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Chancellor Meryll Tisch (left) alongside Regent Roger Tilles at a Common Core forum in Eastport in November 2013. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

Chancellor Meryll Tisch (left) alongside Regent Roger Tilles at a Common Core forum in Eastport in November 2013. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

Ordinarily, letters exchanged between governors and high-level bureaucrats don’t make it to the top of The New York Times bestseller list. But, sometimes, one comes across a letter that makes one sit up and say, “Whoa, what’s going on here?” I refer to a recent letter about education reform sent by Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch to Gov. Cuomo’s office. (It was also signed by the new “acting” commissioner of education, Elizabeth Berlin.)

What’s striking in Ms. Tisch’s recommendations to the governor is the unstated proposition that there is a big difference between public education and state education, and that state education is far superior. From the chancellor’s point of view, public education hasn’t just failed poor, black and Hispanic children the most, but has somehow even failed kids in Great Neck, Jericho, Scarsdale and Garden City — even though many of them go on to the best universities in the nation.

The remedy? State education. (more…)

08/07/13 2:57pm
08/07/2013 2:57 PM


State officials released Wednesday the results of math and English Language Arts assessments that students took in April, with the numbers showing Riverhead students lagging behind their peers statewide.

Of Riverhead School District students in grades 3 through 8, 74.7 percent failed to meet the state’s math proficiency standard and 73.8 percent failed to meet the state’s ELA proficiency standard for the 2012-13 year.

Statistics for all New York schools in which students sat for the assessments showed 69 percent of students failed math and 68.9 percent failed the ELA exam. School districts in Suffolk County generally fared better than the state overall, with 66.8 percent failing math and 63.7 percent failing ELA.

(Scroll down to view a list of state assessment results for each school.)

For the first time this past school year, math and ELA assessments included elements of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The common core standards are a new set of national benchmarks designed to help public school students master language arts and mathematics.

The initiative requires instructors to teach more non-fiction and rigorous math to students at a younger age.

The first group of students required to pass Common Core-aligned Regents exams for high school graduation will be the class of 2017, state officials said.

While the state Department of Education has claimed implementation of common core aims to better prepare students for college and careers for the 21st century, many parents and educators have criticized the move because they believe teachers are being forced to abandon true learning for “teaching to the test.”

The results of the new assessments are expected to be tied to the state-mandated annual professional performance review plans, known as APPR. The teacher evaluation requirement originated in 2010 after New York was awarded a grant of nearly $700 million under the federal Race to the Top program. For individual school districts to qualify for part of the grant, the state required them each to implement their own APPR program this year.

It had been expected that proficiency levels would be significantly lower compared to the 2011-12 school year and the scores “will not negatively impact district, school, principal, or teacher accountability,” State Department of Education Commissioner John King said in a statement.

“These proficiency scores do not reflect a drop in performance, but rather a raising of standards to reflect college and career readiness in the 21st century,” Mr. King said. “I understand these scores are sobering for parents, teachers, and principals. It’s frustrating to see our children struggle. But we can’t allow ourselves to be paralyzed by frustration.

“We must be energized by this opportunity. The results we’ve announced today are not a critique of past efforts. They’re a new starting point on a roadmap to future success.”

Scroll down to view Riverhead’s results. Click here for statewide results.

April 2013 state assessment results complied by the Riverhead News-Review