By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — SARANAC LAKE — For the past three years, New York State Department of Education leaders have been trying to transition federal Race to the Top initiatives to every local school district.
New English and math assessment tests were given to students statewide last year, even though teaching tools for material on the tests were not in place in most school districts.
Just 31.1 percent of New York students in grades 3 through 8 met or exceeded proficiency measures in English language arts — a number that was above 50 percent.
And 31 percent met or exceeded math proficiency measures.
Teachers and their union leaders charged that those test results should not be used for the new evaluation program brought into place with Common Core reform.
The Board of Regents recommends in its new report that teachers terminated due to the test results could “raise as a defense an alleged failure by the board of education to timely implement the Common Core by providing adequate professional development, guidance on curriculum or other necessary supports to the educator during (the 2012-13 and 2013-14) school years.”
Among changes proposed by the Regents Common Core Task Force are:
• Reduction of testing times and the number of test questions on the federally required assessments for grades three through eight.
• Elimination of double testing that required seventh- and eighth-grade students who take the Regents math exams to also take the grade-level mathematics assessment.
• Delay consideration of adopting the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers until no earlier than 2015-16.
• Delay of the launch of the data dashboards related to inBloom (storage cloud private contractor) to give time for State Ed to work with legislators on concerns about data security and third-party providers used by the state and school districts.
But, State Ed added, school districts are “encouraged to use the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years to continue to build their education technology capacity to support instructional and student learning goals.”
And “additional flexibility has been provided for high-school students during the first year of the rollout of Common Core exams by allowing students the option to take the old test in addition to the new test and have the higher score count for grading and other purposes.”
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