Ithaca, N.Y. — Ithaca area Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton announced Tuesday that she is co-sponsoring a bill in the N.Y. State Assembly that would make several changes to education laws that have recently generated significant controversy.

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Among the biggest proposed reforms backed by Lifton is the delay of the new teacher evaluation system that was included in the recent state budget, according to Capital N.Y.

Another possible impact of the proposed bill is that the state’s education department would be required to review the Common Core learning standards, according to a news release.

Lifton said in a news release on Tuesday the new measures are “critical” and will “help put education policy back where it belongs.”

New York state has faced a mountain of criticism for its roll-out of new Common Core standards, which led to an “Opt-Out” movement through which thousands of students refused to take their tests.

Here are the 8 proposed changes backed by Lifton, according to a news release:

1) provide a public comment period of forty-five days to review the new teacher evaluation system proposed by the (State Education Department).

2) extend the deadline by which schools must have an approved teacher evaluation plan in place to December 15, 2015 from the current date of November 15, 2015.

3) require that the SED release, by June 1 annually, test questions and corresponding correct answers from the most recent ELA and math exams in grades three through eight.

4) provide an $8.4 million allocation to create more exams to aid the release of more test questions to teachers.

5) require SED to ensure that student growth scores take into consideration certain student characteristics, including, but not limited to, students with disabilities, poverty, English language learner status and prior academic history.

6) require the SED to establish a content review committee to review standardized test items and/or selected passages for use on state exams in grades three through eight to ensure the tests are age-appropriate and time-appropriate.            

7) reform the way the Board of Regents are selected.

8) require the SED to review the Common Core learning standards.

More background: According to Capital N.Y., the bill appears to be a response to “last month’s unprecedented boycott of state-administered tests in public schools.”

That was also the case locally. An unprecedented number of students at the Ithaca City School District refused to take Common Core assessment examinations in April.

The participation rate for students grades from 3rd to 8th grade fell to 85 percent, ICSD Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown previously told the Ithaca Voice. Schools are required to be at a participation rate of 95 percent.

Syracuse.com reported that the participation rates appear to have varied greatly, from around 50 percent refusal rates in some parts of Buffalo to 11 percent in some parts of Albany.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.