Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New York's Moratorium on Standardized Tests: Implications for Buffalo's OCR Complaint

Communication to Buffalo Superintendent Kriner Cash:

Dear Dr. Cash:

As you know the District received the Report by the Civil Rights Project and its lead consultant, Dr. Gary Orfield, in response to the Resolution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, New York Office for Civil Rights (OCR Case No. 02-14-1077) in May 2015.  Since that time, the District has grappled with developing an approvable plan to address the findings and recommendations of the Report.  I understand we are close, however I must raise a question regarding the recent vote by the New York State Regents regarding Common Core aligned standardized tests.  Consistent with the recommendations of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force, released on December 10th, the New York State Regents voted, on December 14th, to accept among others Recommendation 21 that proposes:  Until the new system is fully phased in, the results from assessments aligned to the current Common Core Standards, as well as the updated standards, shall only be advisory and not be used to evaluate the performance of individual teachers or students.  More broadly stated the decision is to place a moratorium on the use of the results of these tests until 2019-2020 pending their revision.  That includes the tests given during the 2012-13. 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

As you also know, one of the recommendations of Dr. Orfield regarding the criteria used to determine student admission to the criterion schools was “eliminating the New York state tests because the standards have been changed so drastically and their use is too new to support valid predictions…” (The Report: p 81)

I believe that the current reversal by the Regents regarding these tests warrants a revisit by the District of this recommendation and by way of this communication I am requesting that the District undertake this review.  Thank you.  I look forward to your response.

Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, PhD

Member at Large

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