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Education

Learning Summit to discuss teacher evaluations

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WBFO News file photo
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The New York State Board of Regents will be hosting an invite-only 'Learning Summit' Thursday in Albany.  WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley talked with Western New York's Regents representative about addressing teacher evaluations.   

"Here we have this major curriculum, that we're trying to make sure the kids know that curriculum, and now we're coming back and we're trying to evaluate teachers based on that curriculum,' said Catherine Collins, Regents Board member for Western New York.

Collins referring to the tough Common Core Standards teachers and students are trying to accomplish in the classroom.  Collins tells WBFO News Thursday's Learning Summit will examine the Annual Professional Performance Review -- known as APPR.  Education stakeholders and experts were invited to provide testimony.       

"And if we have 80,000 people in Erie County who do not have high school diplomas, I'm sure some of those are our parents, that we expect them to be able to deal with the Core Curriculum and they themselves don't have high school diplomas," said Catherine Collins, Regents Board Member.

Collins points to Common Core as a major trouble spot when it comes to evaluating teachers.

"I've had lawyers and teachers tell me that they can't even help their own kids with the Common Core, "said Collins.  First of all we shouldn't of rolled out the Common Core all at one time. We should have gradually moved it out and have training seminars for the parents."

Regents Collins said she is very concerned about local students, noting that thousands of parents are unable to assist their children with school work, and that effects teachers in the classroom.

"And if we have 80,000 people in Erie County who do not have high school diplomas, I'm sure some of those are our parents, that we expect them to be able to deal with the Core Curriculum and they themselves don't have high school diplomas," said Collins.

A big concern with the teacher  evaluations plan is the state's November 15th deadline.  Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch says they will work on developing en effective evaluation plan by June 30th. But Tisch has extended the deadline for evaluation approval until September 1st of 2016 for districts facing hardships.   

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Credit WBFO News file photo
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NYS Regents Chancellor Tisch at last year's visit to the Kalfas Magnet School in Niagara Falls.

The Learning Summit will have limited chance for public response on teacher evaluations. The New York State United Teachers will be working to provide as much information to the public as possible. 

NYSUT President Karen Magee said the union will provide posts with minute information via Twitter for parents and teachers.

"Thursday’s summit should be the beginning of a public process that ensures the Regents and State Education Department can listen to parents and educators’ concerns," Magee said. "Teachers and parents support reducing the emphasis on standardized tests and developing an evaluation system that is fair, objective, and helps advance teaching and learning."

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said while the union is also urging the public to comment via email at Eval2015@nysed.gov, SED must do more — and do it more proactively — to address the anger and frustration of parents and educators.  She said, "SED has already experienced the disastrous effects of its rushed and rocky roll out of new modules and tests. It is essential that parents, educators and community members have the opportunity to thoughtfully weigh in after the draft regulations are released at the Regents’ meeting in mid-May." ?

"The deadlines imposed by the governor are clearly unrealistic," Fortino said. "Still, the Regents and SED have a responsibility, after the draft regulations are written, to listen carefully to all the stakeholders and work to avoid another potentially damaging mandate that hurts students, educators and schools."

The  New York State Education Department will provide a webcast the summit scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.