PSA: Possible Breach/Exposure of Student Information Affecting Students in Ulster County Boces Region

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An incident has come to my attention that all  parents Ulster County BOCES region should be aware of. There has been possible breach/exposure of student information by New Wave Technologies, a vendor providing web based technologies to teachers for use in schools. The story is developing. Please see below for what we know right now.

It has come to light that Ulster County BOCES shared private student data with a for profit company NewWay Technologies to develop “new data visualization tools” that would allow teachers to analyze student test scores on iPhones, tablets, and computers.

National renowned student data privacy advocate Leonie Haimson discovered that New Way Technology was using the names and data of Ulster County students in it’s promotional videos which were taken down on September 29th. Numerous screenshots reveal the names of real students from districts throughout Ulster County. Each name is associated with an id number, a test score, and a school/school district.

While it appears that the real student names have been assigned to fake school districts or districts other than the one they attend, it is unclear if the test scores and student IDs have been changed.

This egregious violation raises many questions- Why would Ulster Boces share private, personally identifiable student data with a for-profit company? How and where else has this data been shared? In 2014 Rondout Valley CSD purchased this technology which was created by a partnership between New Way Technologies and Ulster Boces Superintendent Charles Khoury.

According to a 2014 press release on the company’s website:

“Dr. Charles Khoury, District Superintendent of Ulster BOCES, partnered with NewWay Technologies to develop new data visualization tools, using modern analytic technology, to present student state assessment data in a clean, easy to use, simplified meaningful way on any device (PC, MAC, iPad or any mobile device). … About Ulster BOCES: Ulster BOCES serves 8 component districts, Ellenville, Highland, Kingston, New Paltz, Onteora, Rondout Valley, Saugerties, and Wallkill. “

The extent to which student information is being shared and whether they are using real student test score data along with the student names is not yet known.

More information will be released when it becomes available.

Please support New York’s lost standards.

Tell Cuomo’s common core commission that there is a simple answer to a problem that seems to have elude commissions and panels before them… reinstate the NYS Lost Standards, The only homemade, developmentally appropriate, rigorous and higher standard parents and educators will accept for our public school children!

stopcommoncorenys

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We all know common core is headed for a name change, especially insert this farce of a review commission, which consists of all common core deformers.

The Hudson Valley Alliance for Public Education and Stop Common Core in NY blog, ask that you take back up your pens, keyboards, and phones to request this ridiculous joke of a process be circumvented. We do not accept a rebranding of the common core curriculum. Minor tweaks are NOT ENOUGH. We ask that the “lost New York State standards” be used to replace the horrendous common core standards.

Please review these standards here:

http://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/2014/05/10/common-core-derailed-ny-standards/8918925/.

https://criticalclassrooms.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/the-inconvenient-lost-standards-of-nys-why-deformers-prefer-common-core-for-evaluating-teachers/.

Anna Shah shares:

“Governor Cuomo’s triple “C” panel of “experts” has all their work cut out for them already!

If the governor is truly interested in “reviewing”, “conducting a reboot” and “overhauling” the common core standards to make them unique and developmentally appropriate for New York, then perhaps…

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Hudson Valley Parents: Cuomo’s Commission is a Farce

Hudson Valley parents express their outrage and disapproval over Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Commission Farce, Diane Ravitch reports:

Diane Ravitch's blog

Parents in the Hudson Valley of New York are outraged by Cuomo’s commission to review the Common Core standards and tests.

This is a region that encompasses both high wealth and high poverty. It had some of the highest opt out numbers in the state.

Here is a large sample:

After conceding that “evidence of failure is everywhere”, Governor Cuomo recently announced his fifteen member 2015 Common Core Commission. Billed as an opportunity to cure an “implementation” problem, the commission is notably lacking in any representation of elementary school parents, let alone critics of the Common Core. Parents across the Hudson Valley reject yet another pointless commission that ignores the concerns of parents and educators.

“A panel of advisors hand picked by Chancellor Tisch made recommendations about the Common Core Learning Standards to the Regents in February 2014 and the Governor himself was responsible for putting together a Common Core…

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Governor’s Common Core Commission is a Farce

Must read, Hudson Valley parents respond to Governor Cuomo’s new “panel” in their own words: Governor’s Common Core Commission is a Farce!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2015
For more information contact:
Anna Shah (914) 475-8889
hva4pe@gmail.com

Governor’s Common Core Commission is a Farce

After conceding that “evidence of failure is everywhere”, Governor Cuomo recently announced his fifteen member 2015 Common Core Commission. Billed as an opportunity to cure an “implementation” problem, the commission is notably lacking in any representation of elementary school parents, let alone critics of the Common Core.  Parents across the Hudson Valley reject yet another pointless commission that ignores the concerns of parents and educators.

“A panel of advisors hand picked by  Chancellor Tisch made recommendations about the Common Core Learning Standards to the Regents in February 2014 and the Governor himself was responsible for putting together a Common Core Implementation Panel who made  recommendations in March 2014. Now, over a year and half later, the Governor admits that “failure is everywhere”. The Governor keeps asking for time…

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SED Dismisses Refuse the Test/Sit and Stare Appeal But Parents Still Have Rights

Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY

The below Decision was recently issued by Commissioner Beth Berlin on an appeal filed by parents who refused the test and appealed the districts sit and stare policy. Its no surprise to me, the Commissioner dismissed the appeal at the outset on a procedural grounds. Beyond that, the Commissioner also dismissed the appeal on the merits. Thats the bad news.

The good news, is that this doesnt mean that you should NOT refuse the grades 3-8 state assessments, you should.

This does NOT mean that you should simply accept it if your district is sit and stare, by all means challenge it!

All this means, is that if your district doesnt cooperate and you file an appeal to SED, you will likely not be successful – so save your money.

Lobby your BOE to make changes regarding sit and stare and lobby the BOE to implement an alternate activity, the…

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SED Dismisses Refuse the Test/Sit and Stare Appeal But Parents Still Have Rights

The below Decision was recently issued by Commissioner Beth Berlin on an appeal filed by parents who refused the test and appealed the districts sit and stare policy. Its no surprise to me, the Commissioner dismissed the appeal at the outset on a procedural grounds. Beyond that, the Commissioner also dismissed the appeal on the merits. Thats the bad news.

The good news, is that this doesnt mean that you should NOT refuse the grades 3-8 state assessments, you should.

This does NOT mean that you should simply accept it if your district is sit and stare, by all means challenge it!

All this means, is that if  you file an appeal to SED looking for help and relief,  dont waste your time, you will likely not be successful – so save your money.

Lobby your BOE to make changes regarding sit and stare and lobby the BOE to implement an alternate activity, the BOE absolutely has the right and power to do so.

Lobby your BOE to cooperate with parents right to refuse the test because as parents you do have the right to refuse the grade 3-8 state tests in ELA and Math.

Lobby your elected officials to change this insanity so we can take back our schools and by all means, VOTE!

Know your rights, after all parents can’t be bought, and they can’t be bullied. And we vote.

http://dianeravitch.net/2015/09/08/the-opt-out-movement-is-parent-led-and-cant-be-captured-or-stopped/

SED Decision: Verrico v Williams Cerntral School BOE et al:

Appeal of JAMES A. VERRICO and SHIRLEY T. VERRICO, on behalf of their daughter MICHAELA, from action of the Board of Education of the Williamsville Central School District and Superintendent Scott G. Martzloff regarding state assessments.

Decision No. 16,786

Harris Beach PLLC, attorneys for respondents, Laura M. Purcell, Esq., of counsel

BERLIN, Acting Commissioner.–Petitioners appeal the actions of the Board of Education of the Williamsville Central School District (“board”) and Superintendent Scott G. Martzloff (“superintendent”) (collectively “respondents”) regarding their administration of state assessments during the 2013-2014 school year. The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2013-2014 school year, petitioners’ daughter, Michaela, attended seventh grade in respondents’ district. According to petitioners, beginning April 1, 2014, Michaela was scheduled to sit for the 2014 state assessments in English Language Arts (“ELA”) and math.

According to respondents, the district is required by federal law and the Commissioner’s regulations to administer state assessments. As such, the district does not provide alternate locations for students who refuse to complete their tests and does not permit students to bring extraneous materials into the testing rooms or otherwise complete their examinations before the expiration of the required minimum testing period.

According to petitioners, by letter dated February 24, 2014, petitioners submitted a request to the principal of Michaela’s school that she be scored “as a ‘refusal’ for the upcoming NY State testing in ELA and math.” In addition, petitioners requested that Michaela be allowed “to read silently during the administration of the tests.”

According to petitioners, on March 6, 2014, petitioner Shirley T. Verrico and three other parents met with the superintendent “to request that the District abolish the ‘sit and stare’ policy and allow students refusing the test to be permitted to read silently during the tests.” The parties have differing accounts of the meeting. According to respondents, the superintendent reviewed the portions of guidance from the New York State Education Department (“Department”), which stated that there was no provision for “opting out” of state assessments and that the privilege of reading was discretionary. He further advised the parents that “he would call them if NYSED released additional guidance that impacted the District’s determination to not allow reading or an alternative activity.” Following the March 6 meeting, petitioners emailed the superintendent to once again request that the district change its policy to allow students, including their daughter, to read during state assessments. The superintendent responded that he would “be in touch” with them by March 12, 2014, “at the latest.” On March 14, 2014, in response to a follow-up email from petitioner James A. Verrico the superintendent responded that he had “no new information to share at this time. Thank you for your continued patience.”

On March 21, 2014, the principal of Michaela’s school called petitioner Shirley T. Verrico to “acknowledge receipt of her letter and to share with her the testing protocols that would be used.” While the parties dispute the sum and substance of the conversation, petitioners allege that the principal advised that there would be “no change to the District’s ‘sit and stare’ policy.” This appeal ensued. Petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied on April 3, 2014.

Petitioners assert that respondents have implemented a “sit and stare” policy that is “unquestionably punitive, educationally unsound, arbitrary, unnecessary and not in the best interest of the child.” They claim that the policy as it relates to Michaela would require her to “sit and stare” for 70 to 90 minutes and be deprived of mandatory classroom instruction in violation of Education Law §§3204, 3205, and/or 3210. Additionally, they claim that respondents’ policy is “contrary to the ‘2014 Common Core ELA Tests Teacher’s Directions’ which permits students taking the NYSED standardized tests to read quietly after completion of their tests.” Petitioners claim that respondents also apply the policy to students who refuse to take the test and are absent during test administration – by requiring them to “sit and stare” for the same amount of time upon their return to school. Petitioners assert that the policy is a form of corporal punishment and constitutes harassment and bullying in violation of the Dignity for All Students Act (“DASA”). Petitioners request that Michaela “be permitted to sit in the back of her classroom, or in an appropriate, separate location within her school building, and be permitted to read quietly” during the duration of the 2013-2014 state assessments. Petitioners further request that respondents be “prohibited from implementing and enforcing the ‘sit and stare’ policy during the NYSED standardized tests scheduled from April 1-3, 2014 and/or April 30 – May 2, 2014, and for all such future NYSED standardized tests.”

Respondents assert that the appeal must be dismissed as moot, for lack of proper service, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and based on petitioners’ failure to meet their burden of proof. They contend, among other things, that petitioners lack authority to opt their children out of state testing. Respondents maintain that they do not require that students “sit and stare” and that their practices are in accordance with State and federal law, regulations and guidance.

I must first address the procedural issues. Respondents assert that petitioners’ reply[1] contains new allegations, claims, and evidence, and realleges facts contained in the petition. The purpose of a reply is to respond to new material or affirmative defenses set forth in an answer (8 NYCRR §§275.3 and 275.14). A reply is not meant to buttress allegations in the petition or to belatedly add assertions that should have been in the petition (Appeal of Caswell, 48 Ed Dept Rep 472, Decision No. 15,920; Appeal of Hinson, 48 id. 437, Decision No. 15,908; Appeal of Baez, 48 id. 418, Decision No. 15,901). Therefore, while I have reviewed the reply, I have not considered those portions containing new allegations or exhibits that are not responsive to new material or affirmative defenses set forth in the answer.

Respondents assert that the petition must be dismissed for lack of proper service. Section 275.8(a) of the Commissioner’s regulations requires that the petition be personally served upon each named respondent. If a school district is named as a respondent, service upon the school district shall be made personally by delivering a copy of the petition to the district clerk, to any trustee or any member of the board of education, to the superintendent of schools, or to a person in the office of the superintendent who has been designated by the board of education to accept service (8 NYCRR §275.8[a]; Appeal of Peterson, 48 Ed Dept Rep 530, Decision No. 15,939; Appeal of Naab, 48 id. 339, Decision No. 15,877). According to their affidavit of service, petitioners served one copy of the petition upon the district clerk. Petitioners name both the board and the superintendent as respondents in this appeal. While the petition was properly served upon respondent board through the district clerk, petitioners failed to submit an affidavit of service indicating that the superintendent was personally served. In their reply, petitioners acknowledge this defect in service and state that respondents are “united in interest” and that the superintendent waived his objection to service to appearing in the proceeding and has suffered no harm. Petitioners contend that, in any event, they cured the defect by mailing a second copy to respondents’ attorneys together with their reply. However, because petitioners failed to personally serve a copy of the petition on the superintendent in accordance with §275.8 of the Commissioner’s regulations, the appeal must be dismissed as to the superintendent for lack of proper service (see Appeal of McCarthy, 50 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 16,208).

The appeal must be dismissed as moot. The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 Ed Dept Rep 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937; Appeal of Embro, 48 id. 204, Decision No. 15,836). The record reflects that petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied on April 3, 2014, and that, on April 1, 2014, the district implemented its testing procedures. Petitioners note in their petition that, “[f]ailure to grant a stay will render this Petition moot.” Accordingly, the appeal must be dismissed as moot.

To the extent petitioners seek relief as to “all such future NYSED standardized tests” in their petition, I note that the Commissioner will not render an advisory opinion on an issue before it becomes justiciable (Appeal of B.R. and M.R., 48 Ed Dept Rep 291, Decision No. 15,861; Appeal of Lachler, 47 id. 455, Decision No. 15,752). In any case, as discussed below, petitioners have failed to carry their burden in this regard.

Even if the appeal were not dismissed on procedural grounds, it would be dismissed on the merits. In an appeal to the Commissioner, a petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and the burden of establishing the facts upon which petitioner seeks relief (8 NYCRR §275.10; Appeal of Aversa, 48 Ed Dept Rep 523, Decision No. 15,936; Appeal of Hansen, 48 id. 354, Decision No. 15,884; Appeal of P.M., 48 id. 348, Decision No. 15,882). On this record, petitioners have failed to carry their burden of establishing that the district acted arbitrarily or capriciously in its practice of administering the state assessments and that they are entitled to the relief requested

In support of their claim that respondents’ alleged “sit and stare” policy is arbitrary and capricious, petitioners rely on the 2014 New York State Testing Program Teacher’s Directions (“Teacher’s Directions”)[2] for the proposition that the Teacher’s Directions “permits students taking the NYSED standardized tests to read quietly after completion of their tests.” According to petitioners, “[o]nce a child has refused to take the test, his or her test is complete. To argue or suggest that a child refusing the test has not completed it is a transparent use of semantics over substance.”

I note that, as part of the program requirements for grades three through eight, Commissioner’s regulations specifically require that school districts annually administer ELA and math assessments in those grades and science assessments in grades four and eight (8 NYCRR §§100.3[b][2][i][a] and [b]; 100.4[b][2][ii]; 100.4[e][1],[2] and [4]). These regulatory requirements conform with the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”), which requires, inter alia, that the Department, as a state educational agency, implement a system of annual assessments in ELA and math for all students in grades three through eight and in science at least once in grades three through five and grades six through nine (see 20 USC §6311[b][3]).

As respondents correctly note, there exists no authority for parents to opt their children out of participation in required state assessments[3] and school districts are therefore not required to provide a child who has refused the assessment with an alternate location or to allow such child to read other materials while other children are taking their assessments. Indeed, the Teacher’s Directions state under “Test Format and Schedule” as follows:

Students who finish their test before the allocated time expires should be encouraged to go back and check their work. Once the student checks his or her work, or chooses not to, test materials may be collected by the proctor. After a student’s test materials are collected, that student may be permitted to read silently. This privilege is granted at the discretion of each school. No talking and no other schoolwork is permitted. If all students complete the test earlier than the allotted time, you may end the session (emphasis in original).

Thus, according to the Department’s guidelines, school districts have discretion, but are not required, to permit students to read silently if they finish their test before the allotted test administration expires.

As noted above, respondents maintain that they do not implement a “sit and stare policy” and that their actions are not arbitrary or capricious and are in all respects consistent with applicable law, regulation and guidance. Respondents explain that the district’s testing procedures are:

in place in an effort to maintain an appropriate testing environment for all students. It is the District’s view that allowing any student to read non-assessment materials during the administration period, whether or not the student completes the assessment, can be a distraction for other students.

Moreover, as respondents note, the Department’s 2014 School Administrator’s Manual for the grades three through eight ELA and math tests, of which I take judicial notice, specifically states that “[s]chools do not have any obligation to provide an alternative location or activities for individual students while the tests are being administered.”

Accordingly, on this record, I cannot conclude that petitioners have carried their burden of establishing that respondents’ test administration policies are arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion.

I have reviewed petitioners’ remaining contentions and find them to be without merit.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE

[1] According to their affidavit of service, respondents’ answer was served on April 15, 2014. Petitioners submit a “reply” dated April 11, 2014, which appears to be in response to respondents’ opposition to petitioners’ request for interim relief.

[2] A separate Teacher’s Directions exists for the grades three, four, and five ELA tests; the grades three, four, and five mathematics tests; the grades six, seven, and eight ELA tests; and the grades six, seven, and eight math tests. Each Teacher’s Directions contains a table listing the days of testing for each subject area and the allotted test administration time, ranging from 60 to 90 minutes of test time, plus ten minutes of preparation time. The allotted test administration time is the testing time established by the Department within which students must finish the test. Each Teacher’s Directions contains identical language regarding students who finish their test before the allocated time expires.

[3] In denying a request for temporary restraining order against a school district’s imposition of discipline on their child for refusal to take state assessments, a federal court noted that the “[p]laintiffs have not cited any case suggesting that a student has a right to abstain from taking a test on First Amendment grounds” (Barber v. State of New York, et al., 2013 WL 1773631 [W.D.N.Y.]). The court noted that “[t]he only case cited by the plaintiffs in their memorandum of law in support of their motion for a Temporary Restraining Order is the 1944 United States Supreme Court case of Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 166, where the Court stated that ‘the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder.’ Plaintiffs, however, fail to cite the portion of Prince which holds that while parents are the primary fount of care, custody, and nuture of a child, ‘the state as parens patriae may restrict the parent’s control by requiring school attendance, regulating or prohibiting the child’s labor, and in many other ways.’ Accordingly, Prince in no way suggests that a parent has a Constitutional right to prohibit a child from taking a standardized test” (Barber v. State of New York, et al., 2013 WL 1773631 [W.D.N.Y.]).

Another one:

Appeal of DAWN MERRITT, on behalf of her son LUKE, from action of the Board of Education of the Alden Central School District regarding state assessments.

Appeal of WENDY STENCHENFINGER, on behalf of her son AARON, from action of the Board of Education of the Alden Central School District regarding state assessments.

Decision No. 16,787

(July 3, 2015)

Hodgson Russ LLP, attorneys for respondent, Andrew J. Freedman, Esq., of counsel

BERLIN, Acting Commissioner.–In two separate appeals, petitioners challenge the actions of the Board of Education of the Alden Central School District (“board” or “respondent”) regarding its administration of state assessments during the 2013-2014 school year. Because the appeals present similar issues of fact and law, they are consolidated for decision. The appeals must be dismissed.

During the 2013-2014 school year, petitioner Merritt’s son, Luke, and petitioner Stenchenfinger’s son, Aaron, attended seventh grade in respondent’s district. Although not entirely clear, petitioners allege that, beginning at the end of January 2014, they had various communications with respondent’s interim superintendent and the principal of their sons’ school regarding respondent’s policy for administration of the 2013-2014 state assessments. Petitioners ultimately informed the interim superintendent and principal that they “would not permit” the district “to administer any standardized assessments for the 2013-14 school year to [their children].” According to petitioners, respondent has a “sit and stare” policy in which students who opt out of testing are “‘to remain seated and silent in the testing classroom, unless otherwise directed by the NYSED.’” According to respondent, the district does not have a written policy addressing whether students can read silently during state assessments if they finish their test before the allocated time expires or if they refuse to take a state assessment. However, its practice is to allow students who complete their test before the allocated time expires – or who refuse to take a state assessment and the minimum time to take the test expires – to read silently.

Petitioners allege that, at a March 6, 2014 board meeting, the interim superintendent informed the board, petitioners, and the “attending public” that he would keep the “sit and stare” policy in place until “further directives” from the New York State Education Department (“Department”). At the meeting, the board president advised that the board would follow the interim superintendent’s advice. These appeals ensued. Petitioners’ requests for interim relief were denied on March 28, 2014.

Petitioners assert that respondent has implemented a “sit and stare” policy that is educationally unsound, abusive, harmful, and punitive in nature, constitutes harassment and bullying, and creates a hostile environment. Petitioners request that I direct respondent to permit their sons to sit in the back of their regular classrooms, or in an appropriate, separate location within their school building, and read quietly during the duration of the 2013-2014 state assessments.

Respondent asserts that the appeals must be dismissed as moot and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Respondent maintains that it does not require that students “sit and stare” and that its practices are in accordance with State and federal law, regulations and guidance.

The appeals must be dismissed as moot. The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 Ed Dept Rep 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937; Appeal of Embro, 48 id. 204, Decision No. 15,836). The record reflects that petitioners’ requests for interim relief were denied on March 28, 2014, and, on April 1, 2014, the district implemented its testing procedures.[1] Each petitioner notes in her petition that, “[i]f no such stay is granted, and this Petition is not decided prior to the giving of the first assessment, this Petition will be rendered moot.” Accordingly, the appeals must be dismissed as moot.

Even if the appeals were not dismissed on procedural grounds, they would be dismissed on the merits. In an appeal to the Commissioner, a petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and the burden of establishing the facts upon which petitioner seeks relief (8 NYCRR §275.10; Appeal of Aversa, 48 Ed Dept Rep 523, Decision No. 15,936; Appeal of Hansen, 48 id. 354, Decision No. 15,884; Appeal of P.M., 48 id. 348, Decision No. 15,882). On this record, petitioners have failed to carry their burden of establishing that the district acted arbitrarily or capriciously in its practice of administering the state assessments.

In support of their claim that respondent’s alleged “sit and stare” policy is arbitrary and capricious, petitioners assert that the Department “allows schools to design policies that let children read a book, or even provide alternative educational activities, if the parent refuses to allow the child to participate in NYS testing.”

I note that, as part of the program requirements for grades three through eight, Commissioner’s regulations specifically require that school districts annually administer the English Language Arts (“ELA”) and math assessments in those grades and science assessments in grades four and eight (8 NYCRR §§100.3[b][2][i][a] and [b]; 100.4[b][2][ii]; 100.4[e][1], [2] and [4]). These regulatory requirements conform with the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”), which requires, inter alia, that the Department, as a state educational agency, implement a system of annual assessments in ELA and math for all students in grades three through eight and in science at least once in grades three through five and grades six through nine (see 20 USC §6311[b][3]).

As respondent correctly notes, there exists no authority for parents to opt their children out of participation in required state assessments[2] and school districts are therefore not required to provide a child who has refused the assessment with an alternate location or to allow such child to read other materials while other children are taking their assessments. Indeed, the 2014 New York State Testing Program Teacher’s Directions (“Teacher’s Directions”)[3] state under “Test Format and Schedule” as follows:

Students who finish their test before the allocated time expires should be encouraged to go back and check their work. Once the student checks his or her work, or chooses not to, test materials may be collected by the proctor. After a student’s test materials are collected, that student may be permitted to read silently. This privilege is granted at the discretion of each school. No talking and no other schoolwork is permitted. If all students complete the test earlier than the allotted time, you may end the session (emphasis in original).

Thus, according to the Department’s guidelines, school districts have discretion, but are not required, to permit students to read silently if they finish their test before the allotted test administration expires. Nonetheless, according to respondent, the district’s practice is to allow students who complete their test before the allocated time expires – or who refuse to take a state assessment and the minimum time to take the test expires – to read silently.

As noted above, respondent maintains it does not implement a “sit and stare policy” and that its actions are not arbitrary or capricious and are in all respects consistent with applicable law, regulation and guidance.

Moreover, as respondent notes, the Department’s 2014 School Administrator’s Manual for the grades three through eight ELA and math tests, of which I take judicial notice, specifically states that “[s]chools do not have any obligation to provide an alternative location or activities for individual students while the tests are being administered.”

Accordingly, on this record, I cannot conclude that petitioners have carried their burden of establishing that respondent’s test administration policies are arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion.

I have reviewed petitioners’ remaining contentions and find them to be without merit.

THE APPEALS ARE DISMISSED.

END OF FILE

Celia Oyler: What Merryl Tisch Doesn’t Know about Teacher Evaluation

Diane Ravitch's blog

Celia Oyler is a teacher educator at Teachers College, Columbia University.

In this post, she explains that the Chancellor of the Néw York Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, does not understand how the teacher evaluation plan she snd 10 other Regents just approved works.

Tisch thinks she solved the problem of VAM mistakes by permitting teachers like Sheri Lederman to appeal ratings that are clearly wrong.

Oyler says that Sheri Lederman’s rating, egregiously wrong, was not an “aberration.” The whole system is flawed.

“What is extremely important for all New York State educators and families to understand is that the Chancellor of the Board of Regents does not understand a very basic aspect of a policy she has foisted upon us.”

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Close Reading of NYS Audit Reveals Risks Tied to APPR

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A recent report issued by the New York State Comptroller’s Office on student scores, raises concerns about tying teacher and principal evaluation and student growth measures to tests.

The audit found students grades were changed from failing to passing in five school districts — Arlington, Elmira, Fairport, Freeport and Saratoga Springs Districts. According to the report, auditors found there was no written explanation for the grade changes and lax policies. IT SHOULD BE NOTED: Although policy deficits and lax controls were found at each of the school districts featured in the report, none of the schools were accused of intentional wrongdoing or cheating.

According to DiNapoli: “When proper controls are not in place, there is the possibility of student grades being inappropriately altered.”  He further opined that “When grades are changed, there needs to be a record justifying the changes. These lax policies could easily be manipulated and graduation rates…

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New York State Parent Opt Outs Will Make History in 2016

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How are we going to make history when you are not here with me? Let’s make history right now, together.

~INC

At a time when harmful testing practices, inequitable school funding, and profit-driven reforms that seek to dismantle public education and silence the voices of parents, students, educators, and communities,  parents are opting out in droves in order to protect public school children from state sanctioned harm.

Faulty education reforms and common core tests tied to teacher and principal evalution have reached critical mass.  Although opt-outs have made news in several states: Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, to name a few, no state can compare to New York State, where the opt out movement has been on fire thanks to the hard work and dedication of parents throughout the state.

It t was during the 2015 State of the State address that Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced that teacher…

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New York Parents: Regents’ Decision Will Increase Opt Outs

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Hudson Valley Alliance for Public Education issued a statement pledging to increase the number if opt outs next spring, in response to the Board of Regents’ decision to endorse a punitive, test-based teacher evaluation system. In the new system, test scores will count for 50% of a teacher’s evaluation, despite the American Statistical Association’s warning that a teacher accounts for 1-14% of variation in test scores.

Supporters of VAM think that the teachers’ union is pulling the strings and persuading parents to express such views. They think parents are dupes and fools. They are wrong.

Parents understand that when test scores matter so much, teachers will spend more time on test prep and less time on untested subjects. This is educationally unsound, and it hurts their children.

The parents support opt out to protect their children.

Here is the statement of the Hudson Valley Alliance:

“Parents across the Hudson…

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