September 2011

 State changes testing schedule one more time

state edSED has changed the 2011-12 testing schedule for grades 3-8 yet again, moving the start date after NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira and other educators vigorously objected that the revised schedule, prepared without consulting the field and released a week before the start of the school year, would conflict with school calendars in many parts of the state. In response, SED shifted the ELA start day to Tuesday, April 17, to avoid administering the test on what for many would be the first Monday back from spring break. That still leaves students disadvantaged, a point local leaders can make to parents as we work in common cause to advance student achievement.

In a strongly-worded letter to Commissioner King, Neira points out that the revised schedule continues to conflict with school calendars in several areas of the state and lacks the flexibility needed to properly administer the test - problems which could have been avoided had SED followed the collegial practice of consulting with the field. The testing schedule shows that SED lacks a real understanding of how to support student success.

Eliminating local flexibility and requiring mandated uniform testing dates, the grades 3-8 assessments are currently slated for April 17-18 for ELA and April 23-24 for math. When the change was posted on NYSUT's Facebook page, many members weighed in on the challenges this presents for their students. Leaders should note that scoring of the math tests now begins April 26, the opening day for NYSUT's RA at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center.

The new testing schedule and new information about which January Regents will be administered are on the SED website and also attached here as a PDF. NYSUT's grade 3-8 brochure for parents will need to be updated and we apologize for the delay.

 Holding SED accountable for student data contract

In another move to support best practice in accountability, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has spiked a no-bid deal that would have given tabloid publisher Rupert Murdoch's company the lucrative state contract for crunching student test data, after NYSUT/UFT pressed our concerns about potential security and conflict-of-interest problems. DiNapoli decided to veto the contract to Murdoch's subsidiary, after NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi and others pointed out that the publishing billionaire is embroiled in charges of privacy violations and phone hacking in England. NYSUT first raised concerns with a press release in early June after the Daily News reported the contract was being awarded outside the normal bidding process and just weeks after News Corp. brought former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein on board.

This development comes just days after NYSUT's major court victory challenging SED regulations for teacher performance reviews that would contradict state law.