Despite the Illusion of Local Control, NYSED Policy and Assessments Impose a Back Door Mandate Tying Teachers to EngageNY Scripts

Harry Houdini  was a Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice as “Harry Handcuff Houdini” on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to hold his breath inside a sealed milk can.

While many suspected that these escapes were faked, Houdini presented himself as the scourge of fake magicians and spiritualists. As President of the Society of American Magicians, he was keen to uphold professional standards and expose fraudulent artists. He was also quick to sue anyone who pirated his escape stunts, apparently.

Well, in my opinion, Commissioner King is much like Houdini.

A Corning, NY School is disengaging from EngageNY and nixing Common Core modules.

While that is great news, this is not to say that the school is issuing a “pseudo” repeal against Core it also doesnt mean that the district will not have to implement Core, in fact that is the farthest thing from the truth. It just means that NYSED has put schools like Corning in a most untenable position and the district has made the difficult choice to take on an incredible burden with limited resources by creating local curriculum in order to assure the quality of materials and work of their staff and to be responsive to the needs of its students, parents and educators. They should be commened for taking this step and NYSED should be booed for forcing this on districts state wide.

The Corning District claims that they intend to distance themselves from EngagenY and Core by crafting their “own” curriculum. While this is admirable, NYSED has always claimed not only is this permissable but advisable.

Indeed, I have spoken to district officials in my own school and have been assured that they do not typically rely on EngageNY modules. That said, our teachers are required to craft their own lessons aligned to core which is very difficult to do and we have also hired a Core consulting company to assist our district in implmenting core.

Districts who show a “willingness” to commit to Core and who promise to eudcate parents about Core (to suuport it) will recieve State aid for that express purpose.

Please recall, Chancellor Tisch claims that only 30% of New York’s high-school grads are college- and career-ready as the basis for moving forward at light speed with  the Common Core curriculum. Ms. Tisch has used some of the $696.6 million in federal Race to the Top funding to help develop the new teacher-evaluation system, a data portal that provides school statistics, and a set of certification exams for teachers. The measures were implemented in the 2013-2014 school year.

“We are asking people to do a lot of things very quickly; people will criticize us for our timeline, but we can’t wait anymore,” said Ms. Tisch, 57. In April, New York’s 2.7 million public-school students took the Common Core assessments for the first time, they were riddled with mistakes and most of them bombed those exams to NO fault of educators.…/20130623/NEWS/623009999/29

While Chancellor Tisch and King claim that Core is widely accepted, the Regents are divided on the issue. You can read more about that in my blog post  about the Regents breaching public trust by holding the Core Task Force in violation of OML here:

What has not been said, is that although NYSED claims that districts and teachers are not tied to the modules — scripted 10-week units that they are to follow- in order to  pass the assessments and recieve positive teacher evaluations, the simple reality and truth is that they must follow the scripted modules, they really have little choice in the matter. Under Common Core, the state administers mandatory assessments based on the standards.  The results are used for student promotion or graduation, teacher evaluation, and school district reward or punishment. If every district MUST teach the one curriculum that is aligned to the one assessment that measures the one standard or face negative consequences for students, teachers, and schools, what happened to local control?

At its March meeting, the Board of Regents adopted revised principal and teacher evaluation regulations to implement Education Law 3012-c, as amended by Chapter 21 of the Laws of 2012 (S.6732/A.9554), effective April 4, 2012.

While I realize that APPR mandates are statutory and this flawed policy rests with those who enacted and passed the measure, I cannot blame the Regents, legislature or Cuomo for misleading parents and educators becuase it is Commissioner King who insists, despite the evidence, that districts are “free” to implement local curriculum in spite of the reality existing as a result of Core and APPR.

Despite Commissioner King’s claim assuring districts that Core is a standard not a curriculum and that districts retain full local control over said curriculum, a closer look of the revised principal and teacher evaluation law demonstrates that “local control” is really just an illusion: up to 25 percent of a grade 3-8 Math or ELA teacher’s annual evaluation is based on the grade-level state assessment, and I know for a fact that the message at area common core trainings is that questions on the assessments will be structured exactly like those on the modules.

School districts in New York were offered no time to actually analyze and evaluate the modules feeding to the assessmensts in order to develop individual, local curriucula. More compelling, is the fact that the assessments are veiled in secrecy so neither teachers or districts are provided the oportunity or know to expect. Even the fomat of the test is kep top secret. It is no wonder the students historically do better on tests the second time around, because they feel more comfortable with something as simple as format which, timed, can anxiety provoking to no fault of a teacher.

Assessments, in New York, are shipped in a lock box with security protocols that rival the CIA. The exams are required to be “vaulted”.

Here is NYSEDs  Test Distribution page:

While I understand the need to preserve the integrity of the tests from possible misappropriation by educators, what is more than problematic is the worry that the tests themselves are not sound and NYSED provides NO provision or means for educators to hold tests producers accoutable for the quality of the product and the substance of those tests.

New York State assesssments are rife breeding ground for error and substandard quality in test questions that have a large impact on student performance.

In this 2012 Crain article, Tisch purports to criticise Pearson testing corp. for test flubs questionning the integrity of the testing process.

Educators who support Tisch in this artice revere her bc, they claim, a one size fits all approach doesnt work which is ironic, what is Core?

But, there is no quality control independent of NYSED which is largely the problem.

Tisch proposed a “Testing Integrity Unit” to be funded to assure the integrity of Pearsons tests due to the embarrssing flub.

While Regents Chancellor Tisch is quick to scorn Pearson, she is slow to hold King accoutable for the vast many mistakes he has made in recent weeks.

Do we need to point out to Tisch how hypocritical she is being right now?

Perhaps the Regents missed EngageNY’s “sexy bitch” quizzes.

The purported test Integrity Unit  is here: Makes no mention of quality control for materials provided by NYSEDs EngageNY.

In other words, as many parents and educators are finding out, there many examples to show that EngageNY offers less than setallar resources.

Dont let NYSED fool you with these post facto responses, the bottom line, is that in order for teachers to meet APPR or at least obtain good performance evaluations, then students need to do well on those Core aligned tests  – which tests are based exactly on the scripted EngageNY modules!

NYSEDs attempts to persuade people that districts maintain local control is an insult to the intelligence of parents and educators across the State.

NYSEDs claim that districts have local control to develop their own curriculum is nothing short of a smoke and mirrors show and an optical illusion.

Truth be told, this is a back-door mandate tying teachers to EngageNY scripts.

But, as we have seen from his behavior as of late, Commissioner King summarily dismisses facts, is disconnect from reality, gets himself into trouble yet he makes his way out of everything.

Seriously, I think King must believe he is Houdini!

This excellent paper from Pioneer Institute details “How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education”. It is a must read.

A Republic of Republics 9 5 13 (1)

Expert in RTT and Core, Dr. Peg Luksik discusses the 4 Freedoms of Core:

For those who are local, Dr. Lusksik will be speaking on 2/5/14 from 7-9pm at the Poughkeepsie Grand. Please see the event details here:

Related Links/Resources:

On March 14, 2012, the Assembly and Senate passed the revised teacher and principal evaluation law proposed by the Governor (S.6732/A. 9554).

On March 27, 2012, the Governor signed the revised teacher and principal evaluation law as Chapter 21 of the Laws of 2012.

Section 3012-c, as amended by Chapter 21 of the Laws of 2012, can be found at:$$EDN3012-C$$@TXEDN03012C+&LIST=LAW+&BROWSER=EXPLORER+&TOKEN=49865177+&TARGET=VIEW.

The revised regulations can be found at:

NYSED APPR Resources:

A Film about Houdini

Cuomo seems to agree with the utterly flawed rationale.

And, to no surprise of mine, so does Chancellor Tisch.

Test Security


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