connect school aid to teacher evaluations, which are currently pulled, in part, from test scores captured in the Common Core curriculum.

Cuomo is looking to thread education finance reform through that system.

His budget preview looked forward to the “establishment of an annual professional performance review system (APPR) ... that links state aid increases to school district implementation of the APPR.”

But the review system is in flux, challenged by the testing core.

CHANGES URGED

A panel of 11 experts has recommended numerous changes to Common Core, altering the way the State Education Department will roll out measurable education reform.

The panel suggested students be held harmless by “high-stakes” assessment tests, keeping scores out of permanent records and away from grade-promotion decisions.

The panel recommended giving teachers more time to build Common Core modules into their classrooms before testing measures are put in place.

EVALUATIONS

Some of the recommendations mirrored legislation put in motion months ago by Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), but she noticed a catch in protections offered from the test scores.

“It is interesting to me that the panel and the governor support ‘protecting students from high stakes (scores) based on unfair test results,’ which is clearly the appropriate action to take. 

“However, the panel and the governor appear to believe teachers should still be evaluated on the performance of their students, who are not expected to do well on these same ‘unfair tests,’ and this is clearly not an appropriate action. 

“I’ve not talked to a single teacher who was opposed to a fair and honest evaluation, but the evaluations should not be based on poor scores when proper preparation is just not available to the teachers,” Duprey said.

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