Questions About NY’s Implementation of Current Education Reforms

The New York specific set of questions below was inspired by Susan Ohanian’s questions for Vermont’s education leaders. In turn, Susan was inspired by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Daniel J. Forest’s open letter to that state’s chief education officer, asking 67 questions about the Common Core State Standards. Read more on the original post here: 28 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COMMON CORE. Please feel free to use the comments area below to submit an answer for any of these questions. I am, however, looking for a response from official NYSED or NYS Legislative representatives.

_________________________
The Standards
1. Please provide the names and qualifications of the New Yorkers “actively involved” in the development of CCSS; include minutes and materials.
2. Please make public all CCSS-related correspondence between the New York State Education Department, the governor, and members of the New York Legislature between January 2009 and July 2010.
3. Did NYSED, the State Board of Regents, and members of the New York legislative education committees examine dissenting views before adopting the CCSS? (Please provide a list of individuals, groups, associations providing reasons for NOT pursuing CCSS.)
4. Can you point to pedagogical research supporting the following CCSS directives (offered as tiny examples of inappropriate mandates)?
• Kindergarten: Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme words.
• Grade 6: Establish and maintain a formal style in writing.
5. Please name the international standards used as CCSS benchmarks.
6. Please provide research showing even a causal relationship between any national standards and economic competitiveness.
7. What was inadequate about New York’s previous standards?  Please provide evidence of New York schools not teaching our students to read, write, speak, listen, and learn math for the past several decades.
8. What is the cost of providing teachers with resources to make the change to CCSS?
9. Is this cost the responsibility of taxpayers in local districts?
10. Has consideration been given to what schools will have to sacrifice in order to meet the standards?
11. Were local school boards consulted before CCSS adoption? Please provide details of these discussions.
12. When New York adopted CCSS, what convincing information superseded the fact that the radical CCSS, written by non-educators, was not research-based, not field-tested, not proven effective?
13. The CCSS can be changed/altered by “15%” to accommodate local needs. What constitutes a percentage point when modifying CCSS?  Who can request such modifications for New York? To whom does New York submit modifications?  What happens if changes above “15%” are made?
14. The Pioneer Institute estimates the cost to implement CCSS nationally at about $16 billion over the next seven years. Six Rockland County (New York) school districts estimate a four-year cost of $10,886,712. What is the cost projection for the entire state of New York? Please also provide a detailed timeline of implementation tied to costs as well.

Assessments
15. How are the potential PARCC assessments aligned to CCSS better than previous assessments (which New York taxpayers paid a lot to develop)? Please make public correspondence and documentation of New York participation in PARCC meetings.
16. What is your best estimate for the time CCSS assessments will take from regular school studies?
17. Who will determine cut scores, the number of right answers students need on a test to be deemed proficient, on the new CCSS exams?
18. What happens to students who do not meet these cut scores?
19. Why did New York decide not to extensively field test CCSS assessments prior to the complete roll-out?
20. So far this year, Indiana, Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia have withdrawn from assessments (PARCC) associated with CCSS. Pennsylvania put its participation on hold and PARCC is in deep trouble in Florida and Ohio. Has New York looked into the option of withdrawing from PARCC completely? Why or why not?
21. To accommodate just the technological requirements for CCSS assessments, Florida budgeted an additional $450 million and California an extra $1 billion. What has New York budgeted for technological improvements to ensure our schools meet the basic requirements for CCSS assessment?
22. Does every New York school have bandwidth capacity for the CCSS assessments? Please provide a list.
23. Will the implementation of new technology requirements to accommodate CCSS assessments require local schools to hire additional IT staff?

Origin of the Common Core
24. Do you think that the fact that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spent several hundred million dollars to create and promote the CCSS, shutting teachers out of the process, puts the democratic process in jeopardy?
25. In his State of the Union address President Obama referenced CCSS: “We’ve convinced nearly every state in the country …” What form did federal “persuasion” take in New York’s decision?
26. What is the federal role in how we evaluate our teachers? Are federal money or grants involved?

Data Collection/Storage/Sharing
27. inBloom Inc. states that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored, or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.” Please detail any communication between representatives from inBloom and the New York State Education Department regarding this statement.
28. Please list what specific data points will be collected on New York public school students and shared with “contractors, consultants and volunteers.”
29. Please provide the names of contractors, consultants and volunteers who conducted research over the last two years using New York State student and/or teacher data.
30. Can New York parents and students “opt out” of the collection and storage of personal information in education databases associated with either CCSS or Race to the Top (RttT) implementation? If so, what is the process? If not, why not?
31. Please cite the specific wording and definitions in both federal and state law that requires data collection. Please also cite the specific pieces of data these laws are requiring districts to collect and send to the state.
32. What happens if a student transfers from one district to another within the state? What data is sent electronically to the new district without parent consent? What about medical records associated with special needs students? What happens if the student transfers out of state, to a non-inBloom state?
33. Students are now encouraged to upload all high school courses and grades when completing the SUNY Online Academic Record (SOAR). What happens to that data when students decide to no longer move through the application process or enroll in a SUNY school of higher education?
34. Why does all the state data collected about students need to be personally identifiable to each individual student? Please provide evidence and educational rationales that support that decision.
35. Please explain how the new inBloom database/system fits into New York’s larger plans for a statewide P-20 Longitudinal Database System. What is the educational value of the statewide longitudinal databases? Where has one been setup, tested, and used for an extended length of time (a decade or more) and found to be a valuable tool in making statewide decisions?

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2 Comments

  1. Marianne

     /  December 6, 2013

    Did you send these questions in? Freedom of Information?

    Reply
    • Hi Marianne, for now they have been emailed to many NYSED officials, the Board of Regents members and politicians. I know some of this stuff (answers) is buried deep in large PDFs … also buried on the NYSED web site. Of course, not all has been released. Not ready for FOIL yet.

      Reply

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