Education Week - January 6, 2016 - (Page 24)
Curtain to Rise
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23
scores are not accurate ref lections of a
A task force in New York recently recommended that the state place a four-year moratorium on factoring tests into teachers' evaluations. The state board of regents followed
suit, and The New York Times has reported
that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who once advocated
that scores be incorporated into evaluations,
could call on the legislature to permanently
decouple evaluations from state tests.
And South Carolina's state superintendent,
Molly Spearman, proposed late last month
that teachers be judged on incremental tests
taken throughout the year rather than one
end-of-year test, the Associated Press reported-a response, Spearman said, to the
passage of ESSA.
Legislators in California, Indiana, Oklahoma,
and Wisconsin are studying ways to pacify anxious teachers who are leaving the classrooms in
droves, causing staffing shortages.
"The researchers say there's no silver bullet
in fixing teacher shortages," the NCSL's Exstrom said. "One area that kept coming back
over and over is that teacher working conditions have to be steadied. We have to understand what makes teachers leave."
Testing, Standards Showdowns
Lawmakers in states such as Colorado and
New York will be looking to quell opt-out
movements led by parents who are demanding fewer high-stakes tests.
At least 16 state task forces that convened
in 2015 recommended that legislatures make
dramatic changes to the tests they give and
how often they give them.
Massachusetts' board of education decided
in November to mix its state assessments
with questions from PARCC and local standards, a move Peisch said the legislature will
review this session.
"We have not completely abandoned common core," she said.
Indiana replaced PARCC last school year
with its homemade ISTEP exams, but several district superintendents called the scores
"botched." After an Indianapolis Star investigation revealed a possible testing glitch,
House Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican,
said he will push to scrap the test this year.
While states will still be forced to track how
well minority and disabled students perform
on tests, states can now determine how much
to factor those scores into school, district, and
teacher assessments. That has civil rights organizations on edge.
"I'm excited about states having more autonomy, but we need to make sure we don't
move backward," said Joyce Elliott, a former
NCSL education chairwoman and an Arkansas representative who is leading a task force
to study new indicators to measure.
At least 19 states are in the process of reviewing their state standards after parent
advocates complained that their common-core
standards were not locally designed. Oklahoma
is in the process of a full rewrite. And in West
Virginia, legislators said they would review recently passed standards to make sure they are
different from common-core standards.
Education takes up a lot of states' budgets,
and with 30 of the 50 statehouses controlled
by Republicans, many of them looking to cut
taxes in 2016, school funding will likely dominate the discussion in many capitols.
In Pennsylvania, GOP legislators and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf were still struggling
to hammer out a long-overdue budget for the
current fiscal year-a standoff that's lasted
since July and has districts taking hundreds
of millions of dollars out in emergency loans
and, in some cases, laying off staff.
Several oil-dependent states, such as
Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
and Texas, last year dipped into reserve funds
to avoid cuts to their education departments.
But many of those funding pools are now
empty, and with tax revenues off because
the oil industry is still hurting, legislators in
Louisiana and Oklahoma will have to decide
whether to make cuts or raise taxes.
A recently released study by the Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities, a center-left
think tank, says at least half the states still
provide less education funding than they did
in 2008, before the recession took hold.
And a handful of states will look to make
major changes to their school funding formulas.
On the legal front, Washington and Kansas
are still attempting to answer their state supreme courts' demands to craft a new funding
formula after districts there successfully sued.
Washington is being fined $100,000 a day by
its state supreme court until it can come up
with a new formula.
In Delaware, Montana, and Nebraska, task
forces recently recommended drastic changes
to their funding formulas to more equitably
distribute state funding.
The fiscal picture is not all gloomy, however.
One standout example: Virginia Gov. Terry
McAuliffe, a Democrat, proposed in December
adding $1 billion to the state's $17 billion K-12
and higher education budget, in part to hire at
least 2,500 new school teachers.
"Overall ... it's going to be a good year, not a
great year," said Michael Griffith, who tracks
school finance at the Education Commission
of the States. "For the rest of the states, you're
going to see increases in spending in education.
The question is how much is it going to be?"
N.Y. Panel Scraps Use of Student Scores
In Teachers' Evaluations-for Now
TEACHER BEAT | A committee of New York state's board
of regents has approved plans to scuttle the use of test
scores in teachers' performance reviews for four years,
delaying them until at least the 2019-20 school year.
It voted last month in favor of the emergency
regulations just a week after a panel set up by Gov.
Andrew Cuomo to advise the state's implementation of
the Common Core State Standards favored the delay.
Under the regulations, teachers will still receive a
growth score based on tests, but it won't count toward
consequences, such as whether they'll be granted tenure
or brought up for dismissal. Instead, they will receive a
"transition" score based mainly on teacher observations.
The shift comes less than a year after Cuomo successfully
pushed in budget legislation to increase to 50 percent the
weight given to test scores in teacher evaluations and appears
to have been prompted at least partially by the opt-out
movement. One in 5 students sat out state standardized tests
during the past year.
Some Mass. Title I Aid at 'High Risk'
Over Lack of Single Statewide Test
POLITICS K-12 | The U.S. Department of Education
has placed some of Massachusetts' Title I funds on
"high risk" status over its decision not to administer
a single statewide exam this school year.
In its Dec. 21 letter to state schools Commissioner
Mitchell Chester, the department said the state must show
that it administered the same test statewide in English/
language arts and math to students in grades 3-8 by May
31, 2016, or potentially lose a portion of its Title I funds.
For the 2014-15 school year, the state allowed
24 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 6, 2016 | www.edweek.org
STATES TO WATCH
With their legislative sessions
about to launch, state lawmakers
nationwide are taking aim at a range
of education-related issues. Among
the hotspots of expected activity and
the forces behind it:
(Wyoming, Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana,
North Dakota, West Virginia)
Several states that have tied their education
funding to coal and oil revenue have in recent
years dipped into their slush funds to avoid
education cuts as oil prices have plunged and
the coal industry has largely collapsed. But
now those coffers are emptying and state
officials will have to decide whether to raise
taxes or send down cuts to school districts.
While most states regularly make periodic
adjustments to their funding formulas that
determine how they distribute state education
dollars among districts, some are scrapping
their school funding formula wholesale or
making significant changes.
Washington: The state's supreme court is fining
it $100,000 a day until the legislature can
figure out a more equitable way to fund the
Kansas: Legislators last session ditched the
state's funding formula in response to a lawsuit
and replaced it with temporary block grants
until it comes up with a new formula. The
governor has said he wants the legislature to
put those grants into a permanent formula
but stopped short of saying block grants are a
Delaware: A special commission is expected to
deliver to the state's board of education a report
that will recommend fundamental changes to
the state's funding formula, which has gone
largely unchanged since the early 1940s. The
state faces a $100 million deficit this year.
districts to decide whether to administer the
Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System,
known as MCAS, or the Partnership for Assessment
of Readiness for College and Careers exams. The state
board had been slated to pick one of those tests that
Massachusetts would use statewide going forward.
Instead, last month, the state board declined to require a
single statewide exam for all districts for the 2015-16 academic
year and committed to developing a hybrid test that will
draw on both MCAS and PARCC for the 2016-17 school year.
Massachusetts had 10 business days, starting from Dec. 21, to
appeal the high-risk status.
Nebraska: A legislative committee
recommended in December several changes to
the state's funding formula after farmers and
ranchers complained about soaring property
taxes. Several legislators have already proposed
W.Va. Board Rejects Controversial Plan
Involving Fayette School Facilities
(Oklahoma, Indiana, Wisconsin, and California)
Several states are struggling to recruit and
retain teachers, resulting in thousands of
students stuck with long-term substitute
teachers. Lawmakers in some places have
discussed easing demands on their teachers by
tweaking certification requirements or making
wholesale changes to teacher evaluations.
| STATE EDWATCH | A West Virginia funding
agency has shot down a controversial proposal by
state schools Superintendent Michael Martirano
to close several dilapidated schools in Fayette
County and build a new $56 million high school.
The state has run the rural county's school system for the
past five years and came up with the plan after residents
couldn't agree on how to consolidate when thousands of
students left the district amid the collapse of the coalmining industry. The agency, known as the School Building
Authority, was asked to fund $39 million of the construction
costs over three years. (See Education Week, Dec. 9, 2015.)
But the agency's board members said last month that the
price tag was more than triple the average cost of new school
construction projects and exceeded the agency's available
funds. Board members also said they were bombarded by
phone calls and letters from community members who didn't
support the plan. Only two of 11 board members supported it.
The county hasn't passed a school bond since 1973, and its
facilities, more than a half-century old, are at risk of caving in,
according to engineering reports.
-DAAREL BURNETTE II
Montana: A legislative commission is reviewing
ways to address several funding issues brought
to the state in a 2005 lawsuit and could make
recommendations as soon as 2017.
At least 16 states' legislatures created
assessment task forces in 2015 to make
recommendations on what tests should be used
to measure how well their students grasped
learning standards. Legislators in Connecticut,
Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana,
Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New
Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio,
Rhode Island, and Tennessee are expected to
debate those recommendations in 2016.
SOURCES: Education Commission of the States;
National Conference of State Legislatures
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 6, 2016
Education Week - January 6, 2016
News in Brief
Wash. Ruling Could Inspire Charter Opponents Elsewhere
As New SAT Looms, Anxious Students Ramp Up Testing
Digital Directions: U.S. Ed-Tech Plan Calls Attention to ‘Digital-Use Divide’
Standards for Principals’ Bosses Sharpen Focus on Role
Blogs of the Week
High Stakes in Union-Fee Case Before Supreme Court
New K-12 Law Adds to Buzz as State Legislatures Set to Convene
Ed. Dept. Budget Sees Slight Boost In FY 2016 Deal
Blogs of the Week
Amanda VanDerHeyden, Matthew Burns, Rachel Brown, Mark R. Shinn, Stevan Kukic, Kim Gibbons, Ggeorge Batsche, & W. David Tilly: RTI Works (When It Is Implemented Correctly)
Ron Wolk: To Change Education, Change the Message
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Paul Herdman: As Feds Step Back, The First State Steps Up
Education Week - January 6, 2016