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Report of Regents P-12 Education/Higher Education Joint Meeting Committee to The Board of Regents

Your P-12 Education Committee and Higher Education Committee held its scheduled meeting on February 10, 2014.  All members were present.

Adjustment Options to Common Core Implementation

In December 2013, a Work Group of the Board of Regents P-12 Committee was charged with reviewing the feedback the Board of Regents and the State Education Department have received from various constituencies, including educators, parents, community leaders, among others. Regent Norwood and Commissioner John King presented to the Board the report of the Work Group, which includes nineteen options to continue to improve the implementation of the Common Core State Standards at the State and district level.  The nineteen options are as follows:

1. Periodically Review and Update the Common Core Learning Standards
Advocate for the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to convene states periodically to review and update – as appropriate – the Common Core standards. The review should include each state, including New York, gathering feedback from stakeholders including educators, higher education faculty, business leaders, parents, special education advocates, and bilingual education experts.

2. Provide equitable funding for schools including appropriate funding for professional development
Advocate for the Governor and state legislature to adopt the Regents State Aid Proposal recommendation seeking funding for a Core Instructional Development Fund to support Common Core implementation and parent engagement activities ($125 million in 2014-15, $200 million in 2015-16, and $200 million in 2016-17).

3. Give high school students more time to meet the Common Core standards
Extend the phase-in for Common Core-aligned Regents examinations required for graduation so that the class of 2022 is the first that is required to pass English and mathematics Regents exams at college and career ready levels. In addition, provide flexibility with respect to the Regents Geometry Exam by allowing, similar to the flexibility offered at local discretion for the current school year in Algebra, the higher score to count for students who take the 2005 standards Geometry exam in addition to the Common Core-aligned Geometry exam through the January 2016 administration. Student performance will continue to be reported on a 0-100 scale.

4. Eliminate high stakes for students
Issue guidance indicating that (1) the Department neither requires nor encourages districts to make promotion or placement decisions using student performance on state assessments in grades 3-8; and (2) if districts choose to consider state assessments in grades 3-8 when making promotion or placement decisions, they should make adjustments to ensure students are not negatively impacted by the Common Core transition and should use multiple measures - not grades 3-8 state assessment results alone.

5. Reduce field testing and provide increased access to test questions
Advocate for the Governor and state legislature to adopt the Regents state budget priority request for $8.4 million in new funding to eliminate multiple-choice stand-alone field testing and to allow the Department to print more versions of state tests so that more test questions may be released to teachers and parents.

6. Offer smarter testing options for students with disabilities
Advocate for a federal ESEA waiver from the United States Education Department (USED) to allow students with severe disabilities who are not eligible for the alternate tests to be assessed based on instructional level rather than chronological age.

7. Offer smarter testing options for English language learners
Advocate for a federal ESEA waiver from USED to allow English language learners to be assessed via the language acquisition test (NYSESLAT) rather than the English language arts exam for their first two years.

8. Develop Native Language Arts assessments for Spanish-speaking ELLs
Advocate for the Governor and state legislature to adopt the Board of Regents state budget priority request for $10 million in new funding to develop Native Language Arts assessments to provide districts the option of offering this assessment when it would best measure the progress of Spanish-speaking ELLs.

9. Clarify what new grades 3-8 test scores mean for students
Because student performance on the 2013 grades 3-8 tests was based on more rigorous standards, and therefore proficiency rates cannot be compared to scores from previous years, provide clarification for what Performance Level 2 means when aligned with Common Core Regents exam performance levels. The new Level 2 on the grades 3-8 ELA and math tests aligns to “On Track for Regents Exam Passing for Graduation” on Common Core Regents Exams (until the required passing score is raised to the college and career ready level).

10. Focus extra support on students that need it the most
Extend the Academic Intervention Services “hold harmless” provision applied in 2012-13 to 2013-14 and 2014-15 to better ensure that existing support services for students remain relevant and appropriate as New York implements the Common Core.

11. Reduce unnecessary tests
Conduct expedited review of Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan amendments where the changes reduce or eliminate unnecessary testing.

12. Eliminate traditional standardized tests in grades K-2
Disapprove APPR plans beginning in 2014-15 that include administration of traditional standardized tests in grades K-2 and remove all grade K-2 traditional standardized tests from the list of approved locally-selected student assessments for APPR purposes. (The state does not administer traditional standardized tests in K-2.)

13. Establish a 1 percent cap on time for locally-selected standardized testing
Limit the time students may spend on standardized tests to comply with districts’ locally selected measures as part of APPR. (The federally required State assessments in grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics account for less than 1% of instructional time.)

14. Offer flexibility to districts to further reduce local testing time required by APPR
Allow the use of school-wide measures for APPR purposes for teachers of middle school social studies (grades 6-8) and science (grades 6-7).

15. Prevent unfair negative consequences to teachers and principals 
Provide that if a school district seeks to terminate an educator based on an ineffective rating resulting from student performance on Common Core assessments administered in the 2012-13 and/or 2013-14 school years, he or she may 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 those school years.

16. Provide new curricular resources for teachers of students with disabilities and English language learners
Develop additional companion materials to the modules focused on differentiated instructional practices and supports that may be utilized to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities and English language learners.

17. Create a “Teacher Portal.” 
Develop an online tool to allow educators from around the state to share curricular resources, including adaptations of modules.

18. Ensure IEPs are appropriate to student needs as Common Core is implemented
Issue guidelines for Committees on Special Education to ensure that Individualized Education Program (IEP) recommendations address key challenges related to a student’s disability and his or her ability to master the Common Core Learning Standards and provide resources and tools to guide lesson planning for teachers to ensure that they have considered and addressed the unique learning needs of students with disabilities in their delivery of instruction.

19. Provide new resources to parents of students with disabilities 
Continue collaboration with the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education and Special Education Parent Centers to develop a set of guiding questions for parents to use in IEP meetings and to ask teachers about how their children are being supported to progress in curricula that reflect the Common Core.

Your P-12 and Higher Education Committees recommend that the report to the Board of Regents regarding Adjustments to Common Core Implementation be adopted as submitted and the Department directed to implement all the identified options in the report, effective February 11, 2014.  Regent Betty Rosa and Regent Kathleen Cashin were in opposition.  The motion was carried.  [P-12/HE (A) 3]

The following items were discussed as part of the conversation relating to the Options to Common Core Implementation and were later submitted for a vote of the respective committees identified in each item.  The recommended actions and/or Regents directives are listed after each item.  A vote to approve all of the items was taken at the end of this discussion.  Regent Betty Rosa and Regent Kathleen Cashin were in opposition.  The motion was carried.

Possible Delay of the Need for Proficiency on the Common Core Standards for Credit and Graduation Purposes – P-12 (D) 4 - It is recommended that the Board provide staff with guidance on whether to delay the planned seven-year phase-in of the Common Core to create a 12-year road map that requires student proficiency on the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) for graduation purposes beginning with the class of 2022.

Proposed Amendment of 100.5 (g)(2) of the Regulations of the Commissioner, Relating to the Transition to Common Core-Aligned Regents Examinations in Mathematics (Geometry) – P-12 (D) 3 - It is anticipated that the proposed amendment will be presented for adoption at the April 2014 Regents meeting, after publication of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the State Register and expiration of the 45-day public comment period prescribed in the State Administrative Procedure Act. If adopted at the April meeting, the proposed amendment will take effect on May 14, 2014.

Academic Intervention Services (AIS) Regulations – P-12 (D) 6 - It is recommended that the Board of Regents direct staff to develop draft regulations that would extend the 2013-2014 amendment to Commissioner's Regulations through the 2014-2015 school year to continue flexibility in the provision of AIS. It is further recommended that the Department issue guidance indicating that (1) the Department neither requires nor encourages districts to make promotion or placement decisions using student performance on state assessments in grades 3-8; and (2) if districts choose to consider state assessments in grades 3-8 when making promotion or placement decisions, they should make adjustments to ensure students are not negatively impacted by the Common Core transition and should use multiple measures - not grades 3-8 state assessment results alone. Guidance must also remind districts that they should establish procedures to ensure that parents/students are involved in and may appeal such determinations.

Performance Level Labels and Performance Level Definitions for Elementary/Middle-Level and Secondary-Level Assessments – P-12 (D) 5 - It is recommended that the Board direct Department staff to communicate this alignment between the Grades 3-8 ELA and math assessment and the Common Core Regents Exam performance level labels and definitions as we move forward with our elementary/middle-level and secondary-level assessment programs and to develop proposed amendments to Commissioner’s regulations to adjust the performance levels for Common Core Regents Exams for the Board’s consideration.

Proposed Amendments to Subpart 30-2 of the Rules of the Board of Regents Relating to a Prohibition Against Traditional Standardized Testing for Students in Grades K-2, Removal of K-2 Tests From the List of Approved Student Assessments, Change in the Definition of Core Subjects for the State Growth or Other Comparable Measures Subcomponent and a Limitation on Instructional Time Spent on Taking Local Assessments for Purposes of Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR) 
P-12/HE (A) 1 – Your Committee recommends that Subpart 30-2 of the Rules of the Board of Regents be amended, as submitted, effective February 11, 2014 as an emergency action upon a finding by the Board of Regents that such action is necessary for the preservation of the general welfare to ensure that school districts and BOCES are aware of the prohibition against the use of certain traditional standardized assessments on students in grades K through 2 purposes of annual professional performance reviews and the removal of the locally determined option to choose an assessment for these grades from the State approved list of third-party assessments. Districts and BOCES also need to be aware of the option to file for an expedited material change if they wish to amend their APPR plan to eliminate unnecessary assessments on students. In addition, for districts and BOCES that will be submitting material changes to their plans for the 2014-2015 school year, they need to be notified that they will be required to submit a signed certification from the superintendent, district superintendent or chancellor that no more than one percent of instructional time will be spent taking third party assessments or district, BOCES or regional assessments.

Proposed amendment of §82-1.10 of the Commissioner’s Regulations relating to hearings pursuant to Education Law §3020(a) – P-12/HE (A) 2 – Your Committee recommends that subdivision (j) of section 82-1.10 of the Regulations of the Commissioner be added as submitted, effective February 11, 2014, as an emergency action upon a finding by the Board of Regents that such action is necessary for the preservation of the general welfare in order to ensure that teachers, principals, school districts and BOCES are given sufficient notice of the regulation, which would impact Education Law §3020-a proceedings involving ineffective APPR ratings received during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years.

Following the discussion, Regent Kathleen Cashin made a motion to impose a moratorium on all testing for two years.  She further clarified by stating that the ramifications of the Common Core Standards should not be used for purposes of APPR and student grade placement.  Regent Harry Phillips, Regent Kathleen Cashin and Regent Betty Rosa voted in favor of the motion, a number insufficient to carry the motion.  The remainder of the respective Committee members opposed or abstained.  The motion failed.

Submission of ESEA Waiver Renewal Request and Related Amendments

Your Committee recommends that the Board of Regents directs the Commissioner of Education and the State Education Department to submit an ESEA Waiver Renewal request and associated waiver amendments (listed below) to the United States Department of Education based upon the materials provided to the Board of Regents.  With the approval of the Regents, staff will incorporate the materials provided to the Board of Regents into the appropriate ESEA Waiver Renewal format and submit the renewal request to the United States Department of Education no later than February 28, 2014.  Members of the committees discussed the various amendments and whether our Waiver request could go further than what was proposed. Given the constraints explained, the Committees voted to approve submission of the waiver by February 28, 2014.   Regent Roger Tilles and Regent Betty Rosa voted in opposition and Regent Christine Cea abstained from the vote.  The motion was carried.  [P-12 (A) 5]

Amendment 1 - The Department has refined its proposal to more clearly identify eligibility criteria for the subgroup of students for which this waiver can apply; limited how the scores of students on instructional level assessments can be used for accountability purposes; and has committed to public reporting of both State and district disaggregated data on the use of this assessment for students with disabilities. Additional guidance and professional development for districts, Committees on Special Education and parents will be provided upon approval of the waiver. In particular, the Department has specified five criteria that students must meet in order to be eligible for participation in instructional level testing as well as identified factors such as a student’s disability category that may not be used as a basis for determining a student’s eligibility; reduced from .93 to .7 percent in English language arts and from 2.34 to 1.5 percent in mathematics the percentage of students whose instructional level scores may be used for accountability purposes; and limited to “partial credit” the adjustment to the Performance Index that would result from a student scoring at or above Level 2 on an instructional level assessment.

Amendment 2 - The amendment has been revised to provide greater detail regarding how NYSED will more explicitly align the six tenets of the DTSDE and the list of allowable activities. The amendment now explains how NYSED will use the “HEDI” scores assigned to districts and Focus/Priority schools for each DTSDE tenet to prioritize how improvement reserve funds are budgeted. (Improvement reserve funds are an amount equal to five to 15 percent of a Focus District’s Title I; Title II; and if the district is identified for the performance of ELL’s, Title III funds, that the district must “set aside” and use to support district and school improvement efforts, chosen from a list of allowable activities specified by the Commissioner.) Districts will be required to use a pre-determined portion of their improvement reserve for prioritized and allowable activities that have been mapped to each of the six tenets. Within each tenet, districts will be required to spend a minimum amount of the improvement reserve on one or more of the prioritized activities. The remaining portion of the tenet-specific reserve may be spent on these prioritized activities or on any of the allowable activities that apply directly to the tenet. If a district receives a HEDI rating of “Highly Effective” or “Effective” and 50% or more of reviewed Focus/Priority schools within that district receive HEDI ratings of “Highly Effective” or “Effective” for a tenet, the district will not be subject to the minimum set-aside for that Tenet. The district will have the flexibility to reallocate those funds to any allowable improvement activity in any tenet. Additionally, if neither a district nor its schools receive a DTSDE review for a particular tenet, the district will have the flexibility to apply the minimum reserve to the non-reviewed tenet or reallocate the minimum reserve to any prioritized or allowable improvement activity in any tenet that was reviewed and rated as “Ineffective” or “Developing.” Districts that can provide a compelling justification may appeal to spend less than the required reserve within a tenet or to spend funds on activities other than those on the allowable list.

Amendment 3 - the Department did not receive any negative feedback regarding this amendment and therefore has made no changes to the amendment.

Amendment 4 - the Department has clarified the methodology for how the AMOs for grade 3-8 ELA and math will be set and provided tables with performance indices for the “all students” group and for each subgroup (Attachment F). The methodology establishes AMOs for the “all students” group and for each subgroup that increment annually between 2012-13 and 2016-17, such that by 2016-2017, the AMO for a group is equal to the base year performance of the group plus half of the difference between the base year performance and a Performance Index of 147 in both ELA and mathematics, which represents the 90 percentile of performance by schools for the “all students” group in 2012-13. For example, the base year performance for the economically disadvantaged group is a Performance Index of 57 in Grade 3-8 ELA. The gap between a Performance Index of 147 and a base year performance of 57 is 90. To close that gap in half by 2016-2017 requires that the AMO for 2016-17 be set at 102 (the base year performance of 57 plus the 50% gap reduction of 45 equals 102).

Amendment 5 – The Department did not receive any negative feedback regarding this amendment, and the only recommendations received were to extend the request for an exemption to three or more years. Therefore, the Department has made no change to this amendment.

Amendment 6 – the Department has revised the amendment to provide additional detail on how the Grade 3-8 ELA Performance Index will be modified for ELLs. Under this proposal, an ELL who has received three or fewer years of service will receive “partial credit” in the Performance Index if the student makes the scale score gain on the NYSESLAT that constitutes acceptable progress for purposes of the Title III Annual Measurable Achievement Objective (AMAO). ELLs who advance one or more levels on the NYSELSAT (e.g., beginner to intermediate) will receive “full credit” in the Performance Index. This adjustment in the Performance Index is no longer limited to just ELLs who are newly arrived in the United States and have received less than two years of service but now applies to all ELLs who have received less than three full years of service.

MOTION FOR ACTION BY FULL BOARD

Madam Chancellor and Colleagues: Your P-12 Education Committee and Higher Education Committee recommend, and we move, that the Board of Regents act affirmatively upon each recommendation in the written report of the Committee's deliberations at its meeting on February 11, 2014, copies of which have been distributed to each Regent. 

Associated Agenda Item

Meeting Date: 
Monday, February 10, 2014 - 9:00am