Public Hearing - October 16, 2013

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       1      BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE
              STANDING COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
       2      ------------------------------------------------------

       3                         PUBLIC HEARING

       4       THE REGENTS REFORM AGENDA: "ASSESSING" OUR PROGRESS

       5      ------------------------------------------------------

       6

       7                       Buffalo City Hall
                               Common Council Chambers, 13th Floor
       8                       65 Niagara Square
                               Buffalo, NY 14202
       9
                               October 16, 2013
      10                       10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

      11

      12

      13      PRESIDING:

      14         Senator John J. Flanagan
                 Chair
      15

      16      SENATE MEMBERS PRESENT:

      17         Senator Patrick J. Gallivan

      18         Senator Mark J. Grisanti

      19         Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer

      20

      21

      22

      23

      24

      25







                                                                  2
       1
              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
       2
              Regent Robert M. Bennett                   9       22
       3      Chancellor Emeritus - Erie County
              New York State Board of Regents
       4
              Nicholas Storelli-Castro                   9       22
       5      Director of Governmental Affairs &
                   Special Projects
       6      New York State Department of Education

       7      Dr. Pam Brown                             40       49
              Superintendent
       8      Buffalo Schools

       9      Linda Hoffman                             69       80
              Erie 2, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus,
      10           and BOCES; And also Area Director
                   for New York State School Boards
      11           Association, representing Erie,
                   Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, and
      12           Wyoming counties

      13      Jim Sampson                               69       80
              Board Member
      14      Buffalo Board of Education

      15      Naomi Cerre                               86      104
              Principal
      16      Lafayette High School

      17      Dan Drmacich                              86      104
              Retired Principal
      18      Rochester City School District

      19      Deann Nelson                             115      147
              Parent/Grandparent
      20      (No affiliation denoted)

      21      Carrie Remis                             115      147
              Executive Director
      22      Rochester's Parent Power

      23      Eric Mihelbergel                         115      147
              Parent
      24      (No affiliation denoted)

      25







                                                                  3
       1
              SPEAKERS (Continued):                   PAGE  QUESTIONS
       2
              Todd Hathaway                            150      160
       3      Teacher
              East Aurora High School
       4
              Stephen Allinger                         150      160
       5      Director of Legislation
              New York State United Teachers
       6
              Scott G. Martzloff                       173      184
       7      Superintendent
              Williamsville Central Schools
       8
              Dr. Paul Vermette                        188      199
       9      Professor of Education
              Niagara University
      10           Also, affiliated with
                   Partnership for Smarter Schools
      11
              Preethi Govindaraj                       188      199
      12      Co-Founder
              Minerva
      13           Also, affiliated with
                   Partnership for Smarter Schools
      14
              Mark Beehler                             202      224
      15      Vice President
              Empire State Supervisors and
      16           Administrators Association

      17      James Spanbauer                          202      224
              Principal of LaSalle Preparatory School
      18           (Niagara Falls)
                   Also, Former Chief Education
      19           Administrator of Niagara Falls
                   High School
      20
              Ryan Schoenfeld, Ed.D.                   202      224
      21      Principal
              North Park Junior High School
      22           (Lockport, NY)

      23      Dr. Bruce Fraser                         230      239
              Executive Director
      24      Rural Schools Association

      25







                                                                  4
       1
              SPEAKERS (Continued):                   PAGE  QUESTIONS
       2
              Cheryl Oldham                            239      248
       3      Executive Vice President
              U.S. Chamber of Commerce
       4
              Dr. John McKenna                         249
       5      Elementary Principal in
                   Tonawanda School District
       6      Representative of Niagara Region PTA

       7      Kevin Boatwright                         259      276
              Elementary Principal in the
       8           Buffalo School District

       9      Genelle Morris                           259      276
              Assistant Superintendent of Office of
      10           Shared Accountability, and
              Chief Information Officer for Buffalo
      11
              Kevin Eberle                             259      276
      12      Building Principal
              Representative of NYS Federation of
      13           School Administrators - Buffalo
                   Council of School Supervisors
      14           and Administrators

      15
              David Hursh                              283      305
      16      Professor
              University of Rochester
      17
              Samuel Radford                           283      305
      18      President
              District Parent Coordinating Council
      19

      20

      21                            ---oOo---

      22

      23

      24

      25







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       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  So, good morning.

       2             Nice of all of you to be here.

       3             Again, appreciate your patience, and let's

       4      start today's hearing by standing and saying the

       5      Pledge of Allegiance.

       6             I'll ask Senator Ranzenhofer to lead us in

       7      the pledge.

       8                  (All participating in the hearing

       9        recite, as follows:)

      10             "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the

      11      United States of America and to the Republic for

      12      which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible,

      13      with liberty and justice for all."

      14             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you very much.

      15             So a couple of quick things:

      16             I'm very grateful to be joined by my

      17      colleagues Senator Gallivan and Senator Ranzenhofer,

      18      both of whom have a deep and abiding interest in

      19      education, as I do believe all of you do who have

      20      joined us today.

      21             This is our third in the series of

      22      five hearings.

      23             The first hearing took place on Long Island;

      24             The second hearing in Syracuse recently;

      25             Today, of course, in Buffalo.







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       1             Two weeks from now we'll be in the city of

       2      New York;

       3             And our last hearing will be in Albany,

       4      two weeks thereafter, right after Veteran's Day.

       5             And I hope people generally understand that

       6      the thrust of what we're trying to do is, frankly,

       7      listen, seek input from the educational community,

       8      including administrators; principals; teachers;

       9      parents, most notably; to get a sense of where we

      10      are in terms of educational policy in the state of

      11      New York.

      12             And I would remind everyone that we in the

      13      Legislature play a critical role, but we have a

      14      unique role, and, educational policy, as many of you

      15      know, is set by the Board of Regents and the

      16      State Education Department.

      17             I see Regent Bennett who will be joining us

      18      this morning to testify, and he can certainly offer

      19      comments to that effect.

      20             But, I want everyone to clearly understand

      21      that all the comments that we get are made part of

      22      the written record.

      23             Everything that we've received to date,

      24      including emails from any part of the state, have

      25      been made part of the record already.







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       1             Anything that we have submitted here today is

       2      either up online or will be up online, and for

       3      people who want to submit comments hereafter, you're

       4      certainly entitled to do that.

       5             That will all be made part of the public

       6      record.

       7             In addition to that, I think it's important

       8      to recognize that we are having these hearings

       9      because we want to seek input from people.

      10             The Governor is not doing any hearings,

      11      SED and the Regents are not doing any hearings, the

      12      Assembly is not doing any hearings, so the Senate is

      13      stepping out on this and trying to get a good

      14      cross-section.

      15             We've had comments from people about the

      16      nature of our panelists and people who are

      17      testifying.

      18             There's no end game here.

      19             The idea is to have a very diverse group of

      20      opinions, and I think today is probably a very good

      21      example of the diversity of those opinions.

      22             And our expectation is, that we will work

      23      together as a conference and probably come up with a

      24      set of recommendations after all this is done,

      25      something that might be -- I think it will be useful







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       1      for everyone to take a look at.

       2             But I just want to reiterate that everything

       3      that we have will be forwarded to SED, to the

       4      Regents, to the Governor, and, frankly, it's

       5      available for public review.

       6             And, we have a number of people who have

       7      joined us today.

       8             I'm going to go over a couple of quick

       9      things.

      10             First of all, I want to thank our Senate

      11      technology people because, half the reason that

      12      we -- well, probably more than half the reason, but

      13      the reason we get all this stuff done is because of

      14      the great staff people that we have helping us all

      15      the time.

      16             So if you look out on camera, these folks are

      17      the ones who make you look good.

      18             Beyond that, the policy is, in case anyone

      19      can't read these signs in front, reading of

      20      testimony is not a fruitful endeavor.

      21             If you're going to come up and you're going

      22      to be speaking, summarize what you have to say,

      23      please; and if people are reading, I will politely

      24      and diplomatically stop you from doing that, because

      25      the idea is to have a dialogue.







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       1             Everyone can read the material.

       2             I've had a chance to look at most of the

       3      material that's been submitted before today, so

       4      I would just remind everyone, I have this nifty

       5      little timer here, just in case, and it's not to be

       6      disrespectful to anybody, but we have a lot of

       7      people to testify.

       8             And I'll just add one last comment:

       9             Senator Maziarz who couldn't be with us here

      10      today, he always describes his district as being

      11      75 and sunny every single day, and now I understand

      12      why, because these lights up here make it feel like

      13      it's 75 degrees sitting back here.

      14             But it is -- actually, this is a beautiful

      15      facility, as many of you know.

      16             This is my first time having the opportunity

      17      to sit in this council chamber, and, this building

      18      is absolutely gorgeous.

      19             So, we are fortunate to be in the city of

      20      Buffalo and to be hosted by the common council and

      21      everyone that works here.

      22             So, without any further ado, I would again

      23      thank my colleagues for being here.

      24             And, the first two folks who will be joining

      25      us today are Regent Bennett, and







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       1      Nicholas Storelli-Castro from the State Education

       2      Department.

       3             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  Thank you very

       4      much, Senators, and particularly Chairman Flanagan,

       5      for doing this.

       6             I think these hearings are gonna be very,

       7      very useful and helpful, and we look forward to the

       8      summary that you send on to the State Ed Department

       9      and to the Board of Regents.

      10             And, I want to welcome you to

      11      Western New York.

      12             It's my great privilege to serve on the

      13      Board of Regents, representing 98 school districts,

      14      from Jamestown to Youngstown, 22 colleges and

      15      universities, many cultural organizations, many

      16      agencies serving people with disabilities, and the

      17      49 professions that we license at State Ed.

      18             As kind of an aside, but critical I think to

      19      the reform movement, is my strong belief, starting

      20      back in 1994, in family-support centers to help

      21      families address issues that may affect their child

      22      in school.

      23             I'm a firm believer in expanding, rapidly

      24      I hope, career- and technical-education credit hours

      25      and associate assessments.







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       1             And I have always believed that pre-K should

       2      be available to every child that needs it in the

       3      state, because an early start really creates great

       4      opportunities long term.

       5             Some of the things I'm going to say in

       6      summary you may have heard from other hearings, but

       7      I would like to just comment on a couple of things.

       8             One is that, in '07, the Regents summoned all

       9      of the many parts of USNY, (the University of the

      10      State of New York), and one of the speakers we heard

      11      was Nick Donofrio, who was the executive

      12      vice president of IBM for global strategies.

      13             And his very brief speech basically said that

      14      he wasn't happy with the graduates that we were

      15      sending on to further education or to IBM for

      16      employment.

      17             He said they were -- "We were not able to

      18      hire them, and that IBM didn't really have to stay

      19      in New York State," but they wanted to, they wanted

      20      very badly to; and thankfully they did.

      21             Now they really, I think, have gone a little

      22      further and adopted a high school, but, that was

      23      kind of a wake-up call then.

      24             And at about the same time, the new learning

      25      standards were just beginning to be discussed by a







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       1      wide range of people now known as the "Common Core

       2      Learning Standards."

       3             We also looked a data about remediation

       4      levels of our graduates in community colleges and

       5      four-year colleges, some as high as 50 percent in

       6      English and math, for which they had to pay, and for

       7      which they got no credit, and if they enrolled in

       8      more than one central remedial course, they

       9      generally didn't stay.

      10             We also compared ourselves to NAEP, that

      11      gold-standard of student performance, and we did not

      12      compare well.

      13             And we heard frequently from the business

      14      council and employers that some of our graduates,

      15      not the kids that left school, which is bad enough,

      16      but our graduates were not ready to start meaningful

      17      employment, for a wide range of reasons.

      18             So, I think that it was, when it came time to

      19      vote on the Common Core, it was an easy vote to say,

      20      yes, we should adopt this.

      21             At the same time, we submitted an

      22      application, as you know, to Race to the Top, and

      23      several things occurred from that, and related

      24      developments.

      25             We certainly need to have a data-informed







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       1      instructional system, so the data system has to be

       2      improved.

       3             We believe in principal and teacher

       4      evaluation, obviously.

       5             We believe that it was important to identify

       6      the lowest-performing schools and offer them

       7      incentives for turnaround.

       8             Mixed success there, I would say.

       9             And we believe that the learning standards

      10      could be a new set of rigorous standards, fewer

      11      standards, actually, that would help kids get ready

      12      for college and careers that they chose.

      13             In addition, part of the reform movement is,

      14      in fact, we commissioned a study on whether there

      15      are industry-based assessments that are useful and

      16      relevant in categories of careers; and, lo and

      17      behold, they came back and found 13 such categories,

      18      saying that, not only are their assessments good,

      19      they're as good as Regents exams or maybe better.

      20             So the burden is on the Board of Regents now

      21      to figure out a way to really expand career and

      22      tech ed for all students; not some students, all

      23      students.

      24             We, of course, would like to see -- every

      25      budget year we ask for this -- is an expansion of







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       1      pre-K and better teacher preparation for early

       2      childhood.

       3             Soon we will adopt standards, thanks to the

       4      New York State and national PTA, on family

       5      engagement.

       6             Entirely measurable standards, there are

       7      six categories.

       8             They'll be before us at the November Regents

       9      meetings.

      10             We'll have a public debate on it; send it to

      11      the field and get input yet again.

      12             We have also, in fact, changed

      13      teacher-preparation programs and

      14      leadership-preparation programs.

      15             One of my hopes that, in

      16      leadership-preparation programs, we can have schools

      17      of business help us with communications and

      18      marketing and customer service, which I think is an

      19      important factor in managing a school.

      20             In my many years on the Regents and in

      21      teaching and in higher ed, I absolutely believe one

      22      of the most important persons in the whole reform

      23      movement is, in fact, the principal of a school.

      24             Usually when you have an outstanding

      25      principal, you have outstanding results for those







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       1      kids.

       2             They're fully engaged, really high-quality

       3      teaching, and tremendous results by any measurement

       4      at all.

       5             We have an attachment about the evolution of

       6      the Common Core Learning Standards, and who was

       7      involved.

       8             There was a claim that it wasn't approved

       9      by -- or, wasn't developed by anybody but outsiders.

      10             That's false.

      11             As you see the list, you'll see that that's

      12      true, and, including the time when we voted to adopt

      13      the standards in 2010.

      14             Also attached will be a timeline of all the

      15      training that we did over the last 2 1/2 years,

      16      which continues, in terms of, in Albany, in the

      17      field, and several thousand people came to that

      18      training, and I think that the feedback has been, it

      19      was very, very helpful.

      20             As to assessments, the number of state

      21      assessments has remained the same.

      22             There has been no increase in state

      23      assessments, and I would like that for the record,

      24      because it is, in fact, a fact.

      25             Local assessments, in terms of APPR and the







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       1      Common Core being merged, as it must be, and is in

       2      very great high-performing districts, 60 percent,

       3      20 percent, 20 percent.

       4             You all know the 20 percent is state

       5      assessments.

       6             The other 20 percent is very important

       7      because it's a local decision, and there are many

       8      options there.

       9             It is not a state test.

      10             So, that how you determine where a child is

      11      at the beginning of the year and at the end of the

      12      year seems to be good educational policy anyway, and

      13      so that the locals are free to use last year's

      14      assessments, portfolio assessment, any other

      15      observations that they think will be helpful to

      16      them.

      17             And in the case of kids with special needs,

      18      quite frankly, an IEP is pretty much equivalent to

      19      an SLO (a Student Learning Objective).

      20             It's the same content in the file.

      21             So one of the suggestions made by,

      22      Superintendent Ambrose said, "Why don't you let us

      23      do that, and if we have a really good IEP, we don't

      24      need an SLO."

      25             And I said, "That makes a lot of sense to







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       1      me."

       2             So I'm going to share that with the

       3      Commissioner and Chancellor Tisch.

       4             Also attached, I think very useful, is the

       5      fact that we have a Q&A of all the questions that

       6      have been raised about any aspect of privacy, our

       7      assessments to Common Core, the frequency of

       8      testing;

       9             The fact that contracts that we have for

      10      testing companies must meet the approval of the

      11      State Comptroller and the State Attorney General,

      12      and they have done so;

      13             All this about our own accountability system

      14      that we got, and when getting a waiver from the

      15      federal government, to account to the Legislature

      16      and the Governor, and to the public, about how we

      17      spend $57 billion in the P-12 system in the state of

      18      New York.

      19             I would, if you'll permit me just to share a

      20      couple of best practices, because I think they're

      21      very, very noteworthy in terms of implementing the

      22      Common Core and the Reform Agenda, as well as

      23      teacher development and leadership development, the

      24      goal, of course, is, at the end of twelfth grade, to

      25      be career- and college-ready.







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       1             We think that's an admirable, achievable goal

       2      for all students.

       3             And so the question is, then, What about

       4      these learning standards?

       5             What are they?

       6             How good are they?

       7             How much do we know about them; that is to

       8      say, how much have we shared with parents?

       9             How many teachers have been trained and

      10      retrained and offered professional development in

      11      the learning standards?

      12             And in the case of Lew-Port School District,

      13      which is in Niagara County, Senator Maziarz's

      14      district, the school down there where my

      15      two granddaughters go, in fourth grade and

      16      eighth grade, took the time, on several occasions,

      17      to have sessions for parents about:

      18             Why are we doing these new learning

      19      standards?

      20             Why are they a higher level of learning?

      21             Why are they requiring better teaching?

      22             Why are we doing this at every single grade

      23      level?

      24             And, what do we expect of a graduate to be

      25      able to achieve?







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       1             So there were lots of questions and answers.

       2             And in the case of Lew-Port, they, as many

       3      schools do, track the assessment of their students

       4      every week; so that my daughter can tell whether

       5      Alice and Claire are doing well every single week.

       6             And part of that assessment, of course, is an

       7      assessment, in terms of their portfolio, their

       8      files, their projects, whatever tests that they

       9      decided on locally that they would think would be

      10      useful to kids.

      11             Because, one of their philosophies is, kids

      12      learn a lot from making mistakes, and it's quite all

      13      right to make a mistake, because you can really then

      14      learn what you should have done, and it's very

      15      helpful.

      16             The other example I would give, and this is

      17      Amherst, which I believe you know about already --

      18             I know Senator Ranzenhofer knows about

      19      Amherst.

      20             -- but I would say to you that, in 2010,

      21      Amherst knew that the Common Core had been adopted

      22      by the Regents, and they introduced an instructional

      23      action plan at that time, and so they spent about

      24      14 months in training all their teachers, all their

      25      teacher aides, all their assistant principals, all







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       1      their principals, the superintendent, and selected

       2      school-board members, on "What does this mean for

       3      our students?"

       4             And then they had several sessions with

       5      parents, and explained to them why this might be a

       6      little more difficult in grades 3 through 8.

       7             And, in fact, when the test results came out,

       8      they're fully prepared to explain it.

       9             But they said a very, very bad approach would

      10      be trying to teach to the test; doesn't work.

      11             These are deeper-understanding requirements

      12      in the Common Core, and they expect more from

      13      students, and they expect students to be fully

      14      engaged.

      15             So it is not test prep in Amherst, at least,

      16      and in many of their colleague districts in my area,

      17      which would include Clarence, Williamsville,

      18      Sweet Home, and so forth.

      19             They made sure that there was a major role

      20      for teachers in every step of the way, including

      21      teacher leaders, and I think that the superintendent

      22      there would attribute the success and the progress

      23      they're making, and they say it is a

      24      work-in-progress still, is because they engaged

      25      teachers from the beginning.







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       1             So when the Commissioner came there, he heard

       2      mostly from teachers and parents about why it's

       3      working in Amherst.

       4             And, so, I think that that's an example that

       5      it can be done, and it could be done; it's an

       6      embracement of the Common Core Learning Standards.

       7             She also shared with me, the superintendent

       8      there, that EngageNY, in the last year, has improved

       9      remarkably in terms of opportunities to take

      10      advantage of, in terms of what should be done and

      11      how it should be done.

      12             They participated in all the training that

      13      have been offered for the network teams through

      14      BOCES, and in Albany, and there's a really, really

      15      solid relationship in terms of use of EngageNY.

      16             So I think, I hope, the attachments that

      17      Nicholas has prepared, and you probably already

      18      have, answer many, many questions.

      19             And I'd be certainly happy to answer any

      20      questions that you might have, and I will conclude.

      21             And I kind of read from an outline, if that

      22      was okay.

      23                  [Laughter.]

      24             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  Thank you very

      25      much.







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       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Regent Bennett, first of

       2      all, thank you for your service.

       3             Appreciate the work that you do do.

       4             And, Senator Gallivan.

       5             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  We hear the college- or

       6      career-ready often, and I know that I attended a

       7      hearing in Albany that the Commissioner was at about

       8      a year or two ago, and we talked about that.

       9             Clearly, everybody would acknowledge that

      10      college is not for everybody.

      11             I mean, I think we understand that.

      12             Up until about a year or two ago, I was

      13      hearing many complaints that there was just no room

      14      in the high school curriculum to prepare kids for

      15      something else other than college.

      16             So despite hearing the career- and

      17      college-ready, what changes have been made?

      18             It seems that there has been some changes

      19      made in the last several years about the

      20      career-ready part of it.

      21             REGENT ROBERT BENNETT:  Correct.

      22             We have had 450 new career-oriented,

      23      career-pathway programs registered with the State.

      24             And in order to register and be approved, you

      25      have to demonstrate that these are legitimate







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       1      careers with real jobs, with real pay, and,

       2      requirements that you have to, again, prepare

       3      properly for that career, and very likely take a

       4      test to enter the career, take a test at the end of

       5      that career preparation.

       6             So, more programs have been registered.

       7             In addition, and this has been true for about

       8      six years now, school districts can already offer

       9      nine credit hours in career-pathway types of

      10      courses.

      11             I would like to see that doubled, quite

      12      frankly, and increase the number of credits for

      13      graduation.

      14             But -- and I've made that known to my

      15      colleagues on the board.

      16             But I think, if we're gonna be really serious

      17      about career education for all students, then we

      18      have to act accordingly and really begin in seventh

      19      grade, and prepare all of our districts for that

      20      fact.

      21             Now, some districts do it better than others.

      22             Many use BOCES.

      23             But, in the case of Buffalo, for example,

      24      Emerson High School is probably one of the best

      25      career-pathway programs there is.







                                                                  24
       1             It's a restaurant that's entirely run by

       2      students, and they do very well on Regents exams.

       3             They are learning practical applications of

       4      what they're reading in their textbooks, and so they

       5      do it every day.

       6             They order the food; they store the food.

       7             They prepare the food; they serve the food.

       8             They run the cash register; they account for

       9      the money.

      10             And then they go to class and learn what they

      11      did, and what they gotta do the next day to serve

      12      their customers.

      13             So it's a really great success story.

      14             I wish we had a lot of more of those

      15      throughout the state.

      16             And if it takes legislation, then I would

      17      certainly be the first in line to encourage it, to

      18      be able to change the nature of the curriculum to

      19      offer more career-oriented courses, and we're not

      20      going to worry about the assessments because they

      21      already exist.

      22             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  How are schools looked

      23      at -- I mean, are schools looked at differently, if

      24      on a local basis they say that, "We've got more

      25      kids, especially in rural areas," and we look at the







                                                                  25
       1      opportunities, and we hear of that skills gap:

       2      manufacturing, agriculture, engineering; businesses

       3      like that?

       4             Engineering, I guess, would be excepted out

       5      of that, even though there is the gap because of the

       6      higher education required, but we keep hearing of

       7      these skills gap, and it's different in different

       8      regions of the state.

       9             Are any schools -- I mean, do schools have

      10      the opportunity to take their students in the

      11      direction that's best for them?

      12             Or, under the new standards, is everything

      13      completely standardized that you can't have any

      14      local flavor?

      15             REGENT ROBERT BENNETT:  No, there's many

      16      opportunities in the English and math implementation

      17      to draw in other subject matters, which Amherst has

      18      already done, so you'll see the learning standards

      19      alive and well in science and in history and global

      20      studies, and where they've integrated the

      21      curriculum, they have co-teaching opportunities.

      22             The rural areas have done an extraordinarily

      23      good job in career-pathway programs, and in

      24      contracting the community colleges to have

      25      early-learning opportunities, and particularly in







                                                                  26
       1      the field of agriculture for which there are many,

       2      many jobs.

       3             Paul Smith College, for example, is

       4      contracting with school districts up in the

       5      North Country, and I never would have thought of

       6      this, for jobs in forestry.

       7             They don't -- they can't find enough people.

       8             Light manufacturing is an unmet need in

       9      Buffalo right now; and so BOCES, and I hope Buffalo,

      10      will pay attention to that and develop that.

      11             They're free to do it right now.

      12             It's not contrary at all to the learning

      13      standards.

      14             NICHOLAS STORELLI-CASTRO:  If I could just

      15      add, one perfect example of what the

      16      Chancellor Emeritus was discussing was

      17      P-TECH schools, which you may have heard of.

      18             We have --

      19             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  I'm sorry, what schools?

      20             NICHOLAS STORELLI-CASTRO:  P-TECH schools.

      21             In the state budget, there was an allocation

      22      that created grants for 10 schools throughout the

      23      state.

      24             We actually ended up funding 16 schools

      25      throughout the state to replicate the P-TECH







                                                                  27
       1      high school in Brooklyn.

       2             This has really been a great success story.

       3             It was mentioned in the State of the Union.

       4             It's basically a marriage between a

       5      high school in New York City, which was before it

       6      was -- before, this was a struggling school, adopted

       7      sort of by IBM, the City University of New York now

       8      offers career training.

       9             The graduates are first in line for jobs at

      10      IBM.

      11             They graduate with an associate's degree, at

      12      no charge to the students.

      13             We're now replicating those schools

      14      throughout the state in every region of the state.

      15             The one in this portion of the state escapes

      16      my mind, I'll get that to you.

      17             But, this is an example where the schools are

      18      able to partner -- the requirements are to partner

      19      with industry in the region, partner with the

      20      higher-education institution in the region; graduate

      21      those kids with, not only an associate's degree at

      22      no charges to the students, but with the skills to

      23      then enter that career field.

      24             And the goal here is to train kids for those

      25      essential jobs in each region.







                                                                  28
       1             So we're very excited about it.

       2             We're in the planning year.

       3             Those schools will open in the coming school

       4      year, and we'll hopefully prepare kids, as you

       5      mentioned, Senator, for sort of the local career

       6      needs.

       7             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  The local example

       8      is Trocaire, City of Lackawanna School District, and

       9      the health care -- and the health-care field with

      10      the Catholic Health System.

      11             There's another example, and I hope that in

      12      the next legislative session, we can make

      13      charter schools eligible for all of these RFPs that

      14      come out, because right now, for some reason,

      15      I don't understand the reason, they're not eligible

      16      for a P-TECH grant or a community school.

      17             Right now we have the health sciences charter

      18      school which, in fact, is governed by all the health

      19      employers in Buffalo and Erie county, in the

      20      Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

      21             Those kids are guaranteed a job, or,

      22      subsidies to go on for a two- or four-year degree.

      23             And, there's going to be a gap for

      24      health workers in our community of, roughly, six to

      25      ten thousand people over the next five years.







                                                                  29
       1             So this is one school that is attacking that

       2      problem, with three or four hundred kids.

       3             No conflict of interest here.

       4             My daughter's involved in that, and she's

       5      sitting in the audience.

       6             Is she still awake?

       7             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  So far, yeah.

       8             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  Oh, good.

       9                  [Laughter.]

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Senator Ranzenhofer.

      11             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Thank you, Chairman.

      12             And before I ask my question, I just want to

      13      thank the Chairman for convening this hearing.

      14             As he said, there are a lot of entities, such

      15      as the Assembly, the Governor, and others that are

      16      not conducting these hearings.

      17             But I just want to thank you for your

      18      leadership in bringing this series of five hearings,

      19      one here to Buffalo and Western New York.

      20             I will just note for the record, that,

      21      although you've not been in this chambers, I know

      22      you're no stranger to Western New York and have been

      23      here many, many times on the issue of education.

      24             For Regent Bennett, first of all, thank you

      25      for your service.







                                                                  30
       1             And, I just want to pick up on the

       2      conversation that you were just having with

       3      Senator Gallivan.

       4             And my understanding right now, in order to

       5      get a Regents diploma, is you just need a certain

       6      number of units in math and you need a certain

       7      number of units in science, until you have the

       8      appropriate number of units in order to graduate

       9      with a Regents diploma; but, yet, the policy, and

      10      you're talking about trying to match education with

      11      employment.

      12             Like, for instance, in the area of

      13      computer science, if you took computer-science

      14      courses, that would not count towards your math or

      15      your science requirement.

      16             And some of these other programs that you're

      17      talking about, whether it be engineering or applied

      18      technologies, the policy of the Regents, as

      19      I understand, is not to credit those towards your

      20      graduation.

      21             So my question is:

      22             With these Common Core Standards, and trying

      23      to be college- and career-ready, is there any

      24      opportunity to give credit for the non-traditional,

      25      you know, math, science, but some of these other







                                                                  31
       1      areas, like computer science and others, where you

       2      can get credit for taking these courses; and again,

       3      many of them may be more applicable in today's

       4      workforce than simply the math and the science that

       5      we had?

       6             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  There are some

       7      opportunities, but they're not enough.

       8             I think the curriculum needs a thorough

       9      attack and revisit, which is on our agenda, and has

      10      been for a while, particularly in career and

      11      tech ed, but, right now, students can take applied

      12      math and applied English and other applied courses

      13      and get credit; in some other courses they can't,

      14      and that's what we probably should try to change.

      15             Because I think the choices for students

      16      should be the order of the day as long as they are

      17      proficient in math and English as a basic tenet,

      18      because --

      19             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  And I would say that if

      20      you're taking a computer-science course, which

      21      I think is a higher-level learning requirement, that

      22      certainly would qualify as, you know, basic

      23      math/science principles.

      24             Again, that's just one example.

      25             You know, you had mentioned some other







                                                                  32
       1      examples where credit is being given, but,

       2      certainly, you know, some of those higher-learning

       3      areas, like computer science, I think would

       4      encompass that, and I think you'd have a better job,

       5      because, you know, kids don't take classes they

       6      don't get credit for in graduation.

       7             I think that would actually help your

       8      Common Core Standards, in getting more kids in

       9      classes that have a direct application for them

      10      going out, either to college or to the workforce,

      11      because, you know, you talk about the, for instance,

      12      jobs in agriculture.

      13             A lot of people think of jobs in agriculture

      14      as jobs on the farm, but if you go to some of these

      15      plants, you have people running very high-tech

      16      machines and computer systems.

      17             You know, it's not the notion of, you know,

      18      sitting on the stool, you know, in these type of --

      19      whether it's food processing, milking of dairy, or

      20      whatever the case may be.

      21             You know, these jobs require high school,

      22      and, in many cases, college education, in order to

      23      acquire those skills.

      24             So I think that by encouraging kids to take

      25      some of these type of classes -- and, again, I'm







                                                                  33
       1      just picking on computer science because it just

       2      seems the natural fit -- I think that you would, you

       3      know, do a better job of getting these kids

       4      career-ready, college-ready, because it's a very

       5      applicable with-it type of course that a lot of kids

       6      would take if you were able to make that adjustment.

       7             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  I totally agree,

       8      and I think more applied-type courses should be

       9      introduced, and the sooner the better, because

      10      I think that, in the field of technology in

      11      particular, I think the students are way ahead of

      12      everybody.

      13             When I was forced to buy an iPad, I asked

      14      my third-grade granddaughter to show me how the hell

      15      it worked, and I said, "What are all these symbols?"

      16             She said, "You only to have worry about two

      17      of them, grandpa, and it will work for you"; and she

      18      showed me, and by Lord in heaven, it works.

      19             It's great, it really is.

      20             So they don't know anything else, and so how

      21      we apply that, though, to the basics, is very

      22      important.

      23             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Thank you.

      24             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Regent Bennett, just a

      25      couple of things, as much comment, or comments, as,







                                                                  34
       1      potentially, a question.

       2             Yesterday I had a chance to meet with

       3      Senator Ranzenhofer in some of his districts, and

       4      I would clearly agree that there were at least

       5      several superintendents who felt that EngageNY had

       6      come a long way, and that there's a wealth of

       7      information.

       8             At the same time, there is a frustration that

       9      it's almost a little too rote; that it's hard to get

      10      a human being on the phone.

      11             And if you are a school district personnel or

      12      administration, that doesn't necessarily make you

      13      special in any way, other than, if you're the head

      14      of an entity, sometimes it might not be a bad idea

      15      to give them access to people so that they can get

      16      more timely responses.

      17             That's part of one thing that we heard

      18      yesterday, and not isolated.

      19             I've heard that before.

      20             I would say, listening to what has transpired

      21      at these hearings, but in a whole slew of meetings

      22      separate from these hearings, I think the problem

      23      that the Regents in particular have is a perception

      24      of a major disconnect between, SED and the Regents,

      25      and the people who are educating our children,







                                                                  35
       1      whether they're principals, as you spoke to directly

       2      before, or teachers or parents, trying to wrap their

       3      arms around these fundamental changes.

       4             It seems to me that you have complaints about

       5      SED not listening; you have complaints about

       6      SED listening but not doing anything.

       7             And in my estimation, I feel that SED is

       8      listening, but there are not a lot of changes

       9      coming, and people I think have some expectation

      10      that there should be some modifications; a slowing

      11      down, a smoothing of the implementation of

      12      Common Core.

      13             SED had represented that there should be

      14      assessments and curriculum; they have to go hand in

      15      hand, or hand in glove, and if you don't do it that

      16      way, it's not going to work.

      17             A lot of the people who spoke previously said

      18      you don't have to do it that way; you don't have to

      19      align them instantaneously.

      20             So it strikes me that where we are going to

      21      see a much more significant impact is, this year,

      22      with the implementations of the Common Core into the

      23      Regents.

      24             And while we can talk about third- through

      25      eighth-grade assessments, where parents are really







                                                                  36
       1      going to pay a lot more attention, in my estimation,

       2      is when their child is coming home with a Regents

       3      score that could be 20 to 30 points lower than it

       4      traditionally has been.

       5             That could affect their ability to graduate,

       6      that could affect their ability to accessing higher

       7      education.

       8             And I would ask you to comment on that, but

       9      I would strongly suggest that that, to me, and all

      10      the people I've been talking to, that seems to be

      11      where one of the major disconnects exist between

      12      people in Albany and the people out in the field.

      13             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  I think with

      14      regard to the availability of people in Albany, as

      15      you well know, the State Education Department has

      16      lost about 475 people in the last four years, for

      17      budget reasons, and we've not really been able to

      18      make much of that up at all.

      19             It's not an excuse, it's just a reality.

      20             But I do think better customer service would

      21      be appropriate for sure, and I think that the timing

      22      of the implementation of the Common Core, my worry

      23      is, that there are -- I believe the majority of the

      24      districts, like Amherst and their colleagues, are

      25      well underway in implementation of the Common Core.







                                                                  37
       1             And this was really a forgiving year, in the

       2      sense that no new schools would be identified, and

       3      "proceed with caution" was the advice in terms of

       4      teacher evaluation and principal evaluation.

       5             My hope is we'll pay much more attention to

       6      principal evaluation, given the significance of that

       7      job.

       8             But your point is well-taken.

       9             Whether or not Regents exams in 2014 should

      10      be introduced, we believe they should be.

      11             There have been three years to prepare.

      12             I would be hopeful that the locals have

      13      gotten themselves prepared for that.

      14             I think what we learned in the 3-through-8,

      15      while the scores went down, the explanation of what

      16      happened, and the comparison to last year, helped,

      17      the conversion chart.

      18             But what I had a chance to do with the

      19      delegation here, the Assembly and Senate, was

      20      explain to them how the scores were determined, in

      21      terms of, when the Commissioner assembled about

      22      90 teachers in the summertime, that looked at each

      23      question for each grade level over a period of

      24      five days and nights, in separate groups, then as a

      25      collaborative group, in terms of:







                                                                  38
       1             Was the question fair?

       2             Was it based on a learning standard or more

       3      than one learning standard?

       4             It had to be or it was thrown out.

       5             And what should a student reasonably expect

       6      to achieve at that particular level?

       7             And they decided independently, and then

       8      collectively, what the cut score would be, and these

       9      were almost exclusively teachers from around the

      10      state.

      11             I'm happy to say Western New York was

      12      well-represented.

      13             And so that, when they came out, they're

      14      shocked, of course; however, they're a beginning

      15      base to say, we've got to do better every grade

      16      level, and we've got to get kids ready, because

      17      we -- right now, we are not competitive in terms of

      18      our graduates.

      19             I'm worried that the 2013 graduates are still

      20      going to have trouble, when they go to college or a

      21      career, not being able to demonstrate that they

      22      understand basic math and English.

      23             You can't get a job at GM Powertrain unless

      24      you know technology and you know algebra, because

      25      the sophistication of those machines that are







                                                                  39
       1      developing more engines than anywhere in the world,

       2      you've got to have that, or you will not be hired.

       3             So I think there's a staffing issue; however,

       4      we can do a better job of responsiveness.

       5             I've had my own experience with kids.

       6             The letters I take the most seriously from

       7      parents, are the parents of kids with special needs.

       8             I personally follow up on every single one of

       9      them, because I think these kids need our help more

      10      than any other child.

      11             And so pushing the State or pushing a school

      12      district to do the right thing for these kids, that

      13      I basically take on myself, and I know many of my

      14      colleagues in the Regents are pretty involved, some

      15      more than others.

      16             But I think the point is well-made.

      17             I will make sure that my colleagues know that

      18      there is a perception that we're not as

      19      well-connected as we might be to the 700 school

      20      districts that exist.

      21             There are some districts that we are

      22      extraordinarily connected to, for obvious reasons:

      23      the performance is very seriously low.

      24             And, that's an ongoing saga.

      25             But I appreciate the comment, I really do.







                                                                  40
       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you very much.

       2             REGENT ROBERT M. BENNETT:  Thank you.

       3             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Appreciate your time.

       4             Next we have Dr. Bolgen Vargas and

       5      Dr. Pam Brown, superintendents, respectively, of

       6      Rochester and Buffalo.

       7             Is Dr. Brown with us?

       8             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  This is Dr. Brown.

       9             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Oh, I apologize.

      10             DR. PAM BROWN:  Dr. Brown.

      11             I'm not sure if my colleague is here.

      12             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  My apologies.

      13             Dr. Brown, why don't you start, and we can

      14      wait for your colleague from Rochester.

      15             And, again, I would, please, just summarize

      16      your testimony.

      17             I know it's been submitted.

      18             DR. PAM BROWN:  Okay.

      19             Well, good morning.

      20             Senator Flanagan, and honorable members of

      21      the New York State Standing Committee on Education,

      22      I really appreciate this opportunity to discuss such

      23      an important issue with you today, and that of

      24      assessing our progress as we implement the

      25      Regents Reform Agenda and Common Core Learning







                                                                  41
       1      Standards.

       2             When I first came to Buffalo a little over a

       3      year ago, I brought with me a vision of providing a

       4      world-class education for every child, and since

       5      that time, the district has adopted that vision;

       6      and, certainly, our mission is to focus on preparing

       7      every child for college and careers.

       8             And I want to begin my remarks by saying that

       9      I agree with the Commissioner of Education and the

      10      Board of Regents on the need to provide rigorous

      11      instruction for every student at every grade level,

      12      and to measure our progress all along the way so

      13      that we can make sure that all of our students are

      14      going to be graduating on time and fully prepared

      15      for college and careers.

      16             Like many urban school districts, our

      17      students face some challenges in achieving those

      18      goals.

      19             We have a poverty rate of approximately

      20      86 percent, and as you probably know, poverty is the

      21      number one predictor of success in school.

      22             The achievement gap between children who live

      23      in poverty and those who -- from more affluent

      24      families continues to grow.

      25             As a recent study shows, that was conducted







                                                                  42
       1      by Sean Reardon of Stanford University, over the

       2      last 50 years, the gap in standardized test scores

       3      between rich and poor families has actually

       4      increased by a staggering 40 percent, and that gap

       5      continues to grow.

       6             Another challenge that we face in Buffalo is

       7      that of an increasing population of students who

       8      certainly enhance the diversity in our district and

       9      give our students great access to other cultures and

      10      languages, but certainly provides more challenge for

      11      us in terms of being able to teach the

      12      English-language learners who are of a population

      13      that continues to increase.

      14             I think we're at about 16 percent, as

      15      I speak.

      16             And, so, teaching the children English so

      17      that they're able to fully engage in instruction at

      18      our schools, and, certainly, to demonstrate their

      19      competency on state tests, is certainly a challenge

      20      for us in Buffalo.

      21             However, we as a district and community are

      22      rising to meet these challenges.

      23             First and foremost, what we're doing, is

      24      working with our leaders and teachers to make sure

      25      that instruction is strengthened in every classroom







                                                                  43
       1      throughout the district, and, that that instruction

       2      is fully aligned with the new Common Core Learning

       3      Standards, and that it is informed by data to which

       4      our teachers and all of our staff members have

       5      increasing access.

       6             So, some additional things that we're doing

       7      in the district to meet these challenges include:

       8             We have a new five-year strategic plan that

       9      really will serve as the blueprint for our progress

      10      as we move forward;

      11             We are brokering partnerships and

      12      strategically using the resources that are available

      13      to us to provide opportunities for extended learning

      14      time.

      15             As we know, when students are behind in their

      16      academic performance, they need, not only great

      17      instruction, but they also generally need some

      18      additional time with that grade instruction in order

      19      to catch up.

      20             And, so, we have worked with

      21      11 community-based organizations; Say Yes to

      22      Education; we're partnering with the city, the

      23      county, and certainly utilizing district resources;

      24      to make sure that we are providing access to

      25      extended learning time, particularly for our







                                                                  44
       1      45 priority and focus schools.

       2             We are putting additional intervention

       3      systems into place.

       4             We are very cognizant of our graduation rate

       5      and we know that that is one of our top priorities

       6      in terms of increasing it.

       7             Our goal is to increase our graduation rate

       8      to at least 80 percent by 2018, and we know that

       9      that's a tall order, but we certainly believe that

      10      we can achieve that goal, and we are putting

      11      strategies into place so that we will make that goal

      12      a reality.

      13             Some of those strategies include new data

      14      systems.

      15             We have a new data dashboard that we're

      16      using, which now includes a graduation monitoring

      17      site, where we can look at, not only district-wide,

      18      but school by school, what percentage of our

      19      students are on track to graduate, what percentage

      20      are just off-track and maybe just need to make up

      21      one or two credits, which ones need more intensive

      22      intervention.

      23             And we're looking at that data and putting

      24      programs into place to bring more students on track

      25      to graduate on time.







                                                                  45
       1             An example of that is our new STAR Academy.

       2             "STAR" stands for the Student Transition to

       3      Academic Recovery, which will serve up to

       4      200 students who are over-age and under-credited.

       5             This will be through an extended day program,

       6      through the use of technology and other

       7      interventions, to try to get those students back on

       8      track to graduate on time.

       9             We are increasing access to career- and

      10      technical-education programs.

      11             The board just approved a new policy this

      12      past spring to reduce some of the criteria that had

      13      been required for students to get into those

      14      programs.

      15             We are providing extensive professional

      16      development and coaching for our administrators and

      17      teachers in particular.

      18             We have just completed a new reorganization

      19      plan, which includes four Offices of School

      20      Leadership, which will be headed by chiefs of school

      21      leadership who will work with principals and provide

      22      coaching and professional development for them, to

      23      make sure that their instructional leadership skills

      24      are strong.

      25             And there are also coaches in those offices







                                                                  46
       1      who will work with coaches and teachers at the

       2      school level.

       3             We have a new student code of conduct.

       4             We are working to continue to decrease the

       5      student suspension rate, as well as student

       6      attendance.

       7             We have -- the board has passed a new

       8      resolution on creating a high school that will be

       9      focused on medical careers, and so we are seeking

      10      partnerships to make that a reality.

      11             And we hope that that school will open in

      12      September of 2014, which will also assist us with

      13      our public-school-choice challenge that we are

      14      facing at this point in time.

      15             The board has also passed a new resolution to

      16      seek the opportunity to reduce the compulsory

      17      student attendance age to 4.

      18             As we look at the research across

      19      industrialized countries throughout the world, we

      20      know that the U.S. certainly does not rank among the

      21      top countries in terms of the percentage of our

      22      students who have access to pre-kindergarten

      23      programs by age 4.

      24             And there is much research to indicate that

      25      the more students have that pre-kindergarten







                                                                  47
       1      opportunity, certainly, in strong instructional

       2      programs, that the better prepared they are for

       3      kindergarten, and the better opportunity they have

       4      to be on track, and, certainly, college- and

       5      career-ready throughout their educational career.

       6             We are taking steps to enhance our

       7      curriculum.

       8             We've adopted a new English-language arts

       9      textbook and eResource series through

      10      Houghton Mifflin.

      11             We have begun using the math modules from the

      12      State Education Department.

      13             We're also piloting a core-knowledge early

      14      childhood education program that's being provided to

      15      us by the State Education Department.

      16             And, so, those are some of the things that we

      17      are doing to address the challenges that we face,

      18      and we have begun to see some progress.

      19             As of this past school year, our attendance

      20      rate increased, and we also saw a significant

      21      decline in chronic and severe absenteeism.

      22             We had about 12 percent fewer students being

      23      suspended from school.

      24             We saw a significant decline in our student

      25      dropout rate.







                                                                  48
       1             Our preliminary data for our graduation rate

       2      indicates a sharp increase there.

       3             And we certainly saw an increase in the

       4      number and percentage of our graduating seniors who

       5      applied for college and vocational school.

       6             And, so, we certainly will continue to work

       7      on that.

       8             And, with all of that, we certainly

       9      understand that, as we look at our college- and

      10      career-readiness rates among our seniors, as well as

      11      our students in grades 3 through 8, we have a lot of

      12      work to do, and so we believe that by continuing to

      13      implement some of the interventions and strategies

      14      that I have mentioned to you, or all of them, and

      15      perhaps more, that we will be able to reach rigorous

      16      goals and objectives.

      17             Some assistance that we would request from

      18      the State Education Department would include:

      19             Providing more opportunities for us to

      20      increase and enhance access to extended learning

      21      time for our students;

      22             Helping us to decrease -- to change that

      23      compulsory attendance age to age 4;

      24             Providing more diagnostic information on

      25      state test scores that we receive so that we can use







                                                                  49
       1      that data to drive our planning;

       2             And, providing faster access to student

       3      performance and accountability data.

       4             And, so, I want to conclude my remarks by

       5      thanking you, Senator Flanagan, and all of your

       6      distinguished colleagues, for providing this

       7      opportunity for me to address you this morning on

       8      this very important topic.

       9             We are absolutely committed to making sure

      10      that we see drastic improvement in our schools in

      11      Buffalo.

      12             We know that can happen, and we appreciate

      13      the opportunity to share some of the strategies that

      14      we are implementing, with you.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you.

      16             Senator Gallivan -- I'm sorry.

      17             Before I go to Senator Gallivan, we've been

      18      joined by our colleague Senator Mark Grisanti.

      19             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Thank you,

      20      Senator Flanagan.

      21             Senator Gallivan.

      22             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you, Chairman.

      23             Dr. Brown, thank you for your testimony.

      24             You indicated that the dropout rate is

      25      declining.







                                                                  50
       1             Do you know what that is?

       2             DR. PAM BROWN:  The dropout rate from the

       3      2011-12 school year was over 28 percent, and this

       4      past year it was just over 23 percent.

       5             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  All right, thanks.

       6             At the very end of your testimony, you talked

       7      about a number of what I believe to be very

       8      important things, but, looking for the State help,

       9      I'm translating most of it into the way -- I'm

      10      translating most of it into a request for addition

      11      funding.

      12             Is that an accurate assumption?

      13             DR. PAM BROWN:  Well, some of it would

      14      include additional funding.

      15             As we look at -- we have 45 priority and

      16      focus schools.

      17             We had four of those schools that ended their

      18      school-improvement grant funding this past school

      19      year, and for those four schools, there was no

      20      additional funding coming from the State to sustain

      21      some of the strategies that had been put into place,

      22      that in those schools we were beginning to see some

      23      progress.

      24             In order to sustain that progress, I think

      25      that it would be beneficial for us to work with the







                                                                  51
       1      State to identify those strategies that seem to be

       2      working and that seem to be promoting progress, and

       3      then have an opportunity to sustain that progress

       4      through some level of additional school-improvement

       5      grant funding, for example.

       6             I talked about extended learning time.

       7             I know that there is some grant funding

       8      available for this coming school year, and for the

       9      next few school years, and we certainly intend to

      10      pursue that funding, but, we will have to see

      11      whether we will be one of the districts that will be

      12      selected to receive that funding.

      13             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Yeah, I do want to come

      14      back to the extended learning time, but I just want

      15      to ask one more question as it relates to funding.

      16             While I'm not exactly sure, statewide, on a

      17      per-pupil basis, City of Buffalo receives more State

      18      funding than any school in Western New York, far and

      19      away.

      20             So I think the question that jumps out that

      21      I'm sure you hear time and time again, how do you

      22      answer, if you're getting more money and more State

      23      funding than anyone else, with results that are

      24      substandard, or, as compared to everybody else,

      25      don't meet all these other schools' successes, how







                                                                  52
       1      can you make a request for additional funding?

       2             DR. PAM BROWN:  Well, first of all, I would

       3      say that Buffalo is the third-poorest city in the

       4      country.

       5             And as I've shared, and as I'm sure that you

       6      are aware, poverty is a strong predictor of school

       7      success.

       8             And, certainly, I think it becomes apparent,

       9      as we looked at the research and some of the data

      10      that I have shared in terms of access to

      11      pre-kindergarten in the United States, and including

      12      in Buffalo, there is a need for additional funding

      13      for children who live in poverty.

      14             And where we have such a high concentration

      15      of poverty, among the highest in the United States,

      16      I would hope that that would be taken into

      17      consideration.

      18             It costs more to educate children who live in

      19      poverty.

      20             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Now I will move off of --

      21             DR. PAM BROWN:  In addition --

      22             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Oh, I'm sorry.

      23             I'll move off of the funding, because I know

      24      that's not the real focus of this.

      25             DR. PAM BROWN:  Okay.







                                                                  53
       1             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  But let's go to the --

       2      just talk briefly about the extended learning time;

       3      the after-school, extended school-day instruction.

       4             With what you're doing so far, what level of

       5      participation are you getting?

       6             DR. PAM BROWN:  Well, this past school year,

       7      we provided an after-school academic program lasting

       8      two hours in each one of our priority and focus

       9      schools.

      10             We extended the invitation to all students.

      11             We had I think, initially, about half of the

      12      students signed up to participate in the

      13      after-school program.

      14             Those numbers did decline in some sites

      15      throughout the school year.

      16             But, I think it's important to note that we

      17      have seen some improvement in student performance,

      18      and I believe that some of that is attributable, not

      19      only to the after-school program that we offered

      20      this past year in 44 schools, but we also had a

      21      comprehensive summer-school program that actually

      22      yielded an additional 121 graduates, in addition to

      23      improvement on pre- and post-test scores for other

      24      students who participated in the summer program.

      25             So we know that we're seeing progress being







                                                                  54
       1      generated, to some extent, as a result of these

       2      extended learning-time programs.

       3             We will certainly work on increasing

       4      attendance.

       5             That is certainly a major focus of ours for

       6      this year as we launch an even more extensive

       7      program through our partnership with Say Yes to

       8      Education.

       9             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  And my final question,

      10      actually, it follows through on that, the extended

      11      learning, I mean, while we don't have any direct

      12      indicator of cause of family breakdown, certainly,

      13      in areas where you see greater poverty, you see more

      14      problems in family and less family support.

      15             One thing not talked about today, but I think

      16      that you'll likely agree with, is family support for

      17      kids in school is, maybe not critical, but extremely

      18      important.

      19             DR. PAM BROWN:  Absolutely.

      20             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  If we continue with this

      21      cycle of poverty, and the family structure stays the

      22      way that it is, because jobs aren't available, for

      23      whatever other distractions there may be, can you

      24      have success with the extended learning in these

      25      after-school programs?







                                                                  55
       1             DR. PAM BROWN:  Absolutely.

       2             I think that, certainly, the strongest

       3      indicator -- or, the strongest factors in terms of

       4      promoting academic gains, are those that we can

       5      control in our schools; certainly, through strong

       6      leadership and strong instructional practices in all

       7      of our classrooms.

       8             And so that is certainly a strong focus of

       9      ours, but, in addition, we are implementing a number

      10      of strategies to increase parent and community

      11      engagement.

      12             We have a parent facilitator in every school

      13      this year.

      14             This year, for the first time, we've launched

      15      a school-based budgeting process to increase equity,

      16      and so that the funds follow the children.

      17             And we have charged these school-based

      18      management teams in those schools, which include

      19      administrators, teachers, and parents, with looking

      20      at their data, determining their school's needs, and

      21      using their resources to meet those needs.

      22             So they have more autonomy with the use of

      23      resources, along with the accountability that we

      24      know all of our schools have.

      25             We've also started using interpreters in all







                                                                  56
       1      of our district-sponsored events.

       2             And, so, those are some of the things that

       3      we're doing to try to engage parents more in our

       4      schools.

       5             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Okay, thanks.

       6             I could spend the next four hours in

       7      discussions with you, but for the sake of the

       8      respect of everyone else's time, and our Chairman,

       9      thank you very much.

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Senator Grisanti.

      11             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Thank you,

      12      Senator Flanagan.

      13             Good morning, Dr. Brown; how are you?

      14             DR. PAM BROWN:  Good morning.

      15             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  You know, the -- you

      16      know, it's such a cumulative problem, when you look

      17      at the Buffalo School District, because not only is

      18      it about parents not being involved, and I'm glad to

      19      see that you're trying to implement some parent

      20      groups into some after-school programs, and do what

      21      you can with regards to attendance, and things along

      22      those lines.

      23             I think that's something that needs to be

      24      done.

      25             Just implementing, recently, interpreters in







                                                                  57
       1      the classroom, I think is far overdo, considering

       2      that I don't think students that speak 45 different

       3      languages just showed up this past year.

       4             The concern that I have, and the concern that

       5      I think a lot of people have, is on the graduation

       6      rates.

       7             Now, the last time we talked, I don't think

       8      the numbers came out yet, but I know what the

       9      graduation rates were for Hispanics, for

      10      African-Americans, and for Caucasians for the priors

      11      years.

      12             Do you have exact numbers now as to what it

      13      was this past year?

      14             DR. PAM BROWN:  Well, I have preliminary data

      15      from this past year, and that preliminary data

      16      indicates that our overall graduation rate, as of

      17      the end of our summer program in August, was about

      18      56 percent, and that's up from 48 -- just under

      19      48 percent from the previous school year.

      20             As we look at, for example, our

      21      African-American male graduation rates, which I know

      22      is a group of huge concern in the city, that rate is

      23      just over 40 percent.

      24             Now, you know, we're still reviewing and

      25      auditing some of our data, but I believe that from







                                                                  58
       1      the previous year, what I was hearing, was that that

       2      rate was around 27 percent.

       3             So we do want to verify that, but we know

       4      that this past year it was just over 40 percent;

       5      and, similarly, for Latino male students in the

       6      district.

       7             So we do believe that we have seen an

       8      increase among those student populations, but,

       9      again, 40-some percent and 56 percent, I know that

      10      those rates are not acceptable to anyone in the city

      11      of Buffalo or in the state of New York.

      12             So while we recognize that progress, we know

      13      that we have to continue to work hard to make sure

      14      that those numbers are increasing.

      15             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  And, you know, the

      16      concern that I have, is because we have a great

      17      program in Say Yes to Education.

      18             DR. PAM BROWN:  Yes.

      19             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  And the concern is, is

      20      that students are not gonna take advantage of that

      21      program if they're not graduating, and that's going

      22      to continue to lead, as my colleague

      23      Senator Gallivan stated, into a cycle of poverty of

      24      continuing all over again and all over again.

      25             And I don't want to dwell on the money







                                                                  59
       1      factor, because I'm sure we'll have talks, not only

       2      by the end of this year and throughout the next

       3      legislative session, but the concern is the dollars

       4      getting from the top to the bottom of where it needs

       5      to get, with regards to the teachers and the

       6      students in the classrooms and the after-school

       7      programs.

       8             Those are the things that I want to see.

       9             And, you know, I know it's not a popular

      10      idea, but that's why I actually asked, and had

      11      legislation, to go ahead and let the residents have

      12      a say, or a vote, in the school-district budget just

      13      like everybody else does in the city of Buffalo,

      14      because the fact of the matter is, it's not just the

      15      City of Buffalo's money.

      16             The City of Buffalo itself puts in very

      17      little money into the school-board budget, but the

      18      amount of the money that the State put in comes from

      19      taxpayers all across the state, including Kenmore,

      20      Tonawanda, Hamburg, you know, areas in that realm.

      21             And I think that it's important that we have

      22      a transparency to see exactly where these dollars

      23      are going.

      24             And that's something that I wanted to talk to

      25      you about, not today, but after the fact.







                                                                  60
       1             Getting to the issue of Common Core, what has

       2      the City of Buffalo done to implement this, in the

       3      sense that, it came out roughly three years ago, and

       4      gave the City of Buffalo an opportunity of

       5      information for its teachers and -- and as to how to

       6      teach these programs?

       7             That's question number one.

       8             Question Number 2:

       9             Do you also agree that social studies,

      10      science, and other avenues of education need to be

      11      tested, and not just the language and math?

      12             DR. PAM BROWN:  In answer to your first

      13      question, as to what has been done in the city of

      14      Buffalo to implement the Common Core Learning

      15      Standards, when I arrived in the district in July of

      16      2012, I learned that many opportunities for

      17      professional development had been provided here in

      18      the district for teachers and administrators.

      19             All, or almost all, of those opportunities

      20      were on a voluntary basis; and, so, some educators

      21      had participated, others had not.

      22             I believe the vast majority of educators in

      23      the district had not participated in all of the

      24      modules of the Common Core Learning Standards, even

      25      though they had been offered.







                                                                  61
       1             So this past school year, we tried to be a

       2      little more intentional about reaching out to those

       3      teachers and administrators who had not

       4      participated, along with others who had and

       5      extending their professional development, but

       6      keeping track of what percentage of our educators

       7      had participated in all of the modules.

       8             In order to ensure that all of our leaders

       9      and teachers had participated in some professional

      10      development, I had Superintendents Conference Day.

      11             I actually added one in January of 2013,

      12      which required attendance by all teachers and

      13      administrators for Common Core professional

      14      development.

      15             I instituted this year two

      16      Superintendents Conference Days before the year

      17      started, so that we could engage all of the staff.

      18             So, some of the professional development has

      19      been voluntary, some of it has been mandatory.

      20             We've partnered with American Institutes for

      21      Research.

      22             They're continuing to do professional

      23      development.

      24             And the Offices of School Leadership that

      25      I referred to you -- referred to earlier, will be







                                                                  62
       1      charged with continuing to provide in-depth PD to

       2      the schools that they serve, through coaches, and

       3      through the supervising principals and chiefs of

       4      school leadership.

       5             So it's going to be a continuing process.

       6             In addition, when I arrived, there were not

       7      Common Core-aligned curriculum materials available

       8      to the students, so this past year we adopted a new

       9      English-language arts textbook series for grades

      10      K through 6, a series that is aligned to the

      11      Common Core, including eResources.

      12             We are using now the math modules provided by

      13      the State Education Department; the core-knowledge

      14      curriculum of early childhood education.

      15             So we're seeking every opportunity to improve

      16      our instruction, make sure it's Common Core-aligned,

      17      make sure it's data-driven, and to give our students

      18      access to the curriculum materials and tools that

      19      they need in order to improve their performance.

      20             Your second question had to do with including

      21      science and social studies in the testing program.

      22             I would -- I certainly think that I would

      23      support that.

      24             My recommendation would be to phase those in,

      25      to give districts an opportunity over the next







                                                                  63
       1      couple of years to fully integrate the Common Core

       2      Standards into English-language arts and math, while

       3      also working to do so in science and social studies,

       4      and then to possibly start the testing program in

       5      science and/or social studies a couple of years from

       6      this point in time, so that we can have that phased

       7      in.

       8             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Now, what are you

       9      hearing, or what's being told to you, whether it's

      10      from your principals, whether it's from other

      11      teachers that you may know, as to what the

      12      problem -- what the problems may be?

      13             Is it that they do not have the materials

      14      that allow them to try to implement these on the

      15      kids?

      16             Is it that too much time is spent on the

      17      core-standards testing rather than testing in a

      18      cumulative roundabout way?

      19             Is it that -- uh, you know, they didn't have

      20      the "fill in the circles" in kindergarten through

      21      fourth grade?

      22             I mean, most kids can't even color in between

      23      the lines, and they gotta -- they gotta --

      24             You know, is it things like that on the test?

      25             Is it things along the lines of, of how does







                                                                  64
       1      a child write a coherent paragraph in a

       2      Common Core Standard testing that's in seventh

       3      grade, when they're never, you know, told to do that

       4      before?

       5             I mean, what are the problems?

       6             And I know you may have stressed on this

       7      before I got here, I know you were talking, but,

       8      what do you see are the problems?

       9             I mean, I think everybody agrees that, you

      10      know, there's some testing that needs to be done.

      11             The question is:

      12             How much testing?

      13             Is the testing being done right?

      14             And what do we need to do to move it forward?

      15             So what are you hearing with regards to your

      16      faculty and your people that you know?

      17             DR. PAM BROWN:  Well, certainly, I'm hearing

      18      that it's clear that the bar has been raised; that

      19      the curriculum must be more rigorous, and that the

      20      standards that are in the Common Core are more

      21      rigorous standards.

      22             So I'm hearing that, for example, children

      23      who are in fourth grade who took the Common Core

      24      tests, that the teachers saw that there were skills

      25      there that, traditionally, had been taught in







                                                                  65
       1      fifth grade, or even sixth grade.

       2             So there's no question that the standards are

       3      more rigorous.

       4             However, we also understand that that has to

       5      be the case if we're going to make sure that every

       6      child is graduating college and career-ready.

       7             I also learned that not every child in the

       8      district had a textbook that they could take home

       9      with them, so that they could study and prepare for

      10      tests, or just brush up on the lesson that would be

      11      taught the next day, or just for independent reading

      12      at home, which is so important.

      13             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Let me stop you there.

      14             Why would they not have a textbook?

      15             DR. PAM BROWN:  I'm not certain, but we have

      16      worked to alleviate that situation, and that's why

      17      we adopted the new English-language arts series,

      18      that's why we have adopted the math modules, so that

      19      we are certain that children have access to the

      20      learning tools that they need.

      21             And I would go back to what I said earlier;

      22      there's -- you know, we have children who are

      23      several years behind -- who are already several

      24      years behind in their academic performance, so now

      25      the bar is raised so that they must perform at a







                                                                  66
       1      higher level.

       2             Well, that puts them farther behind.

       3             So, certainly, we know that the results that

       4      we got on our state test this year were not

       5      acceptable, but now I believe that we're in a better

       6      position, now that we have provided professional

       7      development for our teachers and administrators, and

       8      we'll continue to do so.

       9             We're putting the tools in the hands of the

      10      students and teachers to help them to be even more

      11      effective with instruction, and we do expect to see

      12      better results.

      13             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  And besides being told

      14      the results, are you being told, like, problems in

      15      certain areas?

      16             Are parents being told?

      17             I mean, I know a lot of information is going

      18      into some national registry.

      19             I have legislation out there, protecting, you

      20      know -- you know, a child's personal information,

      21      which I think is, you know, ridiculous you'd

      22      actually have to do legislation to do that.

      23             But are you actually being told; or is it

      24      just this information being put in a registry, and

      25      that's it?







                                                                  67
       1             DR. PAM BROWN:  Well, we are told that there

       2      is certain information that will be available to the

       3      public.

       4             We have not been required to put that

       5      information -- well, we do input certain data

       6      through our accountability office.

       7             We do provide information to parents on a new

       8      parent portal that we have, so that they're able to

       9      track their student's test scores, as well as

      10      grades, and disciplinary data, as well as

      11      attendance, on a daily basis.

      12             So, we're hoping that that increased access

      13      to information for parents will be helpful, and help

      14      them to monitor their student's progress and promote

      15      their success.

      16             But -- so, that's where we are at this point.

      17             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Okay.

      18             Thank you, Dr. Brown.

      19             I'll pass it over to my other colleagues.

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Dr. Brown, just one

      21      question.

      22             You were talking before about SIG grants and

      23      funding.

      24             DR. PAM BROWN:  Yes.

      25             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I just want to make sure







                                                                  68
       1      I understand, and, certainly, I can check this

       2      independently, but, is the lack of continuity in

       3      funding based on performance by the district, or, a

       4      lack of funding because there's no more SIG grants?

       5             DR. PAM BROWN:  It's my understanding that

       6      the school-improvement grants are available to us

       7      for a particular period of time, and, that,

       8      I believe, has been about a three-year period.

       9             There is another type of grant that is,

      10      I think, a school-innovation grant, that only lasts

      11      for two years.

      12             So when the term for each one of those grants

      13      runs out, that funding is gone.

      14             And so the point I was making earlier was

      15      that, certainly, among those four schools that are

      16      no longer receiving school-improvement grant funding

      17      as of this year, several of those schools were

      18      making marked progress, and we certainly know that

      19      there's some specific strategies that were being

      20      used in those schools that were being effective.

      21             And, so, we were able to provide some

      22      additional support for those schools, but nowhere

      23      near the level of funding that they had been

      24      receiving through the school-improvement grant.

      25             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you very much.







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       1             DR. PAM BROWN:  Thank you.

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Next we have Linda Hoffman

       3      and Jim Sampson.

       4             Jim Sampson with the Buffalo Board of

       5      Education;

       6             And, Linda, I think we're getting a hat-trick

       7      with you today; you have Erie 2, Chautauqua, and

       8      Cattaraugus.

       9             LINDA HOFFMAN:  BOCES, and I'm also area

      10      director for New York State School Boards

      11      Association, representing Erie, Niagara, Orleans,

      12      Genesee, and Wyoming counties.

      13             And among my responsibilities on my BOCES and

      14      on my NYSSBA, and all the rest of the things I do,

      15      I represent school districts that are rural,

      16      suburban, small cities, and even Buffalo, as my

      17      NYSSBA role.

      18             I'm going to go kind of off script here a

      19      little bit, because --

      20             JIM SAMPSON:  Who starts?

      21             LINDA HOFFMAN:  I guess I'm going to start,

      22      because I'm a lady, I -- ladies go first.

      23             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  That's the house rule.

      24                  [Laughter.]

      25             LINDA HOFFMAN:  I've been a school-board







                                                                  70
       1      member, as you can see, for -- since 1981.

       2             I've seen reforms come from

       3      Commissioner Ambach, Sobol, Mills, Steiner, and

       4      King, and through all of this, I've known everybody

       5      is concerned about testing.

       6             We've always had testing.

       7             We've had testing -- high-stakes testing for

       8      kids, in terms of what they do personally on their

       9      own grade work, in order to graduate, in order to

      10      move on to the next class, in order to do that.

      11             And then we moved into even higher-stakes

      12      testing for school districts and schools when we

      13      went to NCLB, and, NCLB is not going to go away.

      14             We still are going to be required to do

      15      testing in third through eighth grades, and I don't

      16      see any stop to that because I don't see any hope of

      17      anything happening in Washington to change the

      18      Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

      19             So the testing is not going to go away, but

      20      now we have decided that we're going to go to

      21      Common Core testing, and, we never had protests

      22      about the tests before.

      23             Teachers were part of the high-stakes

      24      testing.

      25             People didn't protest the tests that we had







                                                                  71
       1      under NCLB, even though they're rigorous.

       2             And, I don't know whether it's because

       3      they're locally developed then; the standards were

       4      locally developed, and now we're going to national

       5      standards and people are fearful of that.

       6             People are fearful of a large corporation

       7      being in charge of the tests instead of the Board of

       8      Regents and State Ed.

       9             And I think that there has not been enough

      10      rollout to parents especially, about the kinds of

      11      tests that their children are getting.

      12             We used to know, you know, it was 100 points

      13      on the test.

      14             You got 20 points from your essay, you got

      15      20 points from your two small essays.

      16             You got -- you know, parents and students and

      17      teachers knew what was expected of them, and it has

      18      changed so rapidly that many people have been

      19      feeling left out, left behind.

      20             And I think that 3012-c is -- was the

      21      response that was necessary to get the waiver from

      22      some of the NCLB requirements, and I understand why

      23      it was done, and I understand the time frames in

      24      which it had to happen.

      25             Unfortunately, because it was in such a







                                                                  72
       1      compressed time frame -- uhm, how shall I say it? --

       2      I won't say mistakes were made, but I would say

       3      that, uhm, it left out some periods that might have

       4      brought more thoughtful reflection on the

       5      implications of the law.

       6             We can't do anything about NCLB, but you

       7      gentlemen can do something about 3012-c.

       8             I don't know if you will with this, but we're

       9      asking about assessing our progress, and part of our

      10      progress is dependent on that law.

      11             So, I also have some questions about PARCC.

      12             It's in my written statement, but I will talk

      13      from a member of a rural community.

      14             I live in Springville, New York.

      15             It's 25 miles from here.

      16             I have no cable.

      17             I have no high-speed, unless I pay $250 a

      18      month to Verizon for a 4G connection.

      19             Many of our students in our rural areas don't

      20      have computers.

      21             We have students in Springville who come and

      22      sit in the parking lot so that they can connect to

      23      the school's Wi-Fi.

      24             They don't have it at home.

      25             And we talk about going on to the next step







                                                                  73
       1      of the testing and doing it on computer.

       2             I have grave concerns about that; about the

       3      district's capabilities of doing that, and I have

       4      grave concerns about the pedagogy.

       5             I have concerns that our teachers are going

       6      to be looking at third-, fourth-, fifth-, and

       7      sixth-graders who will have to do essays on a

       8      computer, who will have to move things, objects --

       9      because I haven't quite seen it yet -- but,

      10      supposedly, move objects on the math sections, who

      11      do not have that knowledge of how to do it.

      12             They don't have the understanding of how to

      13      do these things.

      14             They know how to write, "See you later",

      15      "CUL8er," you know, with an "R", but they don't know

      16      how to write essays on the computer.

      17             They don't know how to do those things.

      18             They're capable of filling in the dots,

      19      because they've been doing that for quite a while,

      20      but the new capabilities on the PARCC testing,

      21      I think are going to be -- are gonna have to be

      22      very, very carefully looked at.

      23             And that districts, students, teachers, and

      24      parents need to be considered and talked to and

      25      listened to about influencing those -- that next







                                                                  74
       1      level of testing.

       2             I will also piggyback on some of the things

       3      that have been said about BOCES and career and tech

       4      education.

       5             So, I abhor vacuums, and when we have our

       6      BOCES education, we have students who come to us,

       7      for junior and senior year, for half a day, and

       8      spend up from -- anywhere from 15 minutes to half an

       9      hour each way on the bus from their home district to

      10      the BOCES centers.

      11             And that's here.

      12             It's worse at the BOCES centers in the

      13      North Country and other places where you have

      14      greater geographic distances.

      15             But they are -- and -- and we are pushing in,

      16      which is appropriate, English and science and math

      17      into those modules that they take; and they're

      18      taking their exams and they're doing very well, but

      19      they would do so much better if we had a full-day

      20      program.

      21             And that's in the legislation.

      22             They would do so much better if they could go

      23      for four years, or they could elect to do a

      24      four-year program, a half day for two years, and

      25      then full day for the next two years.







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       1             We're talking about career.

       2             I mean, we say "college- and career-ready"?

       3             In order to be career-ready, we have to

       4      really look at our career and technical education,

       5      like the Regent Bennett said, and do some real

       6      refurbishing of it, and look at what we need to do

       7      for our students.

       8             Because that's where I'm at:

       9             I've been an advocate for students for 31

      10      years.

      11             Thank you.

      12             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you.

      13             Mr. Sampson.

      14             JIM SAMPSON:  Yes, thank you.

      15             Welcome to Buffalo, and this beautiful

      16      chamber, and I hope you got a chance to enjoy the

      17      city.

      18             I was elected to the school board in May --

      19      Buffalo School Board in May as a "reform" candidate.

      20             I don't know what that means.

      21             And I've been continually identified as a

      22      "reform" member of the Buffalo Board of Education.

      23             But let me give you just a real quick

      24      background about myself -- not intended to be a job

      25      interview -- but, I've had the opportunity to run







                                                                  76
       1      three large child-welfare agencies: one here in

       2      Buffalo Gateway-Longview, and then two in Wisconsin;

       3             And I was also vice president of a

       4      health-care system in Wisconsin specializing on

       5      serving kids.

       6             Also, I spent the beginning of my career in

       7      corrections, and I think I've had the opportunities

       8      through my professional life to see what happens to

       9      children and adults who don't have access to

      10      high-quality, relevant, and germane educational

      11      opportunities.

      12             I don't remember talking to any inmate in a

      13      prison in Wisconsin that graduated from high school.

      14             Probably the one common denominator of kids

      15      in foster care is they frequently come from families

      16      whose parents don't have a high school education or

      17      have not graduated from high school.

      18             I retired from Gateway not too long ago, but,

      19      three years ago, I had the opportunity of serving as

      20      the first president from -- for Buffalo Reform Ed,

      21      at the request of Katie Campos who helped found that

      22      organization, and also was its first

      23      executive director.

      24             So, I have some sense of maybe what reform

      25      is, but, from my perspective, reform is not







                                                                  77
       1      necessarily charter schools, it's not necessarily

       2      vouchers.

       3             What it is, is, how we learn to focus on what

       4      happens in the classroom, day in and day out.

       5             I would also suggest that poverty may be an

       6      indicator of success, but adults use that as an

       7      excuse so we don't have to try and be held

       8      accountable.

       9             I don't know of any greater pathway out of

      10      poverty than a high-quality education, and, that's

      11      our responsibility as a community and as adults, and

      12      I think as a board of education.

      13             I would say about the Common Core Standards,

      14      that I think New York State is to be commended for

      15      being the second in the nation, right behind

      16      Kentucky, in advancing the Common Core Standards as

      17      a new way of learning; and, in fact, Regent Bennett

      18      mentioned the word "reform."

      19             There probably is no greater reform that's on

      20      our doorstep in New York State than the

      21      Common Core Standards, and, hopefully, how it will

      22      reinvent the kind of work we do in every school in

      23      the state.

      24             I think it's important that, my kids, who I'm

      25      not going to say how old they are, but all the kids







                                                                  78
       1      who are entering school now are entering a much,

       2      much different world than the world that I entered

       3      when I left high school and college, and that's

       4      changing every day.

       5             And at the same time, much of what we do in

       6      an educational structure hasn't changed all that

       7      much since I was in high school.

       8             This is the one opportunity we have, I think,

       9      to really dramatically change that.

      10             To give you a little bit of background, yes,

      11      graduation rates in Buffalo may have gone up, we

      12      don't know for a fact, but we do know one piece of

      13      data that's very, very critical:

      14             If 50 percent of the kids we had last year,

      15      maybe 3,000 kids eligible to graduate, who entered

      16      the freshman year four years previous, if 50 percent

      17      graduated, that means we had about 1500 kids

      18      eligible to go to college.

      19             Within that number, 10 percent were college-

      20      or career-ready, which means we're having a really

      21      bad return on our investment.

      22             And, I think the Common Core Standards is

      23      going to be directed at helping change that.

      24             This becomes particularly important for

      25      Buffalo.







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       1             I always get disoriented when I'm in these

       2      chambers, of where Main Street is.

       3             If you go to Main Street, wherever it may be,

       4      and look at the medical corridor, we're expecting to

       5      have over 10,000 advanced manufacturing jobs there

       6      within the next few years.

       7             This district is not equipping kids to either

       8      go to college or to assume a job in that

       9      advanced-manufacturing capability.

      10             Close to 50 percent of the kids who leave

      11      Buffalo and go to Erie Community College have to

      12      take remedial courses, and from our perspective,

      13      that's unacceptable.

      14             So what I would suggest is that, for all the

      15      criticisms the Common Core Standards is receiving,

      16      and I appreciate the genesis for that, and the

      17      concern for that, I think it represents an

      18      incredible opportunity for the kids of this

      19      community, whether they've been in City Honors, or

      20      whether they're going to Riverside, or whether

      21      they're going to East High School, and I see the

      22      principal for Lafayette, or, Lafayette High School,

      23      I think it offers a great opportunity.

      24             I am very, very concerned that the district

      25      does not have the capacity or the resources to







                                                                  80
       1      provide the kind of training and support for

       2      teachers and principals to carry this out, because

       3      that is where the reality is.

       4             And I think Dr. Bennett mentioned that, that

       5      without that kind of support, and without that kind

       6      of staff development, we're going to have an uphill

       7      struggle in implementing the Common Core Standards

       8      here in the city.

       9             So, thank you.

      10             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  I have no questions.

      11             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  No questions.

      12             LINDA HOFFMAN:  Wow, no questions.

      13             Really?

      14             Okay.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You're not getting off

      16      that easy.

      17             Linda, to your point, I just wanted to make a

      18      comment.

      19             We -- our colleagues have taken a very hard

      20      look at the PARCC issue and the assessments, and the

      21      computer-based testing.

      22             Even if we had the money and we could

      23      distribute it, I'm not sure it would work --

      24             LINDA HOFFMAN:  Right.

      25             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  -- because of exactly the







                                                                  81
       1      issues that you raised.

       2             The Senate passed legislation, that if the

       3      State thinks it's a good idea, that they have to pay

       4      for it.

       5             So, it's kind of the gist of what it was.

       6             It's a -- let's put it this way:

       7             In your 32 years being on the school boards?

       8             LINDA HOFFMAN:  Yes.

       9             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  The legislation, make sure

      10      that it's a fully funded mandate.

      11             LINDA HOFFMAN:  That would be very, very

      12      nice.

      13             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Exceedingly rare, perhaps,

      14      as well.

      15             But, Jim, just one quick question:

      16             If you were particularly coming in as someone

      17      with a wealth of experience, but a new member to the

      18      board, if you were to mark the Buffalo School

      19      District for their implementation of Common Core,

      20      for the changes that are coming now, on a scale of

      21      1 to 10, 10 being the highest --

      22             JIM SAMPSON:  Where is it today?

      23             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I'm sorry?

      24             JIM SAMPSON:  What is the end of the

      25      question, excuse me?







                                                                  82
       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Yeah, how would you grade

       2      the district, based on what you've seen as someone

       3      who has very broad background but newly elected to

       4      the board?

       5             JIM SAMPSON:  On a score of 1 to 10?

       6             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Yes, sir.

       7             JIM SAMPSON:  Probably below 5.

       8             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay.

       9             Senator Ranzenhofer.

      10             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Thank you both for

      11      coming here today and testifying.

      12             And a question for you, Jim.

      13             You had mentioned that you feel very

      14      strongly, and I think this has been the common

      15      theme, that the Common Core Standards are very good,

      16      but your concern is, right now, that at the

      17      principal level and the teacher, it's not being

      18      implemented in the schools.

      19             The program is good, but it's not getting

      20      into the classroom to have its effect, if

      21      I understood you correctly.

      22             What needs to be done in order to make sure

      23      that these standards, which everybody has said are

      24      good and more rigorous, that they actually get into

      25      the schools so the kids benefit from this more







                                                                  83
       1      rigorous and thorough curriculum?

       2             JIM SAMPSON:  I think that, you know,

       3      I mentioned that we do much the same things we did

       4      when I was in high school, and we probably do much

       5      the same things we've done for the past 100 years in

       6      public education, particularly in urban districts.

       7             I think we're organized around, and people

       8      will disagree with this, but as you look at

       9      everything that we do in Buffalo, we're organized

      10      around central office, and that's where the

      11      resources are.

      12             I think we ought to be organized around the

      13      school, and we should put as much in the way of

      14      resources into each one of our 57 schools.

      15             We've got some wonderful principals, and

      16      I think if they had more access to resources, with

      17      support from central office, not direction from

      18      central office, with the understanding -- and they

      19      know this, as do teachers -- that the real

      20      difference is going to take place in what happens

      21      between the child/the student, and the teacher and

      22      families, and I think with the right kind of

      23      support; in other words, almost flipping the

      24      district upside down.

      25             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  So are you saying,







                                                                  84
       1      then, that you believe the resources are sufficient,

       2      but, the allocation, it being top-heavy as opposed

       3      to ground up?

       4             JIM SAMPSON:  Oh, I -- as a board member and

       5      elected official, I would be hard-pressed to ever

       6      ask the State for more money, to Senator Gallivan's

       7      point.

       8             I mean, if a school is getting a student --

       9      a school-improvement grant, at the end of that

      10      grant, there's been no discernible progress in

      11      turning that school around, I think it's -- how can

      12      we ask for more money?

      13             You know, what we ought to be doing is

      14      saying, Why isn't that school turning it around?

      15             And, perhaps, closing it and opening it as a

      16      different kind of school.

      17             I think there's plenty of resources in this

      18      district, if used wisely, could accomplish the job.

      19             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  So when you open as a

      20      new school, I mean, how does that change the dynamic

      21      if you just have a different coat of paint and a

      22      different label?

      23             JIM SAMPSON:  Well, I think what you -- you

      24      know, Sam Radford is in the audience, and he's been

      25      a driving choice behind the parental-choice plan,







                                                                  85
       1      and I think that's a good plan.

       2             I think it -- I'm glad that the State's

       3      holding us accountable to our responsibility for

       4      parental choice, but I also think it's an

       5      opportunity for this district to implement reforms

       6      way beyond what the State is requiring on the short

       7      term.

       8             For example, within that plan, we're going to

       9      be looking at least two, perhaps even more schools,

      10      that are non-performing, which means the students in

      11      that school are in non-performing schools, of

      12      actually closing it, and opening it as a

      13      district-sponsored charter school.

      14             That changes the governance of the school, it

      15      changes where the resources are, it changes the

      16      leadership, and it changes the accountability.

      17             I'm also a trustee and a founding member of a

      18      charter school, and I really appreciate the creative

      19      attention between what SED requires, and New York

      20      has got one of the best enabling legislations for

      21      charter schools, and knowing that, if parents aren't

      22      satisfied, they'll go someplace else, and they'll

      23      have that opportunity.

      24             So I think, through creative thinking,

      25      creative discussion-making, engagement of critical







                                                                  86
       1      stakeholders, especially families and parents, we

       2      can find ways to change the culture in schools.

       3             And I don't want to dismiss at all, and I'm

       4      not intending to do that, we don't listen enough to

       5      principals and teachers about how we can change the

       6      culture of a school.

       7             We direct them of what it's going to be.

       8             And we should -- it should to be the

       9      opposite; we should be asking them, "What needs to

      10      be done for you to be able to do your job?"

      11             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Thank you very much.

      12             LINDA HOFFMAN:  And I would agree with that,

      13      and many suburban and rural schools also, that are

      14      failing, or our school districts; are grades are

      15      failing, and our children that are failing.

      16             That we need to be talking to the principals

      17      and the teachers, and saying, "What do you need?"

      18             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Thanks.

      19             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you very much.

      20             JIM SAMPSON:  Thanks.

      21             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Next we have, and I'm sure

      22      I'm going to botch this somehow, but I know he's

      23      been with us before at at least one hearing:

      24             Dan Drmacich, principal, retired teacher,

      25      and, Naomi Cerre, principal of Lafayette High







                                                                  87
       1      School.

       2             You look like you're coming in from opposing

       3      corners here.

       4                  [Laughter.]

       5             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I would thank everyone

       6      again for their patience while these folks are

       7      joining us, and just would remind everyone,

       8      summarizing, because I know, Dan, you have very

       9      extensive testimony.

      10             A concise summary is hugely helpful, and we

      11      will continue the house rule, that, ladies first.

      12             Naomi.

      13             NAOMI CERRE:  Good afternoon.

      14             First of all, I want to say that I'm

      15      extremely happy to be a principal in the

      16      Buffalo schools, as well as the principal of

      17      Lafayette High School, which is the pride of the

      18      west side.

      19             I'm here today to first say, as I was

      20      listening to you, the many conversations regarding,

      21      and testimonies regarding, our situation with our

      22      students.

      23             Each student deserves a high-quality

      24      education no matter of their race, their religion,

      25      or their socioeconomic status.







                                                                  88
       1             The issue is, is that it cannot be a

       2      one-size-fits-all approach onto education, because

       3      that has never really worked, and never will.

       4             The best approach for a better outcome for

       5      students is a child-centered education customized to

       6      students with appropriate resources and support for

       7      educators.

       8             Lafayette, the demographics, as you well

       9      know, 70 percent is ESL, 45 different languages,

      10      over 30 different countries are represented, and the

      11      native tongue for my students is varied and very

      12      complex.

      13             Students and their families have arrived in

      14      Buffalo seeking refuge.

      15             Many come from war-torn locations and have

      16      seen various horrors as young people.

      17             Despite the limitations, they have navigated

      18      the schools, the community, language, and different

      19      customs, and they have pursued educational goals

      20      with humility.

      21             You have read and have seen many versions

      22      from the media that describe Lafayette as a failing

      23      school.

      24             We are a priority school, not a failing

      25      school.







                                                                  89
       1             These scores are not a reflection of the

       2      learning and quality of teaching happening in the

       3      school.

       4             Intervention for ESL support, it is just not

       5      stand-alone quality instruction.

       6             You must have customized supports to support

       7      ESL students, especially as it relates to a

       8      literacy-filled environment.

       9             The question that should be raised is:

      10             Are the students being failed at Lafayette?

      11             Four of six of the failing high schools in

      12      Buffalo have the highest concentration of

      13      non-English speakers, and that would mean if there

      14      was more customized supports in those schools and

      15      moving in a direction to also teach gen-ed teachers

      16      how to really work well and support our ESL

      17      population, there might be a significant increase in

      18      our graduation rate, as well as, our dropout rate

      19      would also reduce.

      20             Many students are SIFE students; and that is,

      21      students who have interrupted or no formal

      22      education.

      23             They have arrived at this country -- in this

      24      country with either no education, or they've had an

      25      informal or interrupted education; and, therefore,







                                                                  90
       1      indeed, are struggling to navigate the system.

       2             Language fluency takes five to seven years,

       3      so we are requiring that our ESL students complete

       4      in four years.

       5             They need a -- at least, minimally, a year,

       6      if not more, of English immersion to transition into

       7      our high schools.

       8             Despite the language navigation, students are

       9      expected again to meet graduation requirements.

      10             Now, I want to say this is not typical just

      11      to Buffalo, this is not typical just to

      12      New York State.

      13             It is a national crisis, that we are not

      14      receiving enough supports and resources in relation

      15      to ESL coaches, ESL coordinators, as well as

      16      interpreters.

      17             I have 45 different languages and 2 standing

      18      interpreters at this time, even though we are moving

      19      towards hiring additional interpreters.

      20             There's a need for that level of support.

      21             Another thing that I want to mention, as it

      22      relates to all children, if we're talking about

      23      addressing students in relationship to poverty, many

      24      do not come from a language-rich environment; so,

      25      therefore, literacy is an issue.







                                                                  91
       1             If we do not, and I repeat, "if we do not"

       2      take a diagnostic, prescriptive approach to

       3      addressing reading and writing with our students,

       4      how many programs or extended day or learning pieces

       5      that the district puts out, or that the state puts

       6      out for us, indeed, we need to make sure that

       7      students, we know where they are in their levels,

       8      and how to prescriptively work with students and

       9      develop a treatment plan.

      10             If you have high levels of students that have

      11      reading difficulties or literacy difficulties,

      12      having an extended program can be wonderful, but if

      13      it's not addressing, specifically, those issues

      14      related to literacy in a more prescriptive

      15      diagnostic approach, then we are not moving in the

      16      direction that we should.

      17             And that's a conversation that must be had by

      18      all educators and by all politicians and by

      19      communities, that, indeed, we are looking at

      20      programs, and, yes, we are looking a standards, but

      21      are we addressing students' levels in a more

      22      diagnostic way, in a more prescriptive way?

      23             And that's a question that really has to be

      24      looked at.

      25             I added two additional reading teachers to my







                                                                  92
       1      budget, because I wanted to make sure that all of my

       2      students are tested at their levels.

       3             Do note, that when they come in, that they

       4      are not tested in their native language, and that is

       5      something that also needs to be done.

       6             Every student should have an opportunity to

       7      be tested in their native language to see if,

       8      number one, that they not only speak, but they write

       9      and read in the language that they come forth from

      10      their native country.

      11             So, clearly, when we have students that walk

      12      into our school buildings who need an abundance of

      13      resources, we are not a failing school; we are a

      14      priority school.

      15             And "priority school" means exactly that;

      16      that, indeed, we should have priority saturation of

      17      resources and priority saturation of capacity and

      18      building capacity.

      19             And a lot of this has been due to the fact

      20      that there hasn't been enough research and data that

      21      has been accepted by our educators regarding what

      22      our needs are for ESL students.

      23             So at this time, I want to say to you that we

      24      do need to increase those customized supports, not

      25      just in the area of ESL supports, but in literacy







                                                                  93
       1      supports; a more diagnostic, prescriptive approach.

       2             And we're asking that, that that's really

       3      formally looked at on all levels, so that the value

       4      of having immigrants come to the west side is a

       5      fantastic thing.

       6             When I walk down the streets of Grant Street

       7      and I walk into my school and I hear 45 different

       8      languages, I'm excited about the opportunities that

       9      Buffalo could possibly have if we really invested in

      10      this particular population.

      11             They are an asset; they come in ready to

      12      work.

      13             And I just want to thank you for listening,

      14      and for taking the opportunity to hear my testimony.

      15             Thank you.

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Naomi, you must be a lot

      17      of fun to work with.

      18             I wouldn't want to get in trouble and have to

      19      go to the principal's office.

      20                  [Laughter.]

      21             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Dan, go ahead, please.

      22             DAN DRMACICH:  Thank you.

      23             My name is Dan Drmacich.

      24             I'm a retired principal from Rochester City

      25      School District, where I was the principal for







                                                                  94
       1      23 years.

       2             Prior to that, I taught for 20 years within

       3      the system.

       4             I think it's important to note that

       5      School Without Walls is a member of the

       6      New York State Performance Standards Consortium,

       7      which probably some of you haven't heard of, but

       8      it's been approved over the past almost 20 years by

       9      the New York State Regents, in terms of having more

      10      flexibility with the curriculum, more flexibility

      11      with assessment.

      12             In fact, the only Regents or Common Core

      13      exams that our students would take to be the ELA.

      14             But what's interesting about it, if you do

      15      the research, and I've noted this on my testimony

      16      that you have a copy of, is that students from

      17      consortium schools, despite the fact that they have

      18      more special-ed students, more ESL students, that

      19      they have more students who are behavioral issues at

      20      times, they perform much better.

      21             In fact, it almost replicates the research

      22      that was done back in the 1940s when the

      23      8-year study was done on progressive schools that

      24      were across the country in the '20s, 30s, and

      25      '40s under John Dewey.







                                                                  95
       1             And what they did was called the

       2      "8-year study," to find out how graduates of

       3      progressive schools would do in comparison to

       4      graduates of traditional high schools.

       5             And they had over 300 colleges involved, over

       6      100 schools were involved, and they found out that

       7      the kids of progressive schools, the graduates who

       8      were accepted into college on no basis other than

       9      teacher and principal recommendations, that these

      10      kids performed as well as or better than students

      11      from traditional schools.

      12             The other variable about this, which is very

      13      interesting, is that those kids scored much higher

      14      in citizenship; that they're more likely to vote,

      15      that they were more likely to participate in

      16      community activities, in terms of changing things in

      17      their neighborhoods.

      18             That type of thing has been replicated by the

      19      consortium schools in New York State.

      20             So I encourage to you take a look at that in

      21      terms of a more genuine, authentic model of

      22      education reform.

      23             I'm going say a few things about the reform

      24      model in New York State, that I hope it's not too

      25      insulting, but I'm going to be direct and blunt.







                                                                  96
       1             I think it's a complete disaster, and the

       2      reason I say this is -- well, as I said in my

       3      testimony, it's on wrong track, headed in the wrong

       4      direction, on the wrong train.

       5             And what I'd like to say about this is that,

       6      if I were an enemy of New York State, or an enemy of

       7      this country, and I wanted to disrupt the education

       8      system, I can't think of a better way to do it than

       9      what our reformers in New York State and in this

      10      country have done.

      11             Andrew Cuomo, Arne Duncan, our Board of

      12      Regents, our Commissioner, are all ignoring the

      13      research in terms of what research says makes an

      14      effective education for kids.

      15             They don't deal at all with what motivates

      16      kids to take a more effective, engaging approach

      17      into education.

      18             They ignore what motivates teachers to teach

      19      more effectively, to be more creative, more

      20      competent, and ignores all the research in terms of

      21      what makes an effective humanistic organization that

      22      adults and kids can thrive in.

      23             It is not paid any attention to.

      24             What we end up with is reformers, including

      25      our Governor, our Education Commissioner, and also







                                                                  97
       1      the corporate leaders of Gates, Broede [ph.], and

       2      Walton, is to turn our students into products.

       3             All they're interested in is test scores.

       4             If you look at what's tested, there's nothing

       5      in there that really asks a kid to apply their

       6      learning to the real world.

       7             That's the real test, and nothing is done,

       8      because it's cheaper to do it this way.

       9             So our kids are basically -- they basically

      10      become products.

      11             Teachers and principals are being turned into

      12      technicians as opposed to -- who can produce high

      13      test scores, as opposed to really working on what

      14      engages kids.

      15             I want to make one point here that's kind of

      16      interesting; is that there's a socioeconomic

      17      principle called "Campbell's Law."

      18             Campbell's Law says that whenever you reduce

      19      a socioeconomic goal in a country, a city, a state,

      20      whatever it might be, into a number, corruption and

      21      perversion of the process to get you there is

      22      inevitably going to occur.

      23             And that's happened within New York State and

      24      around the country.

      25             All we have now is more "teach to the test";







                                                                  98
       1             ""One size fits all";

       2             Narrow the curriculum for the sake of

       3      disregarding art, music, citizenship, character

       4      development, and student interests;

       5             Focus on test scores rather than the joy of

       6      learning;

       7             Even ignore poverty as a variable that

       8      seriously affects student engagement in learning.

       9             I get insulted every time I hear this,

      10      because I dealt with kids who lived in poverty, for

      11      40 years in the district and, I know poverty affects

      12      them.

      13             It's not only poverty -- we all know about

      14      the heroic examples of kids who exceed poverty, but

      15      those are far and few between in terms of what

      16      happens to the rest.

      17             I think what we look at is that, even if we

      18      look at the graduates of high schools in large

      19      cities, like Buffalo and Rochester, and we find out

      20      that only 14 percent of kids from -- who are

      21      low-income Black and Hispanic students graduate from

      22      college, compared to 54 percent of Caucasian

      23      students.

      24             So, I think what we're at, is that we need to

      25      reevaluate where we're at with this reform movement,







                                                                  99
       1      because it doesn't make much sense to me in terms of

       2      the direction that it's going.

       3             It's ignoring the research.

       4             How can you do that?

       5             I don't understand it.

       6             What I have submitted to you in terms of

       7      testimony, I put in the form of eight myths that

       8      exist within New York State, and pretty much around

       9      the country, in terms of the Common Core and the

      10      efforts, the high-stakes standardized-testing

      11      movement that's gone on, in terms of trying to

      12      reform education, which I refer to as "deform" as

      13      opposed to reform.

      14             But I encourage you to read my testimony and

      15      look at the myths in there.

      16             You heard from the last person who gave

      17      testimony, the school-board member, on charter

      18      schools.

      19             Charter schools, in general, are not

      20      effective.

      21             The research from the CREDO Report, in terms

      22      of Stanford University, proves this.

      23             You know, there's exceptions, there's good

      24      charter schools, but, by and large, they aren't any

      25      better, and most are worse than public schools.







                                                                  100
       1             So you've got to look at the research in

       2      terms of what the research is saying.

       3             I have no idea why New York State pushed for

       4      more charter schools and evaluation of teachers

       5      based upon test scores.

       6             It's both craziness.

       7             It doesn't make any sense.

       8             If you look at the research in terms of

       9      motivation, I mean, look at the popular book

      10      "Drive," by Daniel Pink, it challenges all of this

      11      by thorough research.

      12             So, I could go on and on in this because

      13      I feel so passionate about it, but what I do want to

      14      do, is just take a couple of minutes to --

      15             If I could, two minutes, please?

      16             Okay.

      17             -- is to review the recommendations that

      18      I have for you, and I promise not to read it.

      19             First of all, I think the New York State

      20      Assembly and Senate needs to reestablish its efforts

      21      in terms of creating a war on poverty in

      22      New York State.

      23             You will see much higher test scores, if

      24      you're gonna measure kids by test scores, if you

      25      just focus on poverty, and deal with things like







                                                                  101
       1      medical care and other things, job training, parent

       2      training, early childhood education, incentives for

       3      middle-class suburbs to create sliding-scale housing

       4      developments.

       5             You'll get a much more drastic impact in

       6      terms of increase of student performance if you deal

       7      with that.

       8             Increase legislation to give incentives to

       9      middle-class suburbs to partner with urban schools

      10      to create metropolitan school districts.

      11             If you look at the book "Hope and Despair in

      12      the American City," by Gerald Grant, who is

      13      professor emeritus at Syracuse University, he

      14      compares Syracuse to that of Wake County,

      15      North Carolina, which isn't perfect, but it has a

      16      92 percent parent-approval rating in terms of their

      17      kids' education there, and that's with a district of

      18      150,000 students.

      19             Provide funding to reduce all -- and this one

      20      I'm sure will blow you out of the water -- reduce

      21      all poverty-stricken schools to a student-teacher

      22      ratio of 12:1.

      23             Declare a moratorium on the use of

      24      Common Core and high-stakes testing until it can be

      25      field-tested for five years.







                                                                  102
       1             Require each student to demonstrate their

       2      proficiency different.

       3             Through that -- this is really a new paradigm

       4      if we're going to go to this, but it makes much more

       5      sense.

       6             It's what colleges do in terms of college

       7      dissertations.

       8             Evaluate kids based on a portfolio of all

       9      their work, as opposed to that of a test score,

      10      which are completely unreliable and invalid.

      11             Again, look at the research in terms of what

      12      the research says.

      13             Lastly, providing incentives to school

      14      districts to replicate schools that adhere to the

      15      consortium that I talked about.

      16             Rescind the charter legislation.

      17             Rescind APPR.

      18             Require New York State to shift their role to

      19      more of a helper as opposed to an imposer of

      20      unreasonable unfunded mandates.

      21             Work with the Board of Regents to come up

      22      with four new sets of diplomas.

      23             Come up with a vocational diploma for those

      24      students who -- there's no loss of honor in terms of

      25      being a good electrician, a plumber, a carpenter.







                                                                  103
       1             Why can't we do that?

       2             A new set of graduation requirements for any

       3      district that would want to come up with something,

       4      as long as it's approved by the body.

       5             And, lastly, I know you're not going to like

       6      this, but encourage the resignation of

       7      Commissioner John King.

       8             John King does not support anything that

       9      I just talked about.

      10             Nothing.

      11             In fact, there's so much outrage about this,

      12      in terms of New York State, he recently canceled

      13      four PTA conferences, forums, that were to be held

      14      in New York State.

      15             Is that the spirit of democracy that we want

      16      to model for our kids?

      17             And, lastly, Board of Regents:

      18             I would encourage you to seek legislation

      19      that would require all Board of Regents members to

      20      hold degrees in education and/or psychology, with at

      21      least three years of teaching experience, so that

      22      they can relate more effectively to the teaching

      23      profession.

      24             Thank you.

      25







                                                                  104
       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Dan, that was a little

       2      over two minutes, but there's a lot of material;

       3      there's a wealth of detail in your testimony.

       4             I did have a chance to go through it, and

       5      including the myth and reality.

       6             And, Naomi, I think I'd rather go get in

       7      trouble in your principal's office than him.

       8                  [Laughter.]

       9             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  But, you know, there's a

      10      lot of provocative stuff in there, and we do

      11      appreciate it.

      12             So, Senator Gallivan.

      13             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Naomi, I have one question

      14      about your testimony, and I just may not have heard

      15      it correctly.

      16             You talk about some of the facts and the

      17      challenges that the kids are facing -- the language

      18      challenges of people that are coming into our

      19      melting pot.

      20             But, anyway, written testimony says, "Across

      21      the nation, including a region, lawmakers have not

      22      taken supportive research seriously."

      23             Then I thought I heard you say, but I might

      24      have misunderstood, that there was not any research,

      25      or enough research, in this area.







                                                                  105
       1             Did I hear correctly, or no?

       2             NAOMI CERRE:  I'm saying that districts have

       3      not really looked at the data and the research in a

       4      serious way, to connect with the capacity of

       5      resources, as well as professional development.

       6             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  So there is research out

       7      there regarding --

       8             NAOMI CERRE:  Yes, there is.

       9             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Could you -- if you have

      10      time in your busy day, could you point us to some of

      11      that research, just in follow-up, whether it's my

      12      email or whatever it may be?

      13             NAOMI CERRE:  Absolutely.

      14             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  All right.

      15             NAOMI CERRE:  Absolutely.

      16             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Thank you.

      17             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Yes, good morning; how

      18      are you?

      19             A couple of questions, I want to follow up

      20      from previous testimony.

      21             Did your students get the curriculum and the

      22      books that were needed for the Common Core?

      23             NAOMI CERRE:  Yes, we have our books.

      24             We still do need -- because we are a school

      25      that has so many different languages, there needs to







                                                                  106
       1      be a review of curriculum.

       2             There needs to be review of what kind of

       3      supports need to go on in the classroom in order for

       4      content teachers who do not have a background in

       5      ESL, to actually instruct with ESL strategies.

       6             So, we've been working with the multilingual

       7      ed department, thanks to Dr. Alsace, along with

       8      Johns Hopkins and national experts, but that just

       9      began as of the end of last year, as far as the

      10      intensive kind of professional development and

      11      review of curriculum.

      12             So we're looking at rigor.

      13             We're looking at Bridges for Academic

      14      Success, which is a program that's coming out of --

      15      actually, New York State is supporting it, to

      16      actually work with students and teachers regarding

      17      professional development, as well as delivery of

      18      instruction, because the kind of delivery

      19      instruction for ESL students is quite different than

      20      it would be in a different classroom.

      21             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  But the students that

      22      have a language barrier, how are they able to take

      23      the test?

      24             NAOMI CERRE:  The -- we have, again, some

      25      interpreters, and we do have an opportunity to offer







                                                                  107
       1      students in the classroom what we call "ESL

       2      periods," where they are learning certain levels

       3      English immersion.

       4             Is it intense enough to meet the level of

       5      impact?

       6             The answer would be no.

       7             They need more time.

       8             They need more time.

       9             So, yes, we do have materials.

      10             Yes, we are reviewing more materials that --

      11      within our transformation framework, to address that

      12      piece, but there has to be a district-wide universal

      13      protocol in how we address and provide supports and

      14      curriculum and resources to ESL, as well as

      15      bilingual students.

      16             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  And would you agree --

      17      because it's, you know, just an observation from the

      18      last three speakers:

      19             We had, when I got here, the first speaker

      20      that was, you know, all for Common Core;

      21             We had, the second speaker that I was here

      22      for, somewhere in the middle;

      23             And now we have, you know, it's got to be

      24      done away with.

      25             So there's definitely not continuity.







                                                                  108
       1             I mean, there's questions of how to fix it,

       2      or how to do things, or what have you.

       3             But my question to you, then, is this:

       4             The -- there was talk by the Board of

       5      Education newest member, Jim Sampson, about, you

       6      know, having the ability of having resources in your

       7      school, rather than you having to go through the red

       8      tape to get the resources from city hall.

       9             Do you agree with that?

      10             NAOMI CERRE:  Yes, I do.

      11             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Okay.

      12             What are the problems that you are seeing?

      13             Is it strictly funding?

      14             Is it having somebody listen to you as to

      15      what's needed at Lafayette?

      16             I mean, what are things that you see that are

      17      needed, that are not being attended to by the board?

      18             NAOMI CERRE:  Let me say this --

      19             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  By the administration,

      20      I should say.

      21             NAOMI CERRE:  -- it's not just a district

      22      issue.

      23             It is a trickle-down effect that -- in

      24      regards to supporting ESL students.

      25             So when we're talking about resources, yes,







                                                                  109
       1      funding is definitely a high priority, but the other

       2      piece, is knowing what resources should be in place;

       3      the kinds of resources that should be specific to

       4      each building.

       5             Every building has a different face and a

       6      different culture, and a different tone and tenor;

       7             And, accountability:

       8             When you send out a standard, any kind of

       9      standard, you have to make sure that there's

      10      differentiated -- just like we have differentiated

      11      instruction, there has to be differentiated

      12      accountability from the federal government, to the

      13      state government, to the district, all the way down

      14      to the building level; and all of those have to be

      15      aligned.

      16             We're given the standards to work with, which

      17      is fine, but, you have to have levels of supports

      18      and building capacity, with strengthening teachers,

      19      their ideas, and even views of an ESL child;

      20      diversity training.

      21             Recruitment in HR has to be changed, where

      22      we're not just recruiting internally, but we're

      23      recruiting outside of the district, to meet

      24      bilingual and ESL pieces.

      25             So there has to be a shift in our thinking on







                                                                  110
       1      how we work with schools.

       2             Bennett is different, has different needs,

       3      than Lafayette, and you cannot give me the same

       4      resources that you would at Bennett.

       5             It's just a different -- it's apples and

       6      oranges.

       7             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  There was talk also about

       8      grants that expire after two or three years.

       9             Now, those grants, my understanding, are

      10      supposed to actually be to aid your school, to aid

      11      Bennett, to aid other schools.

      12             NAOMI CERRE:  Correct.

      13             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  The odd thing is, that

      14      the grant money was actually used, in some

      15      circumstances, to hire administrators, rather than

      16      that money going to the schools themselves to

      17      implement the programs that are needed that the

      18      grant was supposed to be used for.

      19             So it was, either, that the money was coming

      20      out of the money that the State was giving for the

      21      education, or the City gave under the budget, but

      22      then it was said, no, it was grant money that was

      23      used so it wasn't any moneys from the State or the

      24      City; it was grant money that was used to hire

      25      additional administrators.







                                                                  111
       1             NAOMI CERRE:  Well, I --

       2             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Now, grant money that's

       3      set up for grant money is supposed to go to your

       4      school or to Bennett or to McKinley or to any of the

       5      other 40 schools to -- plus, to utilize for

       6      implementing the programs in your schools; correct?

       7             NAOMI CERRE:  Well, I can only speak for

       8      Lafayette and East [sic] because we are -- we have

       9      not received SIG funding as of yet, because of

      10      the -- we did not -- the application process was not

      11      fully processed correctly; so, therefore, we lost

      12      that grant funding; and, therefore, Easton and

      13      Lafayette, we were -- we received a mandate from the

      14      New York State Commissioner to move forward with

      15      working with BOCES, which was not a framework, but

      16      it's definitely a positive addition.

      17             But most importantly, wherever we are,

      18      whether it's SIG grant or there's a combination of

      19      SIG grant and district funding, there has to be a

      20      level of understanding of what the needs are for

      21      that building.

      22             So no matter if it's SIG grant, if the

      23      SIG grant comes today, it will leave, and there has

      24      to be a universal protocol on how certain schools

      25      are supported.







                                                                  112
       1             Yes, principals are given a budget to work

       2      with, but, still, there's this formula based on

       3      enrollment versus need, and so when you're working

       4      with the budget, you have to look at the needs of

       5      the school, and the needs of the students, as well

       6      as the teachers.

       7             So, we're talking about a shifting of

       8      thinking on everyone's part.

       9             There's no pointing fingers; it's just a

      10      shift of thinking, and how do we go about doing that

      11      in a transformation process?

      12             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Everybody working

      13      together.

      14             Now, is that working now?

      15             I mean, I know it's just been implemented

      16      with BOCES.

      17             Any idea of how many students are actually

      18      taking advantage of it?

      19             NAOMI CERRE:  From my building, 58 students

      20      are taking advantage of it.

      21             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  And that's similar, Dan,

      22      to what you were talking about, is, you know, not

      23      everybody's going to graduate, but getting them into

      24      plumbing, electrical, you know, things that are

      25      taught at McKinley.







                                                                  113
       1             Out of curiosity, do they still have the

       2      travel program at LaFayette?

       3             They used to have the travel-and-tourism

       4      program.

       5             NAOMI CERRE:  No.

       6             When we were going through this

       7      transformation turnaround process, that is a part of

       8      the transformational framework, so this year is a

       9      planning year to implement firm CTE programs.

      10             And that's aligned with the National Academy

      11      Foundation (NAF).

      12             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  All right.

      13             Thank you, Naomi, and thank you, Dan, for

      14      being here.

      15             NAOMI CERRE:  Thank you.

      16      2:00:18:9

      17             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Two quick comments before

      18      I say "thank you":

      19             Dan, To your point about other venues and

      20      forums not taking place, I think that underscores

      21      the value of what we're trying to do by having

      22      people like you and Naomi, and others similarly

      23      situated, testify before us.

      24             And, Naomi, one of the things that I have

      25      found enlightening, and a tad disconcerting is,







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       1      I don't mind that New York State gets blamed for

       2      things that New York State is actually responsible

       3      for; and that's justifiable, because we take credit

       4      for things that we do well, also.

       5             But, I'm finding that there's a disconnect,

       6      to some extent, between what parents know for sure,

       7      and the role of the federal government.

       8             A lot of the things that we're talking about,

       9      English-language learners, students with

      10      disabilities, when they have to take tests, even if

      11      it's not advisable, they're hamstrung to a degree by

      12      federal regulations that force us to do some of

      13      those things.

      14             So, frankly, I think one of upshots of what

      15      we should be doing collectively, is working more

      16      closely and putting more pressure on our federal

      17      colleagues.

      18             They're a little otherwise engaged right now,

      19      but putting more pressure on them to make some

      20      potential changes.

      21             But thank both, very much.

      22             NAOMI CERRE:  Thank you.

      23             DAN DRMACICH:  One other thing is,

      24      I encourage all of you to read at least a couple

      25      chapters of this book, "A Reign of Error," by







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       1      Diane Ravitch.

       2             A lot of research, a lot of good

       3      recommendations in here.

       4      2:02:11

       5             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  And, thank you.

       6             And our next panel is Deann Nelson,

       7      Carrie Remis, and Eric Mihelbergel.

       8             I'm going to say that one wrong.

       9             I don't mean to botch it, but, Eric, you'll

      10      forgive me in advance.

      11             All right, Eric, you obviously know you're

      12      going third.

      13             ERIC MIHELBERGEL:  I'm sorry?

      14             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You obviously know you're

      15      going third.

      16             ERIC MIHELBERGEL:  Yes.

      17             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  And, again, please do the

      18      best you can to summarize.

      19             We have a lot of people who are still coming,

      20      and I appreciate your patience.

      21             So, Deann why don't we start with you,

      22      please.

      23             DEANN NELSON:  Oh, good, okay.

      24             The devil is in the details, so I'm going to

      25      show you some details.







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       1                  [Inaudible.]

       2             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  You just got reprimanded.

       3             DEANN NELSON:  I want to talk about rule of

       4      law.

       5             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Can you put the

       6      microphone closer to your mouth.

       7             DEANN NELSON:  Yes, I will.

       8             Thank you.

       9             Friedrich Hayek, who is a Nobel Prize-winning

      10      economist, writer, philosopher, wrote "The Road to

      11      Serfdom," said that "Rule of law is the embodiment

      12      of freedom."

      13             It distinguishes a free country from a

      14      country with arbitrary government.

      15             Well, we're here today because rule of law

      16      has been broken in our state and country.

      17             I want to -- there's five of them that I can

      18      discern.

      19             The U.S. Constitution, the Tenth Amendment,

      20      which gives education rights to the states;

      21             20 USC, Section 1232a, which is the

      22      prohibition against the federal government getting

      23      involved in education;

      24             The New York State Constitution, Article 11,

      25      Sections 1 and 2, which the Legislature has







                                                                  117
       1      responsibility for education, and the Legislature

       2      has responsibility for overseeing the Board of

       3      Regents;

       4             New York State Law, Article 35, Section --

       5      Statute 1709, giving boards of education

       6      responsibility for local control;

       7             And the last one, the Family Educational

       8      Rights and Privacy Act, which, up to this time,

       9      considered the privacy of students in our state.

      10             But, the federal government decided they

      11      would change the definitions, and so this no longer

      12      is applicable.

      13             And, so, because we have this grand -- our

      14      grand principle has been trounced, has been broken,

      15      has been violated, the Board of Regents should be

      16      replaced, and the Commissioner of Education should

      17      be replaced.

      18             Now, the second point that I wanted to talk

      19      about was the mathematics program.

      20             Mr. Grisanti asked about textbooks.

      21             Well, in the mathematics program, there are

      22      no textbooks.

      23             There are three questions that we should be

      24      asking about the mathematics program; EngageNY

      25      mathematics:







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       1             One is, what is the research base for this

       2      program?

       3             Number 2:

       4             What is the effect size of this program?

       5             And, Number 3:

       6             Was this program field-tested before it was

       7      imposed on our children?

       8             The first one, I could find no research on

       9      EngageNY mathematics, so, there is no effect size.

      10             "Effect size" is a very important concept.

      11             I'm listed as a parent and a grandparent, but

      12      I also have a doctorate from UB in educational

      13      psychology, and I was a school psychologist, I was

      14      guidance counselor, I taught health.

      15             I am certified as a school-nurse teacher, and

      16      I am certified in elementary.

      17             So, I have a broad background in this.

      18             Effect sizes are so important, and the work

      19      of Dr. John Hattie in 2009 was groundbreaking work

      20      on effect sizes, because you can compare

      21      effect sizes of programs.

      22             He took, and he had 800 meta-analyses.

      23             That means, he took a lot of different

      24      studies.

      25             He had 52,000 studies, in fact.







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       1             And he did -- and he had millions of

       2      students, millions of subjects, that he was looking

       3      at in all of this.

       4             What he determined was, that an effect size

       5      of 0.40 is the hinge.

       6             Anything at this point or above is effective.

       7             It works for all students.

       8             Anything below this works on some students.

       9             And let me just give you an example:

      10             For years, and it's still being used today,

      11      whole-language reading was implemented.

      12             It has an effect size of .06.

      13             That's hardly better than chance.

      14             It doesn't work.

      15             Yet, when children were in that program, they

      16      flowed into special education because the program

      17      was so poor and so weak.

      18             We have Ze'ev Wurman saying that

      19      "The Common Core will be the cessation of

      20      educational standards in our country."

      21             I'm so glad I followed Dan, because I believe

      22      in most of what he said.

      23             Instead of having rigorous programs --

      24      because the math program is not rigorous -- but

      25      instead of having rigorous programs, we're going to







                                                                  120
       1      have critical thinking and twenty-first-century

       2      skills.

       3             These do not cut it for our students.

       4             We know already that college-readiness is a

       5      myth, because there are people on the standards,

       6      readiness standards, who would not agree to sign off

       7      on them because they were so weak.

       8             What we're going to get is a dumbing-down in

       9      our colleges if this goes on.

      10             R. James Milgram said that, by grade 5, our

      11      students would be a year behind other countries, and

      12      by grade 7, they would be two years behind.

      13             Now, this program that we have, the EngageNY,

      14      here are some just general things about that:

      15             I looked at nearly every -- every frame,

      16      every sheet, in kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2,

      17      grade 3, and most of grade 4.

      18             Those are our most important grades, where

      19      children learn the basics, them have to master the

      20      skills, and they're not going to do it with this

      21      math program.

      22             The program is unwieldy, it is cumbersome, it

      23      breaks things down into very small parts, and then

      24      they use the parts.

      25             They don't use the whole numbers.







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       1             It's expensive.

       2             A class, for instance, of 18, which is the

       3      reasonable number, uses anywhere between 126 and

       4      162 sheets of paper per day, plus colored computer

       5      ink.

       6             Parents do not get to see a textbook.

       7             All they get to see is this one sheet that

       8      comes home.

       9             They can't look ahead and see, Let's see,

      10      what's going on?

      11             What's coming?

      12             What will you be doing?

      13             They can't look back to help a child, because

      14      they have no textbook to look at it.

      15             They just have a worksheet.

      16             And we see that much of what they do is done

      17      with manipulatives.

      18             These are Unifix Cubes.

      19             They use cubes, they use their finger, they

      20      use their hands, they use their arms, but we want

      21      children to get it into their brains.

      22             We want them to master the facts so that they

      23      can apply this in math work, math problems.

      24             But they don't do this with this program.

      25             There's no criterion of what is mastery in







                                                                  122
       1      this program.

       2             And Dan reported --

       3             I call him Dan, because I didn't really catch

       4      his last name and I know it's a difficult one.

       5             -- "one size fits all."

       6             Just think now:

       7             Some of you are younger than others and you

       8      have young children.

       9             Think about your children being in a program.

      10             Say that you have a disabled child; they're

      11      in this program.

      12             Or that you know children who are

      13      low-performers; they're in this program.

      14             Everybody goes through the very same thing.

      15             Could we just -- okay, let's just look here

      16      now; okay?

      17             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Again --

      18             DEANN NELSON:  Yes.

      19             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You need to -- you need to

      20      wrap up, please, because you have extensive

      21      testimony which --

      22             DEANN NELSON:  Oh, I know, but we were

      23      20 minutes late in starting.

      24             Maybe I can have five of those minutes?

      25             Could I?







                                                                  123
       1             No, but --

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  We have a whole host of

       3      other people.

       4             DEANN NELSON:  -- but you need to look at

       5      this so that you understand what's going to --

       6      what's happening.

       7             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I'm a very good reader and

       8      I'm an excellent listener.

       9             I'm listening very carefully to everything

      10      that you're talking about, including the cubes, but,

      11      I'm just asking you, if you would respectfully --

      12      continue.

      13             DEANN NELSON:  Okay, am I to continue?

      14             Did you say, or not?

      15             Somebody else?

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Continue so that --

      17             DEANN NELSON:  What is your decision?

      18             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I would appreciate it if

      19      you could wrap up your comments so we can have the

      20      other panelists.

      21             DEANN NELSON:  How about, this is like a

      22      movie; we'll go through this really quickly.

      23             Do you have your packet there?

      24             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I was told I wasn't

      25      allowed to look at it yet.







                                                                  124
       1             DEANN NELSON:  You were -- you cheated.

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  No, I didn't.

       3             DEANN NELSON:  Oh, okay, let's look at it

       4      now.

       5                  [Laughter.]

       6             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  He's waiting for you to

       7      tell him it's okay for him to look at it.

       8             DEANN NELSON:  Okay, let's go.

       9             All right, okay.

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  K through 5, Lesson 19.

      11             DEANN NELSON:  All right, here we go, we're

      12      gonna go pretty fast.

      13             Number one --

      14             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  I don't have that.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  He doesn't have a copy of

      16      that.

      17             DEANN NELSON:  I know.

      18             I couldn't afford to give you all copies, and

      19      I didn't know how many there would be, so look on

      20      with Senator Flanagan.

      21             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Senator, you're the only

      22      one being tested.

      23             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  There's -- I will just say

      24      for the record that there's at least 8 -- there are

      25      20 --







                                                                  125
       1             DEANN NELSON:  There's 19.

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  -- 19.

       3             DEANN NELSON:  Yeah.

       4             And I gave you an article there on, "Closing

       5      the Door on Innovation."

       6             This was by 118 educators, prominent people

       7      in our society, who have said, this "one size, one

       8      all," this national curriculum, it closes the door

       9      on innovation.

      10             And it does.

      11             There's no research to support this math

      12      program; yet everybody in New York State, all of the

      13      schools in New York State, are using it.

      14             What's going to happen if it's a

      15      boondoggle? -- which I think it is.

      16             That means that our children are ill-prepared

      17      to go on to college.

      18             There's no pre-calculus.

      19             There's no calculus.

      20             You go to a good school, a good college, and

      21      you want to go into the business program, first

      22      thing they ask you, "Have you had calculus?"

      23             But you don't get it with this program.

      24             If you look here, Sheet Number 1, everything

      25      they want to do is, they break down numbers into the







                                                                  126
       1      component parts --

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Excuse me.

       3             I'm not going to go through 19 pages right

       4      now.

       5             I will -- I promise that I will look at

       6      these, but if you -- please, don't go through every

       7      page.

       8             DEANN NELSON:  Okay.

       9             How about I go to a page, like, page 3?

      10             Can we look at that?

      11             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Go ahead.

      12             DEANN NELSON:  Okay, because this is a

      13      homework page for kindergarten, it's the fifth

      14      module.

      15             Look at the reading level.

      16             Children are not reading at this level in

      17      kindergarten.

      18             There's, almost every word in that first

      19      sentence is an irregular word.

      20             What if you're a low-performer?

      21             You can't do it.

      22             Your mother doesn't know how to do it.

      23             See, you get two pages of this, and look how

      24      few things are on the page.

      25             That's expensive, and they only use one side.







                                                                  127
       1             Let's see.

       2             Go to, let's look at -- let's look at page 8.

       3             And thank you for being so agreeable.

       4             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You're welcome.

       5             Thank you as well.

       6                  [Laughter.]

       7             DEANN NELSON:  I know, I'm driven.

       8             Okay, Number 3, look it, here's a simple

       9      addition: 18 plus 6.

      10             But we have to break it down into its

      11      component parts, and we use the component parts, we

      12      don't use the "18" and the "6."

      13             We're in grade 2, "grade 2," and they're

      14      doing this.

      15             So we add the 8 and the 2 to get 10.

      16             So got 10 plus 10 plus 4 equals 24.

      17             We could have just learned to carry and add

      18      the 18 plus the 6.

      19             Let's go to 11, okay, we're jumping ahead

      20      here.

      21             Look how fast we're moving.

      22             Thank you, Senator.

      23             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  "11" will be the last one,

      24      so we're going really fast.

      25             DEANN NELSON:  I like your smile.







                                                                  128
       1             You have a nice smile.

       2                  [Laughter.]

       3             DEANN NELSON:  Okay, here's, grade 2,

       4      fourth module, new step in how we're doing this,

       5      "19 plus 32," which would be very simple to add;

       6      but, no, we're going to break down the 32 into

       7      30 plus 2.

       8             And now we add 19 plus 30 -- and now we have

       9      a new rigmarole here, a new line -- equals 49, and

      10      then we add 2 to that to equal 51.

      11             And if you jump down to Number 3, we have a

      12      new way of doing that.

      13             Off to the side, we do, breaking down the

      14      18: 10 plus 8; 25: 20 plus 5; we get 30 plus 13

      15      equals 43.

      16             We have all of these steps, when we could

      17      have learned to use the algorithm.

      18             ERIC MIHELBERGEL:  I'll be touching on the

      19      same things a little bit as well.

      20             DEANN NELSON:  Oh, good.

      21             Okay, go to 14.

      22             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay, this is the last

      23      one.

      24             DEANN NELSON:  Is it?

      25             Oh, gosh.







                                                                  129
       1             Oh...

       2             Okay, 14: we're learning how to divide

       3      54 by 6.

       4             What's the answer?

       5             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  "9."

       6             DEANN NELSON:  Okay, good.

       7             All right, but --

       8             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  It wasn't on the sheet, by

       9      the way.

      10             I figured that out myself.

      11                  [Laughter.]

      12             DEANN NELSON:  Good for you, you get an "A."

      13             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I learned it the

      14      old-fashioned way.

      15             DEANN NELSON:  Okay, but, instead, we break

      16      down the 54, to 30 divided by 6.

      17             We break down the 6.

      18             Then we have, 24 divided by 6.

      19             And we've had this whole thing strung out, so

      20      we have all of these steps to go through, when we

      21      could just learn, 54 divided by 6.

      22             Wouldn't that be simple?

      23             Just look at page --

      24                  [Laughter.]

      25             DEANN NELSON:  I know, one more?







                                                                  130
       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Respectfully, we have --

       2      you have colleagues here, and we have a very busy

       3      schedule.

       4             I will say this --

       5             DEANN NELSON:  Okay.

       6             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  -- so I want to be very

       7      clear with you:

       8             I very much appreciate your passion; we all

       9      do.

      10             The information that you provided to us is

      11      helpful.

      12             In my quick review of the pages that you

      13      showed me, it's confusing, to say the least.

      14             DEANN NELSON:  Isn't it?

      15             Yes.

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Now, this is valuable, not

      17      only for the members of the Committee, but for the

      18      people who will be listening, and watching, and who

      19      will be seeing what we put together as part of a

      20      public record.

      21             That's the whole fundamental point of doing

      22      this.

      23             So, make one last comment, and then we're

      24      going to Carrie.

      25             DEANN NELSON:  Okay, here it is:







                                                                  131
       1             Repeal Common Core.

       2             Return New York State to rule of law and

       3      liberty:

       4             New York State Constitution, our education

       5      laws.

       6             Create new rigorous education standards.

       7             Use Massachusetts' former standards as the

       8      guide, as the model.

       9             They were number one in the entire

      10      United States.

      11             Sandra Stotsky, who was on the committee,

      12      created those standards for Massachusetts.

      13             School boards serve as our guardians.

      14             You have -- their role has practically been

      15      eliminated with this Common Core and federal

      16      takeover.

      17             And my last point is that, it's unethical and

      18      immoral to use New York children as guinea pigs on a

      19      program that has no research validation.

      20             That's it.

      21             Thank you.

      22             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Are you sure?

      23             DEANN NELSON:  I'm sure.

      24                  [Laughter.]

      25             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  All right, now this is







                                                                  132
       1      diversity live, okay, right here.

       2             I want to just -- before Carrie speaks,

       3      I just want to make a public statement, that I've

       4      had the privilege of working with her as one of the

       5      Governor's Education Reform Commission members.

       6             She is dedicated, professional, and a

       7      wonderful person to work with.

       8             So, Carrie, with that introduction, feel no

       9      pressure.

      10             CARRIE REMIS:  Good afternoon,

      11      Senator Flanagan, and members of the

      12      Education Committee.

      13             Thank you for the opportunity to give

      14      testimony today, and to allow me to share the parent

      15      perspective as you take stock of the Regents Reform

      16      Agenda moving forward.

      17             My name is Carrie Remis.

      18             I'm the founding director of the Parent Power

      19      Project, a Rochester-based organization working to

      20      build the capacity of parents in the

      21      lowest-performing schools in the state.

      22             Our work is a mix of capacity building and

      23      advocacy.

      24             Our agenda is pretty much exactly what

      25      Principal Drmacich opposes:







                                                                  133
       1             We support teacher evaluations, we support

       2      life over form, we support parental choice, Common

       3      Core, and parent trigger.

       4             On a personal note, I'm the mother of a

       5      sophomore in one of state's best high schools;

       6      a point I make to say that I understand well the

       7      competing pressures that you face, from both the

       8      high-performing districts and the lowest-performing

       9      districts, because I feel them too.

      10             That said, I'm here today to urge you to not

      11      lose sight of the agenda, and to offer some parent

      12      insight into the parent position as you move forward

      13      in most critical and challenging phase of the

      14      rollout.

      15             First, let me say that parents are not a

      16      monolithic group.

      17             We come in all shapes and sizes, and we

      18      rarely agree about how to educate or raise our

      19      children.

      20             But that said, I believe very strongly that

      21      the parent opposition to the Reform Agenda that has

      22      crept into the headlines marks a minority position

      23      and does not reflect the majority of parents in this

      24      state.

      25             I draw this conclusion based on years of







                                                                  134
       1      direct contact with parents, in our training, and as

       2      a former admissions counselor, as well as, because

       3      of the polls that overwhelmingly show that the

       4      public is in agreement with the goals of standards

       5      and accountability, and the need for intervention.

       6             In my written testimony, I have included some

       7      specifics from the recent polling, and I urge you to

       8      read them.

       9             I wanted to share some insight.

      10             Despite this agreement, there is a disconnect

      11      that the Senator Flanagan mentioned, and some

      12      parents are loudly voicing concerns, and we cannot

      13      reform the public education system without parent

      14      buy-in, and I urge you not to dismiss us.

      15             But I'd like to discuss some of the

      16      underlying factors underlying these parent concerns.

      17             First, parents, in general, feel sidelined by

      18      their day-to-day interactions with their local

      19      educational bureaucracies.

      20             We often struggle with schools that are

      21      unresponsive, that don't return our phone calls,

      22      that create hoop after hoop for us to jump through.

      23             And for those of us who want to be involved

      24      in the school-improvement effort, we are often

      25      relegated to bake sales, and booster clubs, and sort







                                                                  135
       1      of advisory roles, that really make no impact if

       2      we're honest.

       3             And these day-to-day experiences are not the

       4      region's doing, nor are they within their control to

       5      fix, but they are part of the parent experience and

       6      part of our context.

       7             Under these circumstances, it can be very

       8      difficult for some of us to embrace an agenda that

       9      feels very disconnected from the day-to-day

      10      realities of being a parent.

      11             I urge you to read the Public Agenda's

      12      report, "Don't Count Us Out," which talks about this

      13      disconnect in further detail.

      14             The second underlying factor I would like to

      15      discuss today is the elephant in the room: special

      16      interests; namely, the teachers union and their

      17      locals who are strategically taking advantage of

      18      parents who feel sidelined, amplifying, and even

      19      distorting our concerns.

      20             Although it may seem counterintuitive, my

      21      recommendation is that the only remedy is true

      22      parent empowerment.

      23             Specifically, I urge you to consider the

      24      following three measures:

      25             First, incentivize autonomous parent







                                                                  136
       1      organizing.

       2             Last week's PTA meeting in Poughkeepsie is

       3      not unique.

       4             In fact, in parent organizations across this

       5      state, teachers unions have hijacked our

       6      organizations.

       7             But more troubling than these disruptive

       8      meetings is the fact that these co-opted and

       9      highjacked parent organizations are the same

      10      organizations charged with electing parent

      11      representatives to the school-based planning teams.

      12             And if you're not familiar with

      13      Commissioner's regs, 100.11, this is where the

      14      rubber hits the road; this is where state policy is

      15      implemented locally.

      16             The teachers union would never tolerate

      17      another stakeholder inserting themselves into their

      18      organizational meetings or influencing their

      19      representation or scripting their policy positions,

      20      but this is precisely what happens to parents.

      21             And I believe that this is one of the reasons

      22      why parents are finding it very difficult to

      23      identify the parent interest in these very complex

      24      and noisy policy debates.

      25             We need to find our voice, and we need your







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       1      help.

       2             My second recommendation is to spur

       3      innovation in the parent-development space.

       4             Unlike teacher and principal development,

       5      parent training is largely controlled by the local

       6      administration, leaving parents incredibly dependent

       7      on the local administration for information about

       8      Regents policy.

       9             This is another one of your problems.

      10             A recent rash of misinformation coming out of

      11      Monroe County school systems really underscores the

      12      conflict of interest inherent in this arrangement.

      13             It's become clear to us that Common Core has

      14      become the new boogeyman in education, blamed for

      15      everything, from dismantled accelerated math

      16      programs, to denied special-education evaluations,

      17      to no recess.

      18             While I don't think that it's reasonable to

      19      police all of these misinformation campaigns,

      20      I think it's important to know they are happening,

      21      and I ask you to consider opening up the

      22      parent-engagement space to providers outside of the

      23      system who don't have the same conflict of interest

      24      and who might bring a more neutral and objective

      25      perspective to the Regents agenda; namely,







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       1      Common Core.

       2             Community-based organizations, civic groups,

       3      and community colleges are among the unbiased voices

       4      I believe we need to have in this discussion.

       5             The successful implementation of the

       6      Regents Reform Agenda will hinge on whether or not

       7      we brought in this conversation beyond the internal

       8      stakeholders and the idealogues.

       9             My third recommendation is to mandate

      10      increased transparency around collective bargaining.

      11             Conspiracy theories thrive in the dark, as

      12      you've seen today.

      13             Whether they're about Common Core, APPR, or

      14      student data, in our work with parents on these

      15      topics, we found that most of these conspiracy

      16      theories have one thing in common, and that is that

      17      the public doesn't really understand where state

      18      mandates and local bargaining begins; and as a

      19      result, the Regents and the Commissioner are

      20      routinely scapegoated decisions they did not make,

      21      but that are made at the local bargaining table.

      22             Consider this example from Rochester:

      23             The City school districts negotiated an

      24      elaborate system of locally-developed pretests for

      25      the student-growth measure of APPR.







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       1             When parent complaints began to surface about

       2      the pretests --

       3             And these complaints had two parts:

       4             One, students were reporting that their

       5      teachers were coaching them to bomb the pretests so

       6      that they, quote, looked smarter on the state tests;

       7             And the second complaint was from some

       8      parents who were concerned about this unnecessary

       9      and additional battery of tests.

      10             -- in response to these very legitimate

      11      parent concerns, the districts basically blamed

      12      Commissioner King in his testing mania, even though

      13      he did not choose to design these pretests, nor did

      14      he implement them.

      15             The Regents needs the public support of their

      16      agenda, and the public needs the full story of, if

      17      we are to engage in a meaningful and productive way.

      18             Without access to the collective bargaining

      19      agreements, which, as you may know, include more

      20      than just the contract.

      21             It's a -- there's a whole pile of hidden side

      22      agreements, addenda, and memos of understanding.

      23             Without this full picture, parents,

      24      taxpayers, and even members of the media, do not

      25      have a full understanding of the issues, and in many







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       1      cases, are engaging blind.

       2             We ask you to consider mandating full

       3      disclosure of these collective-bargaining agreements

       4      so that we don't have to FOIL them.

       5             And we ask you to mandate the public

       6      ratification of these documents so that these side

       7      agreements that we all know exist are at least aired

       8      in public.

       9             And changing gears a bit, I wanted to make an

      10      appeal on behalf of the parents in failing schools

      11      who, as you know, do not have unions, do not have

      12      political or economic power.

      13             They largely are living in our urban

      14      districts, and they face a terrible dilemma that

      15      I ask you to keep first and foremost in your mind.

      16             They are desperate for reform, but they lack

      17      the political power to make it happen.

      18             They need your help.

      19             For the last 30 years in Rochester, the

      20      educational establishment has creatively avoided

      21      making any fundamental change.

      22             We've had this steady churn of gimmicks and

      23      path-of-least-resistance turnaround plans that have

      24      garnered a lot of headlines but have produced no

      25      student gains.







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       1             Our only claim to fame is that we have the

       2      lowest student-to-teacher ratio in the state, and

       3      the second-to-highest spending.

       4             Today are -- only 5 percent of Rochester

       5      students are proficient, and only 9 percent of our

       6      Black males graduate on time.

       7             The urgent fundamental change that children

       8      in persistently failing schools need and deserve is

       9      impossible with many of the local players in our

      10      urban districts.

      11             On behalf of these parents and their

      12      children, I urge you to pursue in earnest aggressive

      13      State intervention.

      14             Thank you.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Carrier, thank you very

      16      much.

      17             And last, but by certainly no means least,

      18      Eric --

      19             Eric, how do you say your last name?

      20             ERIC MIHELBERGEL:  Last name is pronounced

      21      "Mihelbergel," and, it's a Hungarian name.

      22             My name is Eric.

      23             I am a parent of two daughters; one is in the

      24      sixth grade, and the other is in the third grade.

      25             About a year ago, both of my children started







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       1      coming home, telling me that they were taking

       2      bubble tests in art, they were filling in

       3      bubble tests in gym, and in music class, and that

       4      prompted me to ask some questions; it prompted me to

       5      do some research.

       6             I wrote a long letter to the New York State

       7      Board of Regents.

       8             Received three phone calls from them; had a

       9      meeting with Mr. Bennett; and I really started to

      10      do some research.

      11             I spent -- I remember one day, back in

      12      February, I spent 11 hours in one week on the phone

      13      with the New York State Education Department, trying

      14      to educate myself.

      15             Now, over the last 8 months, I have gotten

      16      quite involved with advocacy.

      17             And on behalf of thousands of parents in

      18      New York, I would like to thank you for taking the

      19      time to listen to people's concerns today.

      20             That is a huge benefit to parents; parents

      21      want to be heard.

      22             Since I started my advocacy efforts, I have

      23      been receiving approximately 30 to

      24      40 communications, personal communications, with

      25      parents, each and every day.







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       1             Over the last 8 months, if you do the

       2      multiplication, that's over 8,000 personal

       3      communications that I have received from other

       4      parents: e-mails, personal phone calls, text

       5      messages.

       6             And so I'm here today, not necessarily to

       7      give my opinions, but to give the concerns of other

       8      parents.

       9             And I would like to start by saying that I do

      10      not think that parent concerns, such as those that

      11      have recently come to the news, I do not think those

      12      are in the minority.

      13             I think there are still a lot of parents out

      14      there that have not been educated yet to make a

      15      decision one way or another.

      16             Through my advocacy efforts, what I have

      17      found is that, as parents learn what's going on in

      18      education, they realize that they need to start

      19      asking questions.

      20             The biggest concern that I have come across

      21      with parents is the high-stakes nature of testing.

      22             That seems to be of greatest concern.

      23             Many parents are also concerned about the

      24      privacy of their children's data, they're concerned

      25      about many other things, but the high-stakes nature







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       1      is a very large concern.

       2             The reasons that I hear, on a regular basis,

       3      is because when we introduce the high-stakes nature,

       4      not just testing, but the high-stakes nature of

       5      testing, the focus shifts; and it shifts from

       6      learner-centered learning, it shifts then to

       7      teacher-centered teaching and administrator-centered

       8      administrating.

       9             The pressure is on the teachers, the pressure

      10      is on the administrators, to perform on tests, and

      11      they have no choice then but to transfer that

      12      pressure to our students.

      13             And when we transfer that pressure to our

      14      students, it creates a tremendous amount of stress

      15      for those students.

      16             It brings that stress into the home.

      17             We all know that stress creates fear, creates

      18      anger, it destroys education.

      19             My third-grader -- and this dovetails off of

      20      what my friend here had mentioned earlier -- comes

      21      home with worksheets in math.

      22             Now, my third-grader is, she's relatively

      23      intelligent.

      24             She solves the Rubik's Cube in 3 1/2 minutes.

      25             She has a mind that is logical.







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       1             She and I sat down last week, working on a

       2      homework assignment.

       3             I have a physics degree.

       4             Neither of us could understand and complete

       5      the homework assignment.

       6             This is not just in my household; this is

       7      what I hear from 30 to 40 parents, per day, about

       8      what's going on in their homes.

       9             The stress that these new standards, that

      10      testing has brought into the home, it's changing the

      11      dynamic of American homes.

      12             The tension between school boards and parents

      13      has increased greatly, and the high-stakes nature of

      14      testing falls directly between them.

      15             Parents and school boards want to be united.

      16             The school boards have to follow the law;

      17      they must.

      18             And parents will do what's right for their

      19      children.

      20             And we've seen across the state, parents are,

      21      in many cases, blatantly refusing to allow their

      22      children to participate in these tests.

      23             And we have awakened a sleeping giant.

      24             A year ago, I was very much closed to what

      25      was going on.







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       1             I started asking questions.

       2             A year later, I can't tell you how many more

       3      parents are asking questions than they were a year

       4      ago.

       5             And so to wrap it up, I have a quote that is

       6      in my written testimony as well, but this is a quote

       7      from William Bruce Cameron.

       8             He was a well-known sociologist.

       9             And this quote often gets quoted as a quote

      10      from Einstein, but, in fact, it is not.

      11             It says this:

      12             "It would be nice if all the data which

      13      sociologists require could be enumerated, because

      14      then we could run them through IBM machines and draw

      15      charts as the economists do.

      16             However, not everything that counts can be

      17      counted, and not everything that can be counted

      18      counts."

      19             We're doing a lot of measuring in our schools

      20      today.

      21             And I fear that we're measuring too much and

      22      we're not focusing on the independent -- individual

      23      child enough.

      24             This is a quote that I wrote:

      25             "When we define the worth of our children







                                                                  147
       1      solely by that which can be measured, then their

       2      worth becomes the measurement itself.

       3             Their life is no longer their own, and the

       4      owner of the measurement dictates the child's

       5      worth."

       6             So I will wrap it up by stating, that the

       7      New York State Code of Ethics of Educators, under

       8      Principle Number 2, says that "Educators know the

       9      curriculum, they use a range of strategies and

      10      assessments to address differences."

      11             And I ask all of us today to think about,

      12      How can we claim to be using a range of assessments,

      13      when my children's classrooms, and the classrooms

      14      all across New York State, the biggest concern of

      15      parents is the extreme focus on math and ELA tests?

      16             And I thank you once again for listening to

      17      me, and I thank you once again for understanding

      18      concerns of parents.

      19             Thank you.

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  My colleagues don't have

      21      any questions.

      22             Eric, I just do have one questions, and it

      23      goes back to something that's come up on a number

      24      occasions.

      25             It's a question, and a request.







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       1             There are constant comments about the volume

       2      of testing, the nature of testing.

       3             And in asking this question repeatedly,

       4      I still am not getting a uniformity of response by

       5      any stretch.

       6             In fact, we're not even getting a response,

       7      in large part.

       8             If you are to look and say, a child comes in

       9      to kindergarten this year, and make the assumption

      10      that nothing changes during their educational time

      11      frame, what are the tests that a child has to take

      12      as directed by the State of New York?

      13             Now, you and I both know, you obviously pay

      14      close attention to the ELA tests.

      15             There are certain functions that are put upon

      16      us by the federal government.

      17             I get that.

      18             There are certain things, like the Regents,

      19      that I get, as someone who works for the State, but,

      20      there is a tremendous amount of comments about the

      21      volume of testing.

      22             I still have not seen something that says, if

      23      there's pre-testing and post-testing and diagnostic

      24      testing in first grade or second grade, I haven't

      25      seen any Commissioner's regulation, I haven't seen







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       1      anything, formally, that comes out of SED.

       2             It seems to me, and I certainly want the

       3      information, if you have something that shows to the

       4      contrary, please share it with us, because one of

       5      the fundamental questions we ask is, "Well, all

       6      right, how many tests?"

       7             And once that question gets asked, there's

       8      not always a lot of information forthcoming.

       9             ERIC MIHELBERGEL:  Yes, and we can provide

      10      you direct research on that.

      11             But to comment on what you've mentioned here,

      12      from the New York State Education Department, we

      13      have math and ELA tests from grade 3 through 8.

      14             We have science in grades 4 and 8.

      15             And so the New York State Education

      16      Department tells us that that's all they require,

      17      but they also require APPR.

      18             And as we know, individual school districts

      19      have some choice in that.

      20             But what's happening across the state is, the

      21      New York State Education Department can say,

      22      "We only require tests in 3 through 8, in math and

      23      ELA"; but, because they require APPR, there's

      24      another onslaught of tests.

      25             And I can tell you that, my daughter has been







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       1      presented with tests in playing the recorder, as a

       2      pretest.

       3             She's been presented with tests in music, in

       4      art, in gym class.

       5             Not every student is tested, because they're

       6      only required to assess 51 percent of the students

       7      for these APPR-, SLO-type tests.

       8             But I can tell you that, when we include

       9      state tests, then when we add into it the required

      10      tests that schools are using to support their

      11      APPR agreements, it's excessive, and we can provide

      12      documentation.

      13             The latest number I've heard is, average

      14      student is taking 3200 minutes per year of tests,

      15      and there's documentation to support that.

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Appreciate that, and this

      17      is probably our most -- well, certainly most

      18      interesting panel to date.

      19             So, come on, we have a wide range of opinions

      20      right here.

      21             So, thank you very much.

      22             Our next panel, New York State United

      23      Teachers, Steve Allinger; and, Todd Hathaway from

      24      East Aurora High School.

      25             TODD HATHAWAY:  Thank you, Senators, for







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       1      having this meeting today; thank you for inviting

       2      me; thank you for holding these around the state.

       3             I'm gonna talk today both as a parent and as

       4      a teacher, I think what Commissioner King labels a

       5      "special interest."

       6             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Can you move the mic a

       7      little closer.

       8             TODD HATHAWAY:  Oh, sorry.

       9             I'm a teacher in East Aurora High School.

      10             I've been there for 12 years.

      11             I have taught in the city of Buffalo prior to

      12      that for three years, and, I also taught in rural

      13      Virginia.

      14             I'm also a volunteer NYSUT PAC coordinator,

      15      and a proud parent of three children.

      16             And, my role as a parent really transformed

      17      me as a teacher.

      18             It really -- it brought me into this issue

      19      of -- particularly, of high-stakes testing.

      20             And it did so last year as my son Jonah [ph.]

      21      entered into kindergarten, and, Jonah is a "boy" in

      22      capital letters.

      23             He is energetic, he is happy, he is ready to

      24      go with the world.

      25             And as the year progressed, his principal and







                                                                  152
       1      his teacher both expressed concern at that energy.

       2             And they said to me, you know:

       3             There's no academic need right now, your son

       4      is doing fantastic in school, but as he progresses

       5      into the high-stakes nature of the three days of

       6      testing, we have some concerns about where he'll

       7      progress.

       8             This is in kindergarten.

       9             This in, actually, in December of his first

      10      year of kindergarten.

      11             And they recommended, because of that, to

      12      retain him.

      13             They said the best place for him to be, was

      14      to retain my son into kindergarten.

      15             And that was a hard conversation, as a

      16      teacher, as a parent.

      17             Nobody wants to hear that about their child.

      18             And what struck me most over thinking about

      19      that, was wondering, "Not right now" they said; it

      20      was because of what would happen long term, many

      21      years from now.

      22             And they said, you know, "As he progresses

      23      into this arena, where you're going to be tested

      24      constantly."

      25             My nephew was born 20 days separately than my







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       1      son.

       2             He progressed on to first grade.

       3             He has a test every Friday in math and

       4      English.

       5             He's in first grade.

       6             He cannot write, he can barely read.

       7             And it's fantastic that he's able to do that.

       8             And so I began to really think about, in my

       9      role as a teacher, well, what are these tests that

      10      are so concerning to my son's principal and teacher

      11      that would make them recommend to retain my son?

      12             And, I began to understand that, and I looked

      13      at these three days of tests.

      14             And, principally, as a high school

      15      social studies teacher, I give high-stakes every

      16      year.

      17             I teach Global Regents, one of the harder

      18      Regents exams in New York State; I also teach

      19      advanced placement; where both of those are

      20      high-stakes tests.

      21             One is a high school graduation requirement.

      22             The other is the test designed to challenge

      23      for college credit.

      24             And so I said, well, taking that knowledge,

      25      and I said, let's apply that to the three days of







                                                                  154
       1      tests, and begin to understand where this places

       2      them.

       3             Do they fit with what we're doing at the end

       4      of a child's K-to-12 career?

       5             Does it make sense we're doing the same thing

       6      at the beginning of a child's K-to-12 career?

       7             And, it didn't come out well.

       8             I looked at these tests, and said, well,

       9      simply, first, what's the diagnostic nature of a

      10      3-to-8 test?

      11             And there isn't one.

      12             As a high school global teacher, we give our

      13      exams in the middle of June, they're scored,

      14      returned to the students in their form within

      15      two weeks.

      16             I as a teacher can diagnose the issues of my

      17      instruction, the areas I need to improve upon.

      18             I can then improve that the next year.

      19             Same thing can happen with my students;

      20      I understand where they're going.

      21             What's the transparency of these three days

      22      of tests?

      23             There is none.

      24             As a Global Regents teacher, I have access to

      25      every single Regents exam given since 2003, fully







                                                                  155
       1      available on the SED website.

       2             I use it constantly.

       3             I pull off thematic essay questions,

       4      [unintelligible] questions, and multiple-choice

       5      questions; therefore, I can prepare my students for

       6      the high-stakes natures of these tests.

       7             Same thing goes for an advanced-placement

       8      exam.

       9             The exams are available.

      10             They're not free, you gotta pay for it, but,

      11      they're available.

      12             I get an instructional planning report that

      13      diagnoses the nature of my teaching and my

      14      instruction, and the strengths and weaknesses of my

      15      students.

      16             That makes them useful.

      17             That makes my Global Regents exam scores and

      18      tests useful to me as an instructor, and useful to

      19      me as parent, potentially, in many years when my

      20      children go on the high school, that I know where

      21      they stand on these issues by these standards.

      22             Same thing in college, for the

      23      advanced-placement exams; same thing holds.

      24             So having high standards is good.

      25             Having standards is fantastic.







                                                                  156
       1             But having high standards that are not

       2      transparent -- or, tests, excuse me, that are not

       3      transparent, that are not diagnostic, that are not

       4      timely.

       5             I give -- three-day tests are administered in

       6      early April, but scores are returned to parents in

       7      September and October.

       8             Schools get them in August.

       9             How can that help them inform instruction, or

      10      for a parent to understand the strength or weakness

      11      of their child, if those scores are not timely?

      12             As a teacher, I'm encouraged to return

      13      student work as quick as possible to maximize

      14      learning.

      15             How is SED modeling that same standard?

      16             Because what students want, is to perform and

      17      receive feedback.

      18             Everyone wants the same thing.

      19             Three days of tests don't provide that.

      20             And, so, the utility of these tests I call

      21      into question.

      22             How can they help prepare students for

      23      college- and-career readiness when we don't receive

      24      any meaningful feedback?

      25             Oh, you receive feedback.







                                                                  157
       1             You receive a score of 1, 2, 3, or 4, but

       2      that's an empty, meaningless score, because the

       3      tests aren't transparent, they're not diagnostic,

       4      they're not timely; and, therefore, it makes them

       5      useless.

       6             If we're gonna give tests, if we're gonna

       7      assess our students, we must make sure they meet

       8      that simple criteria: that they're timely, they're

       9      transparent, they're diagnostic; therefore, useful.

      10             Those phrases should be underlying what we do

      11      with our high-stakes testing-assessment programs;

      12      not just scores for scores' sake.

      13             We need to make sure we focus upon that.

      14             So, to focus that -- and I'll back up.

      15             Regents Bennett spoke about that earlier; he

      16      spoke about the need for data to drive instruction.

      17             Well, SED does not provide data to drive

      18      instruction if it's not returned to district or the

      19      student in a timely manner to help inform, and then

      20      prescribe better and improved instruction.

      21             So we must do that in terms of overall

      22      structuring.

      23             So, to summarize, because many of our

      24      speakers went longer, and I'll be short, and I speak

      25      fast, I know -- is, that we must have a three-year







                                                                  158
       1      moratorium on the consequences of high-stakes

       2      testing.

       3             We have to understand what we've done here.

       4             And I want to -- and I speak as a high school

       5      teacher:

       6             As we prepare the Common Core ELA exam, and

       7      also the ELA Algebra exam -- and the Common Core

       8      Algebra exam, going forward this year, to be

       9      administered this June, if those scores hold as we

      10      progress through the year, will that number of

      11      students, therefore, be ineligible to graduate,

      12      simply because of the ELA exam, which is -- they're

      13      taking it in their junior year;

      14             Therefore, schools are now placed under

      15      pressure of graduation are plummeting, demands for

      16      academic intervention services skyrocket?

      17             What are we going to do then if that holds

      18      forward, and the consequences then, for school

      19      districts, for principals, and teachers remains so

      20      severe?

      21             The testing regimen isn't helping us; it's

      22      punishing us.

      23             We need to make sure we focus upon that.

      24             The final issue I want to talk to you, the

      25      final point is the issue of funding.







                                                                  159
       1             Today, in 2008, New York State spends

       2      $405 less than it did in 2008.

       3             If we simply return to that level of funding,

       4      we could improve supports for our students.

       5             Each year that we distance from that

       6      benchmark year of 2008, those gaps get larger.

       7             We close off CTE instructions.

       8             Schools are being forced to choose between

       9      CTE instruction, and, therefore -- and then turn to

      10      supports for ELA and math because, their

      11      assessments, their performance reviews, depend upon

      12      those scores.

      13             And so we want to be college- and

      14      career-ready?

      15             We're closing off careers because we're so

      16      focused on test scores for college preparation

      17      [unintelligible].

      18             The final thing I want to say, is when I sat

      19      in this room, I was amazed.

      20             I've never been in the Common Hall Council,

      21      and I looked around at the pillars.

      22             I thought it was fascinating to do so,

      23      because they're all inscribed with words of justice

      24      and charity and philosophy, knowledge and prudence,

      25      and patriotism.







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       1             None of those things are testable.

       2             None of those things are -- if these are the

       3      things we do value, why is it we're so overly

       4      focused upon simple test scores?

       5             And I'll close with that.

       6              Thank you, gentlemen.

       7             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  I've got one.

       8             Give me just a minute here.

       9             Two questions:

      10             Why are teachers sworn to secrecy regarding

      11      the tests?

      12             TODD HATHAWAY:  That's an SED requirement.

      13             If you look in the instruction handbook

      14      that's provided to teachers, they are not allowed to

      15      talk about it.

      16             If they do, their certifications are removed.

      17             SED's position is, it's not FOIL-able either.

      18             I have seen many FOIL requests from other

      19      parents, and it's been denied by SED.

      20             I could not speculate as to why.

      21             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  What's not FOIL-able?

      22             The instructions?

      23             TODD HATHAWAY:  The tests themselves are not

      24      FOIL-able.

      25             The New York State parents, teachers, and







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       1      administrators do not have access to those tests.

       2             So, for instance, last year's tests that were

       3      administered, unless SED chooses to release them,

       4      and they've not done so.

       5             They've released selections from there, but

       6      they have not released the entire test.

       7             If you talk about it, you can lose your

       8      license.

       9             And that's been threatened before.

      10             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  My other question --

      11             STEPHEN ALLINGER:  Senator --

      12             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  -- you may not know the

      13      answer --

      14             Oh, I'm sorry.

      15             STEPHEN ALLINGER:  -- yeah, I just wanted to

      16      add, that's why we've been pursuing legislation

      17      called "Truth About Testing," so that there's

      18      accountability for the test manufacturing -- you

      19      know, the test companies, that there's an actual

      20      arm's-length peer-reviewed study of the effects on

      21      teaching and learning, whether there is a narrowing

      22      of the curriculum, how much time is diverted from

      23      teaching and learning, and the reliability and the

      24      validity of the evaluations.

      25             Right now, we would -- because of the lack of







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       1      transparency and accountability, we believe that

       2      there is very little faith that these high-stakes

       3      testing have reliability and validity, particularly

       4      in use for determining what students access to

       5      challenging course work, or determining whether a

       6      teacher keeps their job.

       7             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Has anybody put that

       8      legislation forward yet?

       9             Anybody sponsored that yet, to your

      10      knowledge?

      11             STEPHEN ALLINGER:  There's been legislation

      12      introduced in both the Senate and the Assembly.

      13             We also have concerns on the privacy side,

      14      and where Senator Grisanti had sponsored

      15      legislation.

      16             But we would -- you know, we want to work

      17      with -- with the Senate as a body, to address the

      18      accountability issues.

      19             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Understood.

      20             The next question you may not know the answer

      21      to, I know that the test results are coming back,

      22      roughly, in the fall, in the next school year.

      23             Is that something just because it's new, or

      24      is that going to change, to your knowledge?

      25             TODD HATHAWAY:  That's a question better







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       1      addressed to SED.

       2             I could speculate, but I do not know why.

       3             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  You don't know the answer.

       4             Okay, thank you.

       5             STEPHEN ALLINGER:  I think in a prior

       6      hearing, Senator, they raised the issue of

       7      resources, but we should -- if anything -- students

       8      and educators are in such a fragile state, in terms

       9      of their vulnerability, that we shouldn't do a

      10      cheap, dumbed-down assessment policy.

      11             I think the truthful answer that you received

      12      at the first hearing, is they didn't have the

      13      resources to do this the right way, if I had to

      14      summarize what I heard.

      15             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Thanks.

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Senator Ranzenhofer.

      17             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Thank you.

      18             First of all, thank you for your testimony.

      19             And this is more a question just out of

      20      curiosity, because they're really different.

      21             But I would think, as I'm listening, and I've

      22      listened to and read a lot about this, that between

      23      kindergarten and graduation from high school,

      24      there's probably no more high-stakes tests than the

      25      SAT.







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       1             So, again, different type, but we do advocate

       2      eliminating the SAT?

       3             TODD HATHAWAY:  I would not, because I think

       4      the issue there is timing.

       5             The SAT is administered to high school

       6      students who are -- and I'll say this as a

       7      high school teacher -- generally more mature than

       8      elementary-school students, but, that's not an

       9      absolute in any respect whatsoever.

      10                  [Laughter.]

      11             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  I thought you said

      12      you're a high school teacher?

      13             TODD HATHAWAY:  I am a high school teacher,

      14      but I --

      15             Yeah, I've seen a lot.

      16             9-year-olds taking a --

      17             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  I just wanted your

      18      opinion.

      19             You know --

      20             TODD HATHAWAY:  No, no, not all.

      21             If a college requires it, absolutely, but

      22      that's the timing of it.

      23             You know, and the same thing, as a

      24      high school teacher, I teach advanced-placement

      25      world history and European history; very difficult







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       1      courses.

       2             But that's, when they're administered,

       3      they're in high school.

       4             They are nearing -- they can get cars soon.

       5             And I think that's a reason for requirement:

       6             If you can get a driver's license, you should

       7      be able to sit down and take a test, and prepare,

       8      because you're now on the road and can endanger all

       9      of our lives.

      10             I give that same speech to students, by the

      11      way.

      12             But when you're, nine, ten years old,

      13      stressing out, throwing up, not liking school,

      14      because you're so concerned about a test and the

      15      test score, not necessarily because you want to

      16      perform because you understand the intrinsic nature

      17      of the test, but because you want to please adults.

      18             That's a big difference.

      19             That's a maturity issue that high-stakes

      20      testing, you know, in 3 through 8 is inappropriate

      21      for that reason.

      22             STEPHEN ALLINGER:  It is also pseudoscience.

      23             It's not reliable.

      24             There's no research to support high-stakes

      25      testing in the early grades.







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       1             In fact, it's almost universally condemned by

       2      researchers in this field and professional

       3      associations.

       4             So, we urge you to proscribe it so that

       5      you're not subjecting kids to this kind of abuse;

       6      but, moreover, you're not getting unreliable, lousy

       7      results and making bad decisions with that

       8      information.

       9             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  So should there be a

      10      different standard then for high school students

      11      versus middle-school and elementary-school students?

      12             STEPHEN ALLINGER:  It should be

      13      developmentally appropriate.

      14             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Okay, thank you.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I do have a couple of

      16      questions, and, Todd, I appreciate the swiftness of

      17      your testimony.

      18             But, you made a reference to, a valuable test

      19      is, essentially, timely, transparent, and

      20      diagnostic.

      21             TODD HATHAWAY:  Yes.

      22             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  And then, everyone here

      23      keeps using the phrase, "high-stakes testing."

      24             Can you have a test that is timely,

      25      transparent, diagnostic, and still high-stakes?







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       1             TODD HATHAWAY:  That's the Regents exams.

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Sorry?

       3             TODD HATHAWAY:  That's the Regents exams.

       4             Those are the advanced-placement exams

       5      delivered by the college board.

       6             You absolutely can, but they must be

       7      developmentally appropriate.

       8             You know, 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds can

       9      emotionally handle the stress that comes along with

      10      taking a high-stakes test.

      11             They're preparing to go out into the world.

      12             That's acceptable, that's rational, that

      13      makes sense; that's developmentally appropriate.

      14             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  So do you believe that all

      15      Regents are high-stakes tests?

      16             TODD HATHAWAY:  Absolutely.

      17             They're college -- they're graduation

      18      requirements.

      19             You can't get any much higher stakes than

      20      that, than by saying it's a graduation requirement.

      21             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay, so are there -- just

      22      take your district:

      23             Now, you have three kids.

      24             I'm listening very carefully.

      25             TODD HATHAWAY:  Yes.







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       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  All right?

       2             Do you -- are there any tests that are not

       3      high-stakes?

       4             TODD HATHAWAY:  That are not high-stakes?

       5             You have formative assessments that we

       6      give -- that I give on weekly or daily basis, where

       7      I'm looking for students to form my instruction.

       8             Then at the end of the year, at the end of a

       9      unit, I'll give some of those assessments, to

      10      understand, Where are we now?

      11             And I can give you a clear example for that.

      12             Currently, in my regular Global 2 class,

      13      I just completed the Age of Revolutions.

      14             We dealt with the French Revolution.

      15             And throughout there, I give formative

      16      assessments: I give homework assignments, I give

      17      vocabulary quizes.

      18             So I do give tests of that nature.

      19             At the end of the unit, we culminate with an

      20      thematic essay, and it's culminated with a test.

      21             Those are summative assessments.

      22             At the end of the year, in June, they'll take

      23      the --

      24             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You don't consider those

      25      high-stakes?







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       1             TODD HATHAWAY:  No, not at all, because

       2      they're not -- there's no consequence in the nature

       3      of -- to student.

       4             You may score lower, but you're not going to

       5      be placed into a separate program.

       6             You will not be labeled something.

       7             There's room now to improve, and it helps me

       8      to understand, as I go to review for the Regents

       9      exam, how to then spiral my review throughout the

      10      entire year; and, second, how to structure my review

      11      as we approach Memorial Day, into June, how to

      12      prepare for that Regents exam.

      13             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay, so in your -- so

      14      take your district, because, obviously, and you come

      15      at this from a couple of different angles --

      16             TODD HATHAWAY:  Yes, I do.

      17             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  -- not only as a teacher

      18      and a parent, but as a union representative.

      19             TODD HATHAWAY:  Yes.

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  In your school, not to

      21      pick on them in any way, shape, or form, but do

      22      you -- as a matter of collective bargaining, do you

      23      collectively bargain, you know, We're going to now

      24      make a decision that, as part of whatever deal we

      25      come up with, that kids in kindergarten through







                                                                  170
       1      second grade, no tests?

       2             TODD HATHAWAY:  Do we collectively bargain

       3      that?

       4             No, we've not collectively bargain that.

       5             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You don't collectively

       6      bargain tests at all?

       7             TODD HATHAWAY:  We bargain the requirements

       8      as handed down by SED and the enacting laws.

       9             We have -- I know reference was made earlier

      10      to side agreements, et cetera.

      11             To my knowledge, and as a former union

      12      president, that's never happened.

      13             I never engaged in that.

      14             And the speculation, so I find, just

      15      speculation.

      16             That's not reality.

      17             Teachers in districts are forced by 3012-c to

      18      engage in a new APPR regimen that does include test

      19      scores; and, therefore, as part of the enacting

      20      legislation and regulation, districts and local

      21      units must bargain the impact of that and figure out

      22      how to make that work for them.

      23             I've talked to a lot of good parents and

      24      administrators over several years.

      25             We had a -- in the first week of October, we







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       1      had the Summit for Smarter Schools, which I'm a

       2      member of the Partnership for Smarter Schools, and

       3      we had administrators up there lamenting the fact

       4      that we've turned education into data collection;

       5      that administrators are turned from helping lead

       6      instruction to coach teachers, to become clerks,

       7      checking off boxes.

       8             So, we've had to bargain the impact of that.

       9             And I've met, I -- can't think of anybody

      10      that thought it was a very good idea.

      11             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay, I want to make sure

      12      I'm properly understanding.

      13             TODD HATHAWAY:  Sure.

      14             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  So, on the one hand, you

      15      don't collectively bargain testing, but you do

      16      collectively bargain the effects [unintelligible] of

      17      3012-c?

      18             TODD HATHAWAY:  Correct.

      19             So we have to go through and say, the State

      20      requires you use local measures of assessment for

      21      your 20 percent [unintelligible].

      22             And they give you parameters in which you

      23      must operate.

      24             And, therefore, we have to bargain that.

      25             So we have to figure out what's going to be







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       1      acceptable or not.

       2             And for us in my district, we bargain that

       3      that has to be, therefore, a curriculum decision

       4      determined by the teachers, along with the local

       5      administrator -- the building administrator.

       6             For the 20 percent that comes from the growth

       7      measures, that's, either, if you're a 3-to-8

       8      teacher, that comes from SED, so you can -- that's

       9      taken out of there;

      10             If you are not a 3-to-8 ELA or math teacher,

      11      what do you do with those [unintelligible] local

      12      20 points?

      13             And so you have to then bargain the process

      14      of which you're gonna account for that.

      15             How are you gonna go about determining what

      16      measurement tool you're gonna to use?

      17             How are you gonna determine -- who determines

      18      what the proper scoring is for that?

      19             There are all things, and that's all clear --

      20      very clearly delineated in regulation.

      21             There's not a whole lot of wiggle room for

      22      locals to deal with that.

      23             They have to deal with what SED comes down

      24      with.

      25             And the regulations are very strict, and they







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       1      are -- they take a fine-tooth and comb to that.

       2             So the idea that we have these massive

       3      latitude in APPR is a fallacy.

       4             We are very constricted, not necessarily by

       5      law, but -- in the enacted law, but by, necessarily,

       6      the regulation handed down by SED.

       7             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay.

       8             Gentlemen, thank you very much.

       9             Appreciate your time.

      10             And we are going to now go to

      11      Scott G. Martzloff, superintendent of

      12      Williamsville Central Schools.

      13             Scott's six-foot-eleven so he gets the whole

      14      table to himself.

      15                  [Laughter.]

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  And he's also a parent.

      17             He told us yesterday, second-, fourth-, and

      18      fifth-grader, so if he runs out, you know there's a

      19      good reason.

      20             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Well, thank you,

      21      Senator, and I thank all of you for allowing me to

      22      testify today.

      23             I do have to say that I was not able to find

      24      a seat that I could fit in within this venue, so,

      25      perhaps that can be looked at for a future session.







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       1             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  There's one right there.

       2             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  I'm sorry?

       3             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  There's one right there.

       4             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  There's a big chair there.

       5                  [Laughter.]

       6             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  It was in the corner.

       7             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Did you steal that from

       8      my office?

       9                  [Laughter.]

      10             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  But thank you for

      11      allowing me to present information relative to the

      12      Regents Reform Agenda and assessing our progress.

      13             My name is Scott G. Martzloff.

      14             I'm superintendent of schools in the

      15      Williamsville Central School District, a suburban

      16      district here in the Buffalo area of slightly more

      17      than 10,000 students.

      18             As Senator Flanagan mentioned, I am also a

      19      parent of a second-grader, a fourth-grader, and a

      20      fifth-grader, so I have had opportunity to

      21      experience this firsthand of what we are doing as it

      22      relates to education.

      23             The two major ideas about the Regents Reform

      24      Agenda is, first of all, it is an unfunded mandate

      25      during extremely difficult fiscal times.







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       1             If you talk to any superintendent in the

       2      state of New York, they will relay that information

       3      to you about what a challenge it is to implement all

       4      of this in a very quick time period during a time

       5      when we're trying to hold on to our math teachers,

       6      our English teachers, our second-grade teachers;

       7      whatever it may be.

       8             And, overall, I think the second point, is

       9      that it's been relatively rushed with somewhat of a

      10      dismissiveness, from feedback from educators and

      11      feedback from parents.

      12             That greatly concerns me, and I'll get to

      13      more about that in a moment.

      14             However, there are many positives as part of

      15      the Regents Reform Agenda.

      16             Certainly, more rigor and challenge in the

      17      curriculum is a good thing.

      18             Wherever you can add that in, and have higher

      19      expectations for students, I think that's very

      20      positive.

      21             Our teachers in our school district have

      22      collaborated and planned, with our administrators,

      23      for the past three years, and have done some amazing

      24      work, as required by the Reform Agenda.

      25             I like the greater focus on informational







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       1      texts, which demands science and social studies are

       2      taught at a higher level at a younger age, where

       3      students have to find evidence to support a claim.

       4             This helps to create better critical-thinkers

       5      in our young people.

       6             There's, obviously, a focus here on

       7      curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and I think

       8      that's a good thing.

       9             That's where our time and energy, we should

      10      be spending it on curriculum, instruction, and

      11      assessment.

      12             That's what we're here for.

      13             There's more instructional conversations

      14      taking place now than ever before.

      15             Our principals are becoming instructional

      16      leaders.

      17             They're doing at least two observations of

      18      all of our teachers each and every school year.

      19             In the past, prior to the Regents Reform

      20      Agenda, that would take place once every three years

      21      for a tenured teacher.

      22             So having that ongoing dialogue has been

      23      positive.

      24             In addition to that, we have a selected

      25      rubric that we use.







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       1             We use the Thoughtful Classroom rubric, by

       2      Silver & Strong, that's approved by the

       3      New York State Education Department.

       4             That has provided a common language for our

       5      teachers and our administrators in discussing

       6      instruction and discussing best practice for

       7      teaching and learning.

       8             I also want to say that the resources from

       9      the New York State Education Department have

      10      generally been of a good quality.

      11             We have -- we're lucky in Williamsville, we

      12      have our own network team that attends trainings in

      13      Albany, at different times, and those have been

      14      found to be positive and helpful as we look to

      15      implement the Regents Reform Agenda, as are many of

      16      the items on the EngageNY website have also been

      17      found to be helpful for our school district as we

      18      look to implement this.

      19             Some of the areas for concern, this might

      20      seem like a petty one, but I think that it points to

      21      a bit of the sense of dismissiveness that some

      22      school leaders and teachers and parents have; is

      23      that, during the last year, NYSED changed their

      24      guidance document at least five times.

      25             It's about 135 pages.







                                                                  178
       1             And each time they would change it, they

       2      wouldn't annotate it at all to tell you which parts

       3      had changed.

       4             So, literally, we had to go back through the

       5      entire document over again.

       6             And I'm not saying this to whine or to

       7      complain, but we've brought this small point up to

       8      the State Education Department before, with no

       9      change.

      10             Which to me, if I did that to my school

      11      board --

      12             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Scott, may I just inquire?

      13             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Sure.

      14             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I want to make sure

      15      I understood you correctly.

      16             Did you say NYSED or NYSUT?

      17             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Excuse me.

      18             NYSED.

      19             New York State Education Department.

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay, I just wanted to

      21      clarify.

      22             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  It's their -- it's not

      23      NYSUT.

      24             It's NYSED.

      25             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  There's a lot of credit







                                                                  179
       1      and blame going on around here.

       2             I just want to make sure we're going to the

       3      right players.

       4                  [Laughter.]

       5             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  (Indicating.)

       6             So --

       7             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  SED.

       8             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Yes, SED.

       9             I'll leave it at that.

      10             So this made it difficult for us to find the

      11      changes to, let alone, implement the changes, and

      12      took a tremendous amount of hard work by our

      13      administrators.

      14             The second thing you mentioned about the

      15      volume of assessments, it is quite high.

      16             It's difficult to calculate from kindergarten

      17      to twelfth grade because, when students get to

      18      high school, they're taking different courses,

      19      different electives.

      20             Some students take more Regents exams than

      21      other students.

      22             But the point is, there's a lot of time being

      23      spent on assessment.

      24             If you look at just the 3-through-8

      25      assessment in third grade, for example, those tests







                                                                  180
       1      got longer, slightly longer, over a three-day

       2      period; and, at the same time, students were given a

       3      shorter amount of time to complete them.

       4             So it begs the question of:

       5             Is this a test on what a student knows and is

       6      able to do, or is this a test on how quickly a

       7      student can find information in the text, or -- for

       8      example, and be able to complete the questions in an

       9      accurate manner?

      10             We processed over 70,000 bubble sheets in the

      11      spring-assessment period last year alone.

      12             We also had to create pre- and post-tests for

      13      185 different courses or grade levels.

      14             This also results in what is my biggest bone

      15      of contention with the Regents Reform Agenda, is a

      16      loss of quality instructional time with teachers and

      17      students.

      18             This is also aggravated by the fact that our

      19      students miss out on instruction from their teachers

      20      due to the fact that, in order to do this right, we

      21      have to provide teachers with training during the

      22      schoolday.

      23             So when we're doing that, we're providing our

      24      children with a substitute teacher way too much.

      25             We need to prepare these teachers through







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       1      APPR training, professional-development

       2      opportunities related to the Common Core and the

       3      Regents Reform Agenda, rubric training, curriculum

       4      writing, assessment writing, assessment scoring, and

       5      other areas.

       6             Our students are best taught by our

       7      first-team teachers, our best teachers, not by

       8      substitutes, and this is one of my biggest areas of

       9      concern, as I've mentioned.

      10             The other item is the cost.

      11             We've spent in Williamsville over

      12      a million dollars so far in implementing the

      13      New York State Regents Reform Agenda, with an offset

      14      of slightly more than $74,000 over a three-year

      15      period.

      16             So some of my recommendations, and I hope

      17      that you take them into account:

      18             Is for more local control; more flexibility

      19      from these mandates, including funding flexibility

      20      for how we apply things like textbook-aid,

      21      software-aid, hardware, and library-aid categories.

      22             The idea to eliminate the gap-elimination

      23      adjustment that the Senate put forward, over a

      24      three-year period, I think is a very positive thing

      25      for all school districts in the state of New York.







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       1             I would also encourage our Legislature to

       2      look to districts to innovate.

       3             That's what the twenty-first century is going

       4      to demand of our young people.

       5             Find ways to encourage districts to innovate

       6      through mobile-learning devices that better engage

       7      students.

       8             Flip classrooms with screen casts.

       9             Science, technology, engineering, and math

      10      opportunities at a younger age, beginning in

      11      elementary school.

      12             A greater focus on art, music, and physical

      13      education.

      14             I know my son, who's in second grade, would

      15      really thrive on the ability to attend

      16      physical education each and every single day.

      17             Foreign-language instruction beginning in

      18      kindergarten.

      19             This was recommended in 1983 as "A Nation at

      20      Risk," and 30 years later, here we are, still

      21      talking about, How come we can't make that happen?

      22             After all, we do live in a global society,

      23      with international competition, where students from

      24      other countries graduate, 65 percent of them are

      25      bilingual or multilingual.







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       1             In the United States, it's only 9 percent.

       2             Encourage more students to take challenging

       3      advanced-placement courses.

       4             The U.S. Department of Education study

       5      indicated that students who merely take an

       6      advanced-placement course have a 50 percent greater

       7      likelihood of finishing college in four years, based

       8      on their exposure to a more rigorous curriculum and

       9      the confidence that that they builds in our young

      10      people.

      11             I would also encourage you to find ways to

      12      provide our high school students with the ability to

      13      take a college course on a college campus at no cost

      14      to a student or their family.

      15             Lastly, let's not forget about the social,

      16      emotional well-being, and the physical safety of our

      17      students.

      18             Our students are walking through our doors

      19      with more and more needs, including family

      20      breakdowns, loss of employment by a parent, abuse,

      21      neglect, et cetera.

      22             Our schools need to do a better job helping

      23      our students through these kinds of traumas.

      24             I've said from the beginning, since this has

      25      all started with the Regents Reform Agenda, we are







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       1      building the plane while we are flying it.

       2             I would say, let's take a year to step back,

       3      assess progress, look at our needs, and see if the

       4      plane can even still fly before making the next

       5      ill-advised, instantaneous change to our education

       6      system.

       7             Thank you for the opportunity to testify

       8      today, and I would appreciate any questions you

       9      might have.

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Senator Ranzenhofer.

      11             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Thank you,

      12      Dr. Martzloff.

      13             I appreciate your thoughtful comments, both

      14      pro and con, on the Reform Agenda.

      15             And I guess the first question I have is,

      16      I mean, I guess the sense is that, I think the

      17      Common Core is good, we need to slow it down a

      18      little bit.

      19             Are you seeing in your school districts some

      20      of the other comments about, kids in third grade and

      21      fourth grade, are they stressing out, I guess, for

      22      lack of a better term?

      23             Do they appreciate the nature of these exams?

      24             And are they -- are you seeing and hearing

      25      from your teachers and your parents that these kids







                                                                  185
       1      are stressing out, and it's having -- obviously, if

       2      you're stressing out, it's having an adverse effect,

       3      but there's a lot of distress associated with that?

       4             Are you seeing that in your district?

       5             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  We do have some of our

       6      young people who are extremely stressed in

       7      grades 3 through 8.

       8             We've had students that have broken down,

       9      crying, upset.

      10             I try to take the approach as a parent, with

      11      my own children, that it's not that big a deal,

      12      because at the end of the day, the 3-through-8

      13      testing, it doesn't mean anything to the education

      14      of my children.

      15             What will mean something to their future, is

      16      when they get to eighth grade and start taking

      17      credit-bearing courses, such as Algebra and

      18      earth science and foreign language, that lead to a

      19      transcript for a high school diploma, which will

      20      determine where they can go to college, and the rest

      21      of their life.

      22             So, I try to advise parents, when they

      23      contact me about this, to take a more low-key

      24      approach; however, sometimes that's very challenging

      25      for our children.







                                                                  186
       1             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Okay.

       2             And, obviously, you know, before the agenda

       3      was put into place, you know, third-graders were

       4      still taking end-of-the-year exams.

       5             Has the stress level increased as a result of

       6      these new exams, or there's just the same stress

       7      over different exams?

       8             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Yeah, I don't know if

       9      I could speak to that with any type of accuracy.

      10             I mean, anecdotally, you tend to hear more

      11      that there's a lot more stress.

      12             Whether that means there is more stress, is

      13      difficult to measure that.

      14             I think there are kids that do get upset with

      15      taking any type of assessment or test.

      16             And I think the whole notion and the

      17      attention of, "These are high-stakes tests, these

      18      are very, very important," not only drives their

      19      stress level up, but that of their parents as well,

      20      and then the parent puts more pressure on the child.

      21             And the teacher puts more pressure on the

      22      children as well, because they are now connected to

      23      the teacher's evaluation.

      24             And so, all in all, there's a lot more

      25      pressure than there has been in the past.







                                                                  187
       1             SENATOR RANZENHOFER:  Okay, I probably could

       2      ask you another 20 questions, but in interest of

       3      everyone else who wants to ask questions, and

       4      testify, I'll cut it off there.

       5             But, thank you very much again.

       6             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Thank you, Senator.

       7             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Scott, just one quick

       8      question, following un on what I asked

       9      Mr. Hathaway.

      10             On the testing, do you -- what component of

      11      that, if at all, do you collectively bargain with

      12      your teachers?

      13             SCOTT G. MARTZLOFF:  Well, generally, you

      14      know, it's the 20 percent.

      15             We've tried to go to more of a state-provided

      16      growth measure, versus having so many individual

      17      SLOs within our school districts.

      18             So, to your point, there is parts of this

      19      that are collectively bargained, and there are parts

      20      of it that are local decisions.

      21             However, there does tend to be, in order to

      22      have a good APPR plan, a number of different

      23      assessments.

      24             For example, last year, we did do pre- and

      25      post-assessments in physical education; we did pre-







                                                                  188
       1      and post-assessments in music and in art; so, in

       2      those areas.

       3             We've tried to get away from that this year,

       4      and for the future.

       5             We've actually eliminated 19 different

       6      pretests at the high school level, for example.

       7             So, we are trying to be sensitive to that, to

       8      restore more balance, more instructional time for

       9      our teachers and our students, but that's going to

      10      be an ongoing challenge.

      11             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay.

      12             Thank you very much.

      13             We are going to -- based on technology, we're

      14      gonna take a -- roughly, a five-minute break,

      15      because we have to change the tape.

      16             And, we appreciate everyone's continued

      17      patience.

      18                  [Pause in proceedings.]

      19                  [The hearing proceeded, as follows:]

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay, so we're going to

      21      get started again.

      22             All right, so our next group,

      23      Dr. Paul Vermette from Niagara University, and

      24      Preethi --

      25             Am I saying it correctly?







                                                                  189
       1             PREETHI GOVINDARAJ:  Yep.

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  -- Govindaraj?

       3             PREETHI GOVINDARAJ:  Yes.

       4             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay.

       5             I'm trying.

       6             -- from the partnership -- co-founder of

       7      Minerva.

       8             I apologize.

       9             PREETHI GOVINDARAJ:  Yes.

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Both affiliated with

      11      Partnership for Smarter Schools.

      12             We know you had a forum up here a couple of

      13      weeks ago, so --

      14             PREETHI GOVINDARAJ:  We did, thank you.

      15             And thank you for having us today.

      16             The Partnership of Smarter Schools represents

      17      a variety of individuals -- parents, community

      18      members, taxpayers -- who actually have no

      19      connection or relationship to the schools, other

      20      than having a vested interest in seeing the

      21      resources allocated in the most productive manner

      22      possible.

      23             And the summit that organized about

      24      2700 people, who came to the Kleinhans Music Hall in

      25      the city of Buffalo, was all these different







                                                                  190
       1      constituents coming together to voice their concern

       2      about testing.

       3             And the partnership's position with respect

       4      to the Regents Reform Agenda is smart reform.

       5             The partnership believes very much in having

       6      higher standards, evaluations, assessments, but we

       7      need to get it right.

       8             Consider, for example, just assessments.

       9             And in the interest of time, let's just look

      10      at ELA assessments, as how they're conducted in

      11      college in comparison to K-12.

      12             Now, in college, as ELA students, we have an

      13      entire semester to study a text, and that's what we

      14      are assessed on.

      15             In K-12, we have 60 seconds, maybe, to read a

      16      text, and then we're suddenly assessed on it.

      17             In college, we are assessed on the actual

      18      text that we study throughout the semester.

      19             In K-12, we are assessed on text we may never

      20      have seen before; most likely have never seen

      21      before.

      22             In college, we read an entire text, from

      23      beginning to end, in context, which means we're

      24      reading the scholarship, the criticism, everything

      25      that surrounds the central text.







                                                                  191
       1             In K-12, in the assessments, it's one

       2      isolated passage from a larger text that we read and

       3      we're suddenly assessed on.

       4             In college, when we're assessed on text, we

       5      study this with our peers, with our professors, we

       6      dialogue about it, we have discussions about it,

       7      but, in K-12, there's no talking to anybody when

       8      we're being assessed on a text, it's all individual.

       9             So if we are saying we need assessments in

      10      the name of being college- and career-ready, we need

      11      to get assessments right so we can actually simulate

      12      the work that goes on in college, instead of taking

      13      us in a completely different path.

      14             And to this point, humanities professors

      15      frequently lament that it takes a semester or longer

      16      to help young students undo the testing mentality

      17      because they're not prepared for college.

      18             And so this is a very important issue that is

      19      also linked with capturing better data, and

      20      capturing better evaluations, as well as capturing

      21      professional development that is much more aligned

      22      with the kind of work we do in college.

      23             For example, in college, when we give an

      24      assessment to students, these include various

      25      measures; sometimes writing, sometimes







                                                                  192
       1      presentations, and a combination of these.

       2             But when they're given, there -- it's given

       3      in a timely manner that allows immediate feedback

       4      from practitioner to student, so that the student

       5      can assess the work that they have just done, and

       6      improve it through the course of a semester or the

       7      course of a whole year.

       8             In K-12, there is no immediate feedback given

       9      from teacher to student, sometimes there's no

      10      feedback at all given from practitioner to student,

      11      simply because the teachers don't have the data

      12      themselves to be able to share with the kids.

      13             And, so, there is no opportunity for the

      14      student to improve their performance based on what

      15      they have just given or created.

      16             So this is another important issue.

      17             As well as, capturing better evaluations,

      18      better professional development, in college, we

      19      frequently evaluate college professors based on

      20      their analysis of a text, the way they teach the

      21      text to the students.

      22             It's never based on a standardized test

      23      score.

      24             But this allows the college practitioner much

      25      more high-quality data, as well as immediate data,







                                                                  193
       1      so that they understand how they are teaching the

       2      students at the college level.

       3             In K-12, if we're giving teachers data based

       4      on the test score, it's actually very disconnected

       5      from what the teacher is doing on a daily basis.

       6             So this is another area of reform that we

       7      believe in.

       8             Most importantly, as well, that all of these

       9      issues come back to how we support the practitioner

      10      at the college level in comparison to the K-12

      11      level.

      12             At the college level, we give our professors

      13      time and resources to study their content areas

      14      deeply and effectively.

      15             So if you have a college professor who is

      16      teaching, for example, a text on

      17      Nathaniel Hawthorne, they have the resources to go

      18      and attend conferences that discuss

      19      Nathaniel Hawthorne or that text.

      20             But in K-12, even though we are expecting,

      21      with the new standards, teachers to understand their

      22      content areas deeply, the professional development

      23      is usually test-based.

      24             So, we are helping teachers understand how to

      25      administer a test and how to collect data; whereas,







                                                                  194
       1      we are not really supporting their learning needs,

       2      even though this is what they are supposed to be

       3      evaluated on.

       4             And, so, we think that all of this impacts

       5      their college-readiness, which it does, but what a

       6      lot of us don't realize is that it also impacts

       7      their career-readiness.

       8             Now, we polled executives from many

       9      Fortune 500s -- General Motors, American Airlines,

      10      International House of Pancakes, a variety of

      11      different multi-national corporations -- asking

      12      them, "What are the most useful skills that incoming

      13      employees can give to you?"

      14             And, the number one response, was the ability

      15      to develop an argument, and persuade.

      16             And how this is accomplished is through

      17      writing, through presentation, through other

      18      research-based means.

      19             Not one named standardized test scores.

      20             In fact, not one said you take standardized

      21      tests in one of these professions.

      22             And they said the standardized-testing

      23      mentality actually undermines the ability of the

      24      incoming employee to perform in the most optimal

      25      way.







                                                                  195
       1             So they're echoing what humanities professors

       2      in college are echoing, and now we've had decades of

       3      research telling us this as well.

       4             So, our position, just to reiterate, we

       5      believe in a Reform Agenda; we just believe in

       6      smarter reform, and so that means aligning

       7      assessments much more closely with the work that is

       8      actually performed in college, not taking us away

       9      from that.

      10             We believe in supporting professional

      11      development to help the practitioner with the daily

      12      needs of the classroom, that is, learning and

      13      content; not testing-related.

      14             We believe in capturing evaluations based on

      15      the work that takes place throughout the year; not a

      16      disconnected standardized test that has nothing with

      17      what was taught during the year.

      18             And we also believe in capturing the data

      19      that is aligned with the work that is taking place

      20      through the months, so that we use that to inform

      21      our instruction and assessment, and that's what we

      22      share with the parents.

      23             Now, I'm a parent of a 3-year-old and a

      24      2-year-old, and, it matters not to me, what my

      25      teacher -- how my teacher performed on a







                                                                  196
       1      standardized testing evaluation, how my students

       2      performed, how my kids perform on standardized

       3      tests.

       4             It matters much more to me what my kids were

       5      learning on a week-to-week basis, so that I can help

       6      them on a week-to-week basis as well.

       7             So we need to support our system to allow for

       8      this to happen.

       9             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Doctor.

      10             DR. PAUL VERMETTE:  My role in the

      11      partnership comes from two hats:

      12             One is, I'm supporter of good schools and

      13      getting testing right.

      14             The second is my role at Niagara University

      15      where I've been preparing secondary teachers for a

      16      long, long, long time.

      17             My written testimony starts with a semi-fake

      18      multiple-choice question for you guys.

      19             And it's interesting, because if I gave a

      20      multiple-choice question to the people in the

      21      gathering here, a quarter would guess right, just

      22      statistically.

      23             So one-fourth of these people would get it

      24      right; and there is no question.

      25             So that doesn't make any sense, unless you







                                                                  197
       1      think, well, if there was a question, then we could

       2      see what they did wrong, but it's kept secret 3-8.

       3             The testing is kept secret 3-8, so there can

       4      be no instructional improvement.

       5             Tests have a great value.

       6             Testing, the question you asked earlier of

       7      Mr. Hathaway, all of those issues, but it depends

       8      on how the teacher uses the test to improve the

       9      learning.

      10             That's absolutely out of the 3-8 system here.

      11             It doesn't exist, of course, in 9-12, but

      12      it's -- even in 9-12, it's a final evaluation.

      13             There is no reteaching of that stuff.

      14             So we get a grade, the kid gets a score, and

      15      we go on to the next year.

      16             My second point mirrors one of Preethi's

      17      point.

      18             If you ask business what they want, they want

      19      teamwork, work ethic, punctuality.

      20             "New York State Teaching Standards," which is

      21      a great, great document, and I thank anybody, this

      22      is the best one on earth, okay, we should use it.

      23             And it doesn't say in there, "and will

      24      produce great test scores," because the tests could

      25      be disconnected.







                                                                  198
       1             We don't know, we can't see them.

       2             Again, 9-12 we can see them; 3-8 we can't.

       3             So we have a great document to guide

       4      teachers.

       5             And my young teachers from Niagara, we know

       6      what is good teaching, and we know what the State

       7      thinks good teaching is, but there is a tremendous

       8      disconnect between those two statements and the

       9      testing.

      10             Third thing, and then I'll be quiet:

      11             I'm a scholar, I apologize, I'm an academic;

      12      and I don't look like either.

      13             You know, I've been around this a long time.

      14             I'm an old football coach.

      15             Okay?

      16             So you start looking at the research.

      17             You would think -- I mean, no offense to the

      18      Commissioner, but he thinks of himself as a

      19      researcher.

      20             And when you start to look at the research on

      21      how formal programs of standardized testing have

      22      affected graduation rates, dropout rates, success in

      23      college;

      24             The SAT, question earlier, only predicts fall

      25      scores, first year.







                                                                  199
       1             If you leave high school and you go to

       2      college, it will predict your first year.

       3             After that, it's not a predicter.

       4             But things like work ethic, punctuality,

       5      persistence on task, those predict, and we don't

       6      test them.

       7             So, if indeed what happens is there's a

       8      narrowing of the curriculum, because of the testing,

       9      and then we get test data that we can't use, I'm not

      10      sure why we're spending all that money, to tell you

      11      the truth.

      12             And I have to come down on the side of

      13      getting testing right, because we don't have it

      14      right now.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Doctor, two quick

      16      questions.

      17             One, in your opinion, was there a point where

      18      we had testing right?

      19             DR. PAUL VERMETTE:  Grew up in New York.

      20             Can I tell a story?

      21             Is it okay?

      22             I'm real old.

      23             1971 I started teaching.

      24             And I want you to think about that when you

      25      look over there.







                                                                  200
       1             I'm teaching high school in New York in 1971.

       2             The only year I left, I defected, I went to

       3      New Jersey to be a social-studies supervisor, and

       4      I found out later I got hired because New York had

       5      its rigor.

       6             Isn't that kind of nice.

       7             "You guys have those tests, we borrow them."

       8             So, I can make a case for my secondary

       9      candidates.

      10             Mostly, the Regents exams are spot on.

      11             They're tough, they're high-stakes.

      12             You can look at what Mr. Hathaway said, you

      13      can look at the previous years.

      14             They align with the objectives.

      15             That's a big thing in my world, okay:

      16             Here's what we're supposed to be doing;

      17      here's what we're measuring.

      18             So, yeah, and the 3-8 has just -- it's part

      19      of the corporate reform movement to put a number.

      20             If we could do away with the 20 percent of

      21      the APPRs on the test scores, we still have the

      22      80 percent based on this.

      23             The other 80 could be expanded.

      24             That's a plan.

      25             It's kind of interesting, we know, meaning







                                                                  201
       1      SED, and the Board -- the Board of Regents, put this

       2      out.

       3             It's a pretty good document.

       4             Again, it doesn't align, in my judgment,

       5      today.

       6             I don't know about forever, but, for today,

       7      it doesn't align with the testing.

       8             PREETHI GOVINDARAJ:  And if I could echo that

       9      as well, I know from talking with humanities

      10      councils and humanities professors, that when it

      11      comes to standardized testing, they almost always

      12      advocate for something like the SAT II which is

      13      content-based.

      14             And, so, you have expectations of what

      15      content you will be tested on, and it tests your

      16      content knowledge, as well as the skills application

      17      along those tests; whereas, the 3-through-8 is

      18      purely skills-based.

      19             There's no content application at all.

      20             And that is a huge disconnect, because we're

      21      preparing kids in K-12 to be content learners.

      22             And that's what we're doing in college:

      23             We're testing them, we're assessing them, on

      24      content in college.

      25             So a pure skills-based-application approach







                                                                  202
       1      in 3-8 is actually ill-preparing our young ones to

       2      go into college for tomorrow.

       3             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  All right, thank you very

       4      much.

       5             Appreciate it.

       6             DR. PAUL VERMETTE:  Thank you.

       7             Thank you for listening.

       8             Next, the Empire State Supervisors

       9      Administration Association; Mark Beehler and

      10      James Spanbauer, Ryan Schoenfeld.

      11             MARK BEEHLER:  Good afternoon, and thank you.

      12             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Good afternoon.

      13             MARK BEEHLER:  I'm joined, as you mentioned,

      14      by Dr. Schoenfeld here, from North Park Junior

      15      High School in Lockport, and, Mr. Spanbauer from

      16      LaSalle Preparatory School in Niagara Falls.

      17             On behalf of our -- the Empire State

      18      Supervisor and Administrators Association, we'd like

      19      to thank you for this opportunity to provide

      20      testimony.

      21             Mr. Chairman, when you started out this

      22      morning, you mentioned that you had a broad range,

      23      or anticipated a broad range, of testimony from a

      24      broad cross-section, and I think something

      25      interesting is going to happen, or has happened in







                                                                  203
       1      the past hour, which is that you're going to hear

       2      testimony from the administrators association, which

       3      is very similar to that from the teachers

       4      association, and very similar to what you heard from

       5      a superintendent.

       6             And I think that that's very interesting

       7      because, typically, we don't always have the same

       8      views on things, to say the least.

       9             But I would like to take a moment, and in the

      10      sake of time -- or, for the sake of time in the

      11      testimony, simply abbreviate some of my messages to

      12      reinforce what Mr. Hathaway had mentioned.

      13             Assessments, they need to be produced timely,

      14      they need to be diagnostic and useful.

      15             We are not opposed to high-stakes testing,

      16      but they're high-stakes, as your question referred

      17      to, occurs within a continuum.

      18             And we understand that, in some cases,

      19      students must be taking high-stakes tests.

      20             Regents exams, SATs, those are high-stakes

      21      tests.

      22             Sometimes they're developmentally

      23      appropriate, but we need to be administering these

      24      at an appropriate level.

      25             And I think what's happening is, that we have







                                                                  204
       1      exceeded the threshold of appropriateness in some

       2      cases.

       3             And we're seeing that.

       4             We're seeing that with my own children; as

       5      Dr. Martzloff stated, with his children; and we're

       6      seeing that in our schools, where kids are coming in

       7      exceptionally anxious.

       8             Dr. Martzloff would probably not want to be

       9      quoted as saying to his daughter, "The tests don't

      10      mean anything," but I said those exact same words to

      11      my fifth-grader who was, quite literally, sick on

      12      the day of her fourth-grade ELA, and I had to sit

      13      down because she's a 95 percent student.

      14             She wants to be a 100 percent student.

      15             And when she came back after the first day of

      16      the ELAs, I, quite literally, had to say to her,

      17      "Look it, honey, I just need you to relax.

      18             This test isn't that" -- "isn't" -- excuse

      19      me, it's even hard for me to say an as educator --

      20      "it isn't that important."

      21             In addition, you have some very positive

      22      things that have come about.

      23             You're not going to hear us say, throw out

      24      the Common Core.

      25             You're not going hear us say, that all of the







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       1      components of the APPR are ineffective.

       2             As a matter of fact, one of the components,

       3      which we haven't really talked about, but have been

       4      used sometimes as -- in what I would suggest is an

       5      inappropriate manner, are the growth scores.

       6             Teachers in New York State are used to

       7      working under No Child Left Behind.

       8             We have an assessment, we -- our goal is to

       9      have our students achieve a level of proficiency.

      10             Typically that's a Level 3, it's passing the

      11      exam.

      12             It realistically goes back to the beginning

      13      of time when teachers taught and students took

      14      tests, and the goal was for the student to pass the

      15      test.

      16             Growth scores are a brand new metric, and

      17      their usefulness is being sort of polluted in the

      18      fact that they are being assigned to teachers as a

      19      measurement of their effectiveness.

      20             A growth score doesn't necessarily measure

      21      achievement.

      22             It measures learning.

      23             And those are two different metrics.

      24             We're not used to that in education, to be

      25      honest with you.







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       1             As a matter of fact, in the testimony, you'll

       2      hear me give the example of the difference.

       3             If I were to ask the three of the Senators to

       4      arrange themselves according to height, I may come

       5      to the conclusion that Mr. Chairman is taller than

       6      Senator Grisanti, but that does not in any way tell

       7      me how tall Mr. Chairman is.

       8             Our system, with the APPR and the use of

       9      growth scores, is designed to -- no matter what the

      10      level of achievement; in other words, how well the

      11      students do, we will always have teachers who are

      12      going to be developing and ineffective.

      13             That growth measurement, which we're saying

      14      measures teachers' effectiveness, in fact, does not.

      15             It simply ranks the teachers.

      16             And while that seems like it's a trivial

      17      difference, it's exceptionally important.

      18             The other component of my written testimony

      19      that I would like to touch base on, is simply the

      20      loss of local control that local education agencies

      21      and school boards are beginning to experience.

      22             As a part of the network team for West Seneca

      23      schools, in Albany, we've been told, that in the

      24      past, we have always had tests that held students to

      25      high expectations, and that State Ed has high







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       1      expectations.

       2             And now, with the development of the modules

       3      which meet the expectations, or they'll tell us

       4      that, of the Common Core, they're also high support.

       5             But what we're finding is that, this level of

       6      high expectations and high support, is, in fact,

       7      causing districts, especially districts who are

       8      tight on resources, to simply say:

       9             I need to have something that's aligned to

      10      the Common Core.

      11             I'm taking this module, and I no longer have

      12      the control that I used to have over the

      13      instruction, because the modules not only tell us

      14      what to teach, but also, specifically, how to teach

      15      it, and we're losing control.

      16             They are not required, we will acknowledge

      17      that, but, they are -- they are one of the only

      18      resources at this point in time that are aligned.

      19             And in the process, operationally, we are

      20      beginning to lose control over, not only what we're

      21      teaching, but also how we're teaching it.

      22             One other component that I just wanted to

      23      touch base on with regard to the APPR, is the use of

      24      those growth scores -- and my testimony speaks to

      25      this a little bit more -- with regard to the







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       1      disparity between teachers who are assigned a growth

       2      score by New York State, and those teachers who can

       3      create an SLO.

       4             This is a significant inequity in the

       5      existing APPR.

       6             If I have students who take the

       7      3-through-8 -- or I should say, 4-through-8

       8      assessments, because I have to be in fourth grade to

       9      get a growth score and the teacher gets an assigned

      10      growth score then, that is significantly more

      11      rigorous, typically, and I do not have any influence

      12      over that score.

      13             For teachers who can develop locally a

      14      student learning objective which essentially

      15      replaces that growth score, I can establish my own

      16      metrics for determining student growth, I have input

      17      likely into the assessments which are created.

      18             And we're starting to see this -- or, we have

      19      seen this throughout the state, where teachers who

      20      have growth scores assigned by the State are being

      21      measured by a different metric than those who can

      22      create things locally.

      23             And, honestly, we knew that.

      24             Our model, which is developed based on the

      25      Tennessee model for value-added or growth, the







                                                                  209
       1      Tennessee value -- or, the Tennessee value-added

       2      assessment system, the governor of Tennessee,

       3      two years ago, commissioned a study to determine

       4      what the effects were.

       5             And that is one of the effects that we saw in

       6      Tennessee, and we're seeing that now.

       7             And what's happening is, it's invalidating

       8      some of the APPR results and causing, essentially, a

       9      significant degree of mistrust, and, like I said

      10      before, an inequity between the measurements by

      11      which our teachers are being measured.

      12             The other piece that --

      13             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You know what?

      14             Let me interrupt you on that point.

      15             Who's coming out ahead: the people who are

      16      getting measured on the growth scores or the people

      17      who are getting measured based on the SLOs?

      18             MARK BEEHLER:  Typically, the people measure

      19      on SLOs, because they have input into the

      20      development of their own assessments which are being

      21      created.

      22             You know, one of the questions that we

      23      talked about -- or, that came up with regard to

      24      3012-c and the APPR, is all of the tests.

      25             And you've had a difficult time,







                                                                  210
       1      I understand, getting an answer to that question,

       2      "How many tests are actually being administered?"

       3             And that's difficult because, 3012-c

       4      requires -- or, up until last year, it required a

       5      pretest and a posttest for every single teacher,

       6      who -- every single teacher, and then those tests

       7      were administered to at least 50 percent of that

       8      teacher's work -- student load.

       9             So, in other words, if I'm a

      10      physical-education-teacher, I had to have pretests

      11      and posttests that were administered to at least

      12      50 percent of my students, likely in September, and

      13      then again in June.

      14             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Let me just, on that

      15      point, because I think I had part of this dialogue

      16      with Mr. Hathaway:

      17             Are you talking about the statute, or are you

      18      talking about a regulation promulgated by SED?

      19             MARK BEEHLER:  I'm talking about an SED

      20      regulation.

      21             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  That says it requires you

      22      to do pre- and post-testing?

      23             MARK BEEHLER:  Yeah, up until this year, it

      24      did.

      25             And I will acknowledge this fact:







                                                                  211
       1             This year, in August, a new regulation -- or,

       2      guidance document came out, that stated we no longer

       3      have to give pretests, but we do have to establish

       4      targets.

       5             And in some subjects, while it states that we

       6      don't have to administer a pretest, we need to have

       7      a benchmark.

       8             In other words, we need to set a target for

       9      the students' growth.

      10             Well, it doesn't tell us that we have to

      11      create a pretest, but I need to have some form of

      12      measurement to set that target.

      13             So, if I'm a phys-ed teacher, if I'm a music

      14      teacher, if I'm a health teacher, especially if I'm

      15      a kindergarten, first-, or second-grade teacher who

      16      doesn't have much data on my students, I need to

      17      administer some type of an assessment so I know

      18      where they are when they're walking in.

      19             So it doesn't -- this year, it does not

      20      specifically say that it does, but, operationally,

      21      we need to begin to administer pretests.

      22             So, in West Seneca, 46,000 pre- and

      23      post-tests that we administered last year to about

      24      7700 students.

      25             Those are created in the district at an







                                                                  212
       1      exceptional cost.

       2             They cannot be created or corrected by

       3      someone who had a vested interest, so, the teachers

       4      could not actually correct them themselves, nor

       5      could they create them.

       6             So, logistically, and, obviously, for the --

       7      you know, that sounds great on paper, that we don't

       8      want the test creating them -- or the teachers

       9      creating their own tests or correcting them, but,

      10      operationally, that becomes an administrative

      11      nightmare when that happens in every single subject

      12      for virtually every teacher.

      13             Senator Grisanti had mentioned earlier about

      14      the collection of data.

      15             And one of the points with regard to loss of

      16      local control, especially being the

      17      chief information officer, that I would like to

      18      bring up, is that we have inBloom.

      19             We've heard about inBloom.

      20             There's been a relatively significant amount

      21      of discussion amongst some of the data folks in the

      22      state about inBloom.

      23             We see it on some of the blogs.

      24             I'm not going to speak, one way or the other,

      25      but I do just want to bring up some interesting







                                                                  213
       1      facts about what's happening.

       2             The information from schools transfers from

       3      local schools, it works its way to regional

       4      information centers.

       5             This is a process that has been going on for

       6      years.

       7             Let's see, 11 years ago, I was the

       8      chief information officer for West Seneca schools.

       9             At that point in time, I had a simple

      10      database that I needed to send for elementary and

      11      secondary reports.

      12             Right now, it has become significantly more

      13      sophisticated.

      14             Our student management system, which houses

      15      everything from student demographic information,

      16      attendance, discipline, schedules, that's referred

      17      to as our "student management system."

      18             Periodically, usually once a month, data from

      19      there goes up to our regional information center,

      20      which is a -- well, they refer to it as a "RIC."

      21             How many are there?

      22             It's a -- well, and then it will transfer

      23      from there, up to what's called the

      24      "data warehouse."

      25             And this gets kinds of technical, but it's







                                                                  214
       1      kind of important, because the question about where

       2      inBloom and, essentially, 5 to 15 million dollars

       3      goes, is key in understanding of where this

       4      information is coming from, and the fact that we

       5      already have it.

       6             So we take our information from the student

       7      management system, it goes up to the regional

       8      information center into a collection port called

       9      "level zero."

      10             At that point, we reconcile all sorts of

      11      other data.

      12             Special-ed data comes in.

      13             Family -- or, food-service data comes in so

      14      we can identify students who have free and reduced

      15      lunch.

      16             I know this is boring, but this is actually

      17      what I have to do every day, so, to me, it's kind of

      18      exciting.

      19                  [Laughter.]

      20             MARK BEEHLER:  All right, it all comes in,

      21      I have to reconcile this data, as do CIOs and

      22      district data coordinators in every single district.

      23             From that point, it goes on to a data

      24      warehouse.

      25             These are regionally controlled in a regional







                                                                  215
       1      information center, that then pulls in assessment

       2      data.

       3             So I have the ability to take those

       4      assessments that you've heard that we have issues

       5      with, in many cases, and take and be able to pull

       6      out reports that are instructionally illuminating,

       7      is what I like to say.

       8             It helps me guide instruction in the

       9      classroom, and it helps me make curriculum changes

      10      at a district level.

      11             All of the information that I need is already

      12      there.

      13             Several times throughout the year, though,

      14      the State requires reports.

      15             Tomorrow is a big one.

      16             All of the staff evaluation data for our

      17      teachers are required to be submitted to the State.

      18             So they're gonna come in, data from Level 1

      19      goes up to Level 2, our state reporting system.

      20             InBloom, which is a -- I understand it's a

      21      501(c)(3) organization -- has -- or it has been

      22      collecting data from this Level 2.

      23             So all of this data fills up, filters up;

      24      it's coordinated in a line throughout the entire

      25      states.







                                                                  216
       1             It filters up, inBloom takes this data.

       2             Now, part of the Race to the Top agenda

       3      items, is that we are going to be getting a data

       4      dashboard.

       5             We've heard about that.

       6             Many districts already have data dashboards.

       7             It's paid for, and it's promised to be paid

       8      for out, of the Race to the Top grant for the next

       9      two years -- well, one year, one year conditional --

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Mark, you know what?

      11             MARK BEEHLER:  Yep?

      12             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Are your colleagues going

      13      to testify?

      14             Because you need to --

      15             MARK BEEHLER:  Wrap it up?

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  -- wrap it up.

      17             MARK BEEHLER:  Got it.

      18             Okay, so here's the point:

      19             We're being forced to pay, the Race to the

      20      Top funds are being expended at a range of between

      21      2 and 5 dollars per pupil for inBloom to give back

      22      the data that we as a district already have.

      23             I have already taken the data, accumulated

      24      it, cleaned it -- cleaned it up.

      25             The same information that a data dashboard







                                                                  217
       1      can present to me at a district level from my Data 1

       2      warehouse, now has to go up through inBloom, we have

       3      to pay inBloom to get that money -- or, that

       4      information back, it's already my information, and

       5      then have it be presented to me.

       6             The other piece of this is, that information

       7      was never -- we as a district, and I as a parent,

       8      have never provided consent, nor have we been

       9      disclosed, that that information is going to be

      10      leaving our district or the state, to be going to

      11      another entity.

      12             So those are two relatively significant

      13      issues that people like myself, who take data

      14      stewardship and data custodianship, look at as

      15      relatively significant.

      16             It's also another example of our loss of

      17      local control.

      18             All right.

      19             JAMES SPANBAUER:  I'll speak briefly on a --

      20      a little bit about the high school level.

      21             I spent --

      22             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Just a question on that

      23      point, though.

      24             But -- so -- but the testing data that we

      25      just had with the Common Core tests, and it was just







                                                                  218
       1      done, you didn't receive any data back?

       2             MARK BEEHLER:  No.

       3             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  And you don't have the

       4      ability -- you don't have the ability under Race to

       5      the Top, where you're collecting data as you were

       6      before, you couldn't do anything?

       7             MARK BEEHLER:  Right.

       8             So -- and to answer Senator Gallivan's

       9      question from earlier, this year we received the

      10      information later than in the previous years, but we

      11      were required to have a much shorter turnaround

      12      time, from the time it was actually scored to the

      13      time that it was submitted to the State.

      14             So the length of time that the State had that

      15      data before they gave it back to us was longer.

      16             The parent reports actually took longer.

      17             And if you've seen a parent report, it says,

      18      "This is the student level achievement level," and

      19      that's about it.

      20             It is not diagnostic, it's not prescriptive,

      21      it's not instructionally illuminating.

      22             Regional information centers, though, take

      23      that information that's provided at the data -- in

      24      the data warehouse, and then they develop reports.

      25             So at a regional level, we have the







                                                                  219
       1      mechanisms in place, we have the framework in place,

       2      to be providing, and have been receiving from them,

       3      instructionally significant data reports back.

       4             But what we're lacking is that information

       5      from the State.

       6             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Gotcha.

       7             Okay, thank you.

       8             JAMES SPANBAUER:  From the high school

       9      level -- and this is in no disrespect to the

      10      4-to-8 teachers and parents, we hear about

      11      high-stakes testing quite often, and I think the

      12      point was made by -- well by him as a parent, and

      13      Dr. Martzloff, that it's high-stake if you think

      14      it's high-stake, but there's only one person it's

      15      high-stake for at the elementary and the

      16      middle level, and that's the teacher, because that

      17      test that student takes has no significance whether

      18      they're moving on to the next grade level.

      19             Alls it does is place them in AIS services

      20      and provides an evaluation of the teacher.

      21             At the high school level, where the

      22      Common Core is just beginning to be implemented this

      23      year in testing, is when we'll really see what the

      24      high-stakes effect is on students.

      25             What's going to happen is, you're gonna have







                                                                  220
       1      students who take the first Common Core exam this

       2      June, so we're going see the reaction of those

       3      students.

       4             And I think, Senator Gallivan, you mentioned

       5      it earlier about college- and career-ready.

       6             One of things I don't know if we've

       7      accommodated completely, is multiple pathways and

       8      alternative pathways.

       9             No matter who goes through the high schools

      10      now, every student has to take the -- pass the same

      11      five Core Regents exams to earn that diploma;

      12      whether it be special education, whether it be the

      13      highest achiever in that building.

      14             We have students who have different

      15      aptitudes.

      16             We talked earlier about someone who might be

      17      the best electrician in the world.

      18             We, unfortunately, at the high school level,

      19      are forced to pull students out of BOCES programs to

      20      provide them with technical training -- or,

      21      AIS services instead of their technical training in

      22      their senior year of high school; therefore, the

      23      career that they might have found after high school

      24      has been put on hold so we can try to get them

      25      through a testing system that we're forced to







                                                                  221
       1      implement.

       2             So I think those are some of the things.

       3             We're going to see high-stakes testing at the

       4      high school level as we move forward, so I think

       5      it's important that we consider a look at multiple

       6      pathways, not only with the vocational system, but

       7      with special-education students, which I don't know

       8      if we've accommodated fully with this program.

       9             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Okay, thank you.

      10             RYAN SCHOENFELD, Ed.D:  I just want to share

      11      a couple points, and I appreciate the opportunity.

      12             I'm from a small city school district,

      13      Lockport.

      14             I've been there for 20 years.

      15             I've been a practitioner.

      16             I've been an assistant principal of an

      17      elementary building.

      18             I'm the coordinator of kindergarten through

      19      sixth-grade mathematics for the teachers within our

      20      large school district.

      21             So part of this Common Core, and any of the

      22      work and efforts we're carrying out for State Ed and

      23      for the best interests of the children, I'm helping

      24      to lead that; and it started off by Regent Bennett

      25      talking about administrators being important to







                                                                  222
       1      students' success.

       2             We're carrying that.

       3             We are doing what we need to do.

       4             In a small city school, and others around,

       5      administrators are stepping up to do the types of

       6      things they can do to carry this out in the best

       7      interests of children, based on what we know about

       8      what we're doing.

       9             So these things are rolling out.

      10             And we appreciate the assistance, because

      11      what we were doing, when you compare us on a global

      12      market, and I've attended national, international,

      13      conferences, it's true, we don't compete at that

      14      higher level.

      15             So what we're doing doesn't exactly work.

      16             People might not fully agree with it, but we

      17      need to do something that's going to help our kids

      18      prepare for this global network.

      19             The one thing I've learned through my

      20      research, and I see it today within you up there, as

      21      well as our contingent here, it's about

      22      relationships; it's about working with people.

      23             We appreciate you taking the time to be with

      24      us, to listen to us.

      25             Again, you facilitated and worked through







                                                                  223
       1      masterfully, with different contingents sharing

       2      their things, but that's important.

       3             Trust is important.

       4             And we're trusting that the direction we're

       5      going will do better for our children.

       6             Bryk and Schneider did a study in Chicago,

       7      looking at 200 schools, this was in the late 1990s,

       8      for 5 years.

       9             The schools that had relational trust between

      10      teacher and teacher, teacher to student, student to

      11      teacher, principal to teacher, principal to parent;

      12      in all those different manners, the 100 schools that

      13      showed higher performance on test scores were the

      14      ones that had relational trust built into those

      15      environments, and that I think is important to note.

      16             We've talked about all these different

      17      things.

      18             It really comes down to the local

      19      establishments and the districts working with their

      20      people, building upon that trust, so that we can

      21      help our students to be successful.

      22             We're going to carry it out and do what we

      23      need to do, but, for sure, trust is important, and,

      24      obviously, people care.

      25             You know, we don't say it enough in







                                                                  224
       1      education, but as politicians, educators, parents,

       2      we all care, so this conversation is great.

       3             It's trying to come together to do better

       4      things.

       5             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Senator Maziarz would, I'm

       6      sure, associate himself with your comments, and he

       7      is an ardent advocate for Lockport.

       8             MARK BEEHLER:  I'm sure.

       9             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Trust me.

      10             MARK BEEHLER:  I know he is.

      11             So if there's any Q&A?

      12             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Senator Gallivan.

      13             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Mark, going back to the

      14      data flow, is this the same process throughout the

      15      state --

      16             MARK BEEHLER:  Yes, it is.

      17             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  -- as it moves up?

      18             MARK BEEHLER:  Yes.

      19             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  So there's nobody lacking

      20      those --

      21             MARK BEEHLER:  Nope.

      22             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  -- I guess, those

      23      technology resources?

      24             MARK BEEHLER:  Exactly.

      25             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Okay.







                                                                  225
       1             MARK BEEHLER:  So -- and that's -- you know,

       2      that goes to the heart of one of the questions,

       3      "Why is it that we're required to have a statewide

       4      selection process for information that we all, every

       5      single district, already has access to?"

       6             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  I get the question.

       7             MARK BEEHLER:  Right.

       8             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  But I just wanted to make

       9      sure that --

      10             MARK BEEHLER:  Absolutely.

      11             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  -- this was similar across

      12      the state, and not just some -- something that

      13      you're doing in West --

      14             MARK BEEHLER:  No, it is the same -- it is

      15      the process by which we file reports to

      16      New York State Ed.

      17             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  All right, thank you.

      18             MARK BEEHLER:  Certainly.

      19             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Gentlemen, thank you very

      20      much.

      21             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  I've got a quick --

      22             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Oh, I'm sorry.

      23             Senator Grisanti.

      24             I apologize.

      25             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  That's okay.







                                                                  226
       1             And speaking about Senator Maziarz, he's

       2      actually taken World War II veterans to the monument

       3      in Washington today, and you may have saw that, but

       4      he told me to say, you know, thank you for being

       5      here and testifying, and wish he -- he can't be in

       6      two places at once, but that's a trip that he had

       7      planned, and, thank God they crashed the gates and

       8      they were able to get in to see the monument.

       9             That's a good thing.

      10             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  It was open?

      11             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  It is.

      12             You had mentioned, Ryan, about, you know --

      13      when did you get the instructions on the

      14      Common Core?

      15             Was it in the 2011-12 year, and then you were

      16      given the materials in 2012?

      17             Is that when that happened?

      18             RYAN SCHOENFELD, Ed.D:  I think New York's

      19      ahead of the game by a year.

      20             We're looking to implement the Common Core

      21      before we need to.

      22             But, two years ago, we were first with

      23      Race to the Top, understanding that we have the

      24      Common Core, and that first phase was where you did

      25      get an allocation, and that's where the substitutes







                                                                  227
       1      and training teachers, and the financial burden

       2      associated with the Common Core to train the

       3      teachers on the deconstruction, to understand each

       4      specific piece of the standard, standards in English

       5      or math.

       6             So that happened two years ago.

       7             This year, within our district and others,

       8      they're deciding to roll them out.

       9             And with ELA, in my particular district,

      10      we're doing kindergarten through eighth grade,

      11      Common Core English.

      12             We still have to obtain the resources, the

      13      textbooks, again, printing, and everything else.

      14             The mathematics we have rolled out.

      15             And tomorrow morning, actually, I'm meeting

      16      with the rest of our teachers that are not doing the

      17      math yet, but, we're planning on, in the second

      18      quarter of this year, meaning, coming up in five

      19      weeks, to roll out the mathematics for the

      20      Common Core for K through 6, so that everyone will

      21      be, again, setting our kids up to know the

      22      foundational skills for the concepts of mathematics.

      23             If we don't start doing this, when we send a

      24      third-grader to fourth grade, they won't learn that

      25      skill, and it will be more difficult to teach that







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       1      child the increased rigor of mathematics.

       2             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Now, you had said that

       3      there were resources available to your district or

       4      to your school to get this rolling.

       5             Was it done on a voluntary basis, or was it

       6      just -- was it something that your district

       7      implemented that has to be done?

       8             RYAN SCHOENFELD, Ed.D:  We had to decide how

       9      within our district we would do that, so we brought

      10      our Core teachers in and started it with

      11      mathematics.

      12             We did training in ELA over the summer with

      13      all of our teachers.

      14             So we had about 120 teachers trained, with a

      15      consultant that works specifically on how to work

      16      through these, and it's a work in progress.

      17             It's not perfect, but it is a program that

      18      we're using.

      19             You have to make the copies, you have to

      20      filter through.

      21             We're trying to withhold the integrity, which

      22      I say, of the Common Core, but there is professional

      23      judgment.

      24             And I agree with some colleagues, that, yes,

      25      we do need to interact and engage with kindergarten







                                                                  229
       1      children; that I do have parents that are saying "My

       2      kids are crying about," you know, "some of this

       3      stuff."

       4             We need to work through that, and we're

       5      working through that together.

       6             But, you do have to purchase textbooks for

       7      ELA.

       8             You have to purchase certain manipulatives,

       9      like the Unifix Blocks, or a certain type of style

      10      scale.

      11             So we're obtaining that through our district

      12      funds.

      13             And then we're printing out modules.

      14             Or, we bought iPads to utilize, so you can

      15      just pull up Module 2 and use that as your teacher

      16      edition.

      17             So not all districts can do that.

      18             We've been able to invest some of our money

      19      into that, instead of making a pile of modules for

      20      teachers to use as their curriculum guide.

      21             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Thanks, Ryan.

      22             Appreciate it.

      23             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Gentlemen, thank you very

      24      much.

      25







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       1             Patiently waiting in the on-deck circle is

       2      the ever-present but assertive Bruce Fraser.

       3             DR. BRUCE FRASER:  I'm very pleased I have an

       4      opportunity to be able to provide testimony on

       5      behalf of the rural school members.

       6             We represent about 280 school districts and

       7      30 BOCES.

       8             They're from all over the state: the tip of

       9      Long Island to the furthest, West Point, of the

      10      state, the Quebec border to the Pennsylvania border.

      11             Our districts represent 40 percent of the

      12      state's school districts, and we represent about

      13      1 out of every 8 students educated in

      14      New York State.

      15             And I point out one fact that's sometimes

      16      overlooked:

      17             New York educates the eighth-largest number

      18      of rural students of any of our 50 states.

      19             We are a diverse and large state, and we have

      20      that big a population of people considered rural.

      21             Again, the opportunity to testify here,

      22      I feel very comfortable, because we have

      23      two gentlemen, Senators, who were recognized last

      24      year as "Friends of the Rural Schools Association,"

      25      and we do appreciate the role that they played on --







                                                                  231
       1      working on behalf of rural schools.

       2             The overview I would give is, we're a

       3      member-driven organization, and we have the

       4      advantage of following on two other hearings.

       5             And I really asked members, before they

       6      provided me any input, to try to read some of the

       7      testimony from the first hearing.

       8             And I'm going to try to avoid that, but the

       9      one thing that came out in our testimony, smaller

      10      schools sometimes have an advantage in implementing

      11      change.

      12             We didn't hear all the pushback about,

      13      "We can't do this, this is difficult."

      14             We heard testimony expressing regrets that

      15      communications from State Ed had been unclear, and

      16      at times, not timely, but we also know that, again,

      17      in smaller organizations, we're a little more nimble

      18      and can make some of the changes.

      19             The concerns we kept hearing, were that this

      20      is an unfunded mandate, and it's beyond what we can

      21      afford, and that implementing these two major

      22      changes, APPR and conversion to the Core curriculum

      23      simultaneously in the face of very difficult

      24      economic circumstances, have really pushed our

      25      districts to the limit.







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       1             Again, their reservations about the way the

       2      reforms have been rolled out and handled, but,

       3      people are pretty much on board, to the extent that

       4      I'd to have say, we can't go back.

       5             We are in the midst of things.

       6             And I'll give you an example.

       7             We have begun the purchase of materials that

       8      support the Common Core in small districts, and, you

       9      know, that -- those are major commitments that are

      10      going to be difficult to back away from.

      11             So I think we have to move ahead from here.

      12             I think what happened last Thursday is very

      13      unfortunate, but I think it calls upon us to make a

      14      commitment to move forward, and to do so with the

      15      understanding, the only way we have a chance to be

      16      successful is if all the parties involved in

      17      education put their head down, vow to work together,

      18      and forge ahead.

      19             The concerns I hear from our members, they're

      20      about funding, and many of these districts received

      21      less than $20,000 of Race to the Top money.

      22             And the current status of our districts is

      23      that, we are funded by the State $184.4 million

      24      below what our districts received in 2008-2009.

      25             That's 7.1 percent below where we were







                                                                  233
       1      5 years ago in terms of State support.

       2             And the other thing we constantly point out,

       3      is our cumulative multi-year GEA adjustments have

       4      been over $1.175 billion.

       5             That's taken the toll out of the ability of

       6      rural school districts to maintain programs.

       7             And we point out, disparities exist.

       8             There are disparities in student performance

       9      across this state that are wider than they should

      10      be.

      11             There are disparities in resource

      12      availability, partly because we have 700 school

      13      districts with very different tax bases.

      14             And there are disparities in tax burden.

      15             And for our communities to remain viable, it

      16      really requires that we have a good, solid level of

      17      State support.

      18             Our school districts have been hurt

      19      tremendously as State aid has been pulled back

      20      during the difficult economic times.

      21             The prospect for rural schools right now, and

      22      rural communities, do we have a chance for economic

      23      development under the current circumstances?

      24             And I'd turn that around and say, What

      25      business, large or small, would relocate to, or even







                                                                  234
       1      remain, in areas of the state where the education

       2      system has been taken from a relatively healthy one

       3      to a bare-bones one, and, second, where there's a

       4      very high tax burden being borne by the local

       5      taxpayers?

       6             So those are concerns that we have.

       7             And the concerns we have, I think

       8      understanding the school funding, and

       9      Senator Flanagan, I've particularly seen it from

      10      your perspective, a person who has to try to deal

      11      with your colleagues in the Senate, and take a

      12      big-picture perspective, while still representing

      13      some very demanding constituents.

      14             We don't believe the changes that need to be

      15      made in the school-aid formula can be made under the

      16      guise of -- under the direction of the Senate.

      17             And that is, with the greatest respect for

      18      the job that you do, we just believe that the

      19      current formulas, if you look at the current GEA

      20      adjustments for this year, we went from four tiers

      21      to ten tiers.

      22             Beyond that, we have bullet money that's only

      23      available to people in the majority caucus, that is

      24      handed out.

      25             And all those things make us skeptical that







                                                                  235
       1      things can be changed and improved under the current

       2      environment.

       3             What we propose is something along the lines

       4      of the hospital reforms, where, literally, you

       5      turned it over to the hands of experts, and we would

       6      say out-of-state experts, would come in and study

       7      the diverse districts that exist in New York, and

       8      come up with a plan for how schools should be funded

       9      in this situation.

      10             We would not minimize the important role of

      11      the Legislature in terms of school funding.

      12             You still would be involved, to the extent

      13      that you look at the entire state picture, the

      14      fiscal condition of the state, the other demands

      15      placed upon you as legislators by the State, but,

      16      literally, how money is allocated is critical.

      17             In my testimony, I refer to Dr. Baker's

      18      study.

      19             We're 4th in the nation in adequacy when you

      20      look at the 50 states.

      21             We're 44th in terms of regressivity and

      22      progressivity.

      23             To give out large amounts of money based on

      24      flawed formulas is, in our eyes, nothing more than

      25      folly.







                                                                  236
       1             And, when we talk about the system, we've

       2      seen political changes of the majority.

       3             We'll say this, rural schools certainly

       4      didn't fare well when there was a different party

       5      running the Senate.

       6             But we are also aware that, that in a system

       7      where every legislator is virtually called upon to

       8      go back home and campaign, "I did a good job taking

       9      care of my constituents in my districts," that's not

      10      going to get us to where we need to be in terms of a

      11      fair and equitable funding system.

      12             So we really ask that the consideration be

      13      given by the Senate Committee, and effort be made,

      14      working with the colleagues in the Assembly, to move

      15      in a different direction: to depoliticize allocation

      16      of school funding.

      17             We feel like, again, the tremendous diversity

      18      of our state demands that reform be looked at in

      19      that light, and we understand the pressures placed

      20      upon you as senators, to advocate, and bring home

      21      the bacon on behalf of your constituents, but that

      22      leads to kids elsewhere in the state having less

      23      opportunity, and citizens elsewhere in the state

      24      having higher tax burdens.

      25             There are better ways to operate, and I think







                                                                  237
       1      it is a technical enough subject that I'd ask you to

       2      consider giving up one of your major

       3      responsibilities.

       4             As I conclude my written testimony, I ask you

       5      this to think about:

       6             Wouldn't your time be spent better in other

       7      ways than meeting with the superintendents and

       8      members of interest groups who come in and visit you

       9      on "Tin-Can Tuesday," with their hands out, saying,

      10      You need to do better on our behalf?

      11             And wouldn't education be served better if

      12      those superintendents and leaders were back in their

      13      district working to implement the reforms that have

      14      been initiated?

      15             Now, again, as a member organization, that's

      16      one message that was transmitted to me loud and

      17      clear.

      18             There were two or three other things that

      19      I mentioned in the testimony.

      20             One of them is, that our rural schools, under

      21      the tax cap, we have 38 member districts whose tax

      22      levy is under $3 million.

      23             Very small allocation for growth under a

      24      2 percent tax-cap limit, lower at a 1.5 that we're

      25      anticipating this year.







                                                                  238
       1             I give the example of a district with a

       2      1.5 million levy.

       3             They had $20,000 of costs negotiating their

       4      APPR agreement.

       5             That's almost -- that's over 65 percent of

       6      their allowable growth in their budget under the

       7      2 percent tax levy.

       8             With small districts, small budgets, and

       9      small levies, our districts are particularly

      10      sensitive to any mandate that's instituted or any

      11      new costs related to these -- the series of reforms.

      12             The second thing I'd ask you to think about

      13      that troubles us a little bit:

      14             When districts have experienced turnover,

      15      either as a superintendent, or a building-level

      16      principal moves on to another job, has a health

      17      issue, we've always been able to bring in

      18      experienced administrators and put them into the

      19      circumstances.

      20             In small school districts, that no longer

      21      works.

      22             The use of interims, even very experienced

      23      and capable administrators, the models that have

      24      been written for APPR require very specific

      25      training.







                                                                  239
       1             And if an administrator has not been really

       2      brought up to speed on that district's model, it's

       3      very difficult for our district to bring someone in

       4      for a month or two while they complete a search.

       5             So those are things that I think come to us,

       6      through our members, that we'd like to point out

       7      that are particularly troublesome for small rural

       8      districts.

       9             But, again, the biggest amount of feedback we

      10      had dealt with the concerns about funding.

      11             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Bruce, thank you very

      12      much.

      13             SENATOR GRISTANTI:  Thank you.

      14             I've got to take off, gentlemen.

      15             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Thanks, Bruce.

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Appreciate the time and

      17      the energy.

      18             DR. BRUCE FRASER:  Thank you.

      19             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  All right.

      20             Next, Cheryl Oldham from the U.S. Chamber of

      21      Commerce.

      22             Cheryl, you came from Washington; right?

      23             CHERYL OLDHAM:  Thank you.

      24             Thank you so much for inviting me to be here,

      25      and for allowing me to share with you our support







                                                                  240
       1      for the Reform Agenda, and specifically speak a bit

       2      about Common Core.

       3             As you mentioned, I'm from the U.S. Chamber

       4      of Commerce.

       5             The U.S. Chamber is the largest federation

       6      organization representing the interests of the

       7      business community in the country.

       8             We represent 3 million businesses of all

       9      size, sector, and region, and we have been in this

      10      business of education reform and engaged in these

      11      issues for some time because our membership asked us

      12      to be.

      13             The most important asset they have is their

      14      human capital, and what they're telling us, almost

      15      daily, is they're having difficulty hiring

      16      individuals with the skills and the education

      17      required for the jobs of today.

      18             And, so, I'll just be really brief, and talk

      19      sort of about three big things:

      20             Frame a little bit for you some of the data

      21      points that I think are important, and talk about

      22      why we support Common Core, and talk a little bit

      23      about what Common Core is not, in our opinion.

      24             So, framing a few data points for you:

      25             Of 34 industrialized countries, the







                                                                  241
       1      U.S. ranks 14th in this literacy, 17th in science,

       2      and 25th in math.

       3             Half of all undergrads, 70 percent of

       4      community-college students will take at least one

       5      remedial course.

       6             If we think about that, and these are the

       7      students that have actually graduated.

       8             They've come out of school with either a

       9      diploma or the equivalent, and they're going on to

      10      some level of post-secondary education, and they

      11      have to take non-credit-bearing remedial courses

      12      that costs us money as taxpayers, it costs them

      13      money, obviously.

      14             And, oftentimes, those who do take those --

      15      have to take those remedial courses will have more

      16      difficulty, actually, getting that end credential.

      17             We know that jobs are more specialized and

      18      technical today than ever before.

      19             We're seeing now, 3.9, up from 3.1 million,

      20      jobs going unfilled right now in this still

      21      difficult economic time.

      22             And 90 percent of the fastest-growing

      23      professions will require some

      24      post-secondary-education training, and by 2020,

      25      120 million high-skilled, high-wage jobs we'll have







                                                                  242
       1      in this country.

       2             And by all indications, we will fall short of

       3      the skilled and educated workers to fill those jobs.

       4             We can't afford to only focus on the elite.

       5             What is great about the Common Core, and I'll

       6      talk a little bit about this, is that it's high

       7      rigorous standards for all students.

       8             We can't afford to focus on the elite, and we

       9      can't afford to wait until high school for that

      10      high-stakes exam to say that you're ready, or you're

      11      not.

      12             That we can't -- 70 percent of

      13      African-American males in Buffalo who are dropping

      14      out of high school and not graduating, that's too

      15      late for them.

      16             We have to start early.

      17             It's clear that the current system, based on

      18      all of those sort of alarming statistics I just

      19      talked about, is not preparing students to succeed

      20      in college or the modern workforce.

      21             And from our perspective, we really feel like

      22      the Common Core state standards are a key -- key

      23      component to sort of addressing that challenge.

      24             And so I'll talk about three things, very

      25      briefly, that are key to Common Core, and why the







                                                                  243
       1      business community supports it.

       2             Number one, as I said, elevated set of

       3      standards rigorous for all students.

       4             Second, nationwide clarity and consistency.

       5             Shockingly, I mean, as mobile as our economy

       6      is, as mobile as our businesses are, as our families

       7      are, standards vary across the state.

       8             Some are very low, some are very high, some

       9      in the middle.

      10             And then, third, internationally benchmarked.

      11             These standards will rise to a level that

      12      will be comparable with our competitors overseas,

      13      most of whom are outperforming our students today.

      14             What is critical, though, to Common Core,

      15      I think, as important as these high standards, is

      16      without rigorous, quality assessments aligned to

      17      those standards, they're really meaningless.

      18             How do you know where your deficiencies are

      19      if you don't measure outcomes?

      20             And I think that's what's important to think

      21      about.

      22             I know, as you're considering sort of the

      23      consortia PARCC, the consortia assessment that's

      24      being developed, I would encourage you to spend some

      25      time looking at that.







                                                                  244
       1             I think what they really are trying to do, is

       2      make that very quality, quality assessment that

       3      anyone -- I've heard a teacher say, "I would be

       4      proud to teach to that assessment."

       5             It's not just fill in a bunch of bubbles.

       6             It is very, very, a quality piece.

       7             And what is unique about it, is that you do

       8      have a number of states coming together, and experts

       9      from across all of those states that are

      10      participating, that are helping to develop the

      11      assessment.

      12             It's not just, Oh, here's the testing

      13      company.

      14             Go develop an assessment on [unintelligible]

      15      standards.

      16             These are professionals that are spending

      17      every day, going back to the testing company saying:

      18             Is this aligned to the standard?

      19             Is this rigorous?

      20             Does this really meet the --

      21             And so I think that's what is unique about

      22      that.

      23             Just briefly, as some of these things have

      24      been said already today, or raised with you today,

      25      some of the myths I think about Common Core:







                                                                  245
       1             One, that it's centralized authority over our

       2      schools.

       3             That it's somehow a federal --

       4      federally-driven prospect.

       5             And that's just not the case.

       6             Governors, state chiefs, came together to

       7      developed this.

       8             The federal government really doesn't have

       9      anything to do with it, although I would say, I can

      10      see where people would make that connection.

      11             And the more that, you know, folks in

      12      Washington talk about it, in terms of the secretary

      13      or the President, it's actually not helpful.

      14             It is a state-driven process.

      15             States are not required to participate.

      16             And, so, I think that's key.

      17             Secondly, that it dumbs-down existing

      18      standards.

      19             Someone here mentioned that you all ought to

      20      scrap the Common Core and look to Massachusetts

      21      because they're number one in the country.

      22             Well, Massachusetts went through a very

      23      rigorous process to decide whether to adopt

      24      Common Core, because they did have really high

      25      standards.







                                                                  246
       1             And we've studied this, and the business

       2      community was actually key to coming forth and

       3      saying, We're not gonna -- we're not gonna just to

       4      go Common Core.

       5             We know we're really good, we know we've got

       6      high standards.

       7             We're going to study this.

       8             We're gonna ask an independent evaluation to

       9      come and look at it.

      10             And what they found was, it's pretty much a

      11      toss-up.

      12             You could go with your current assessments --

      13      your current standards or you could go with

      14      Common Core.

      15             But the business community ultimately decided

      16      to throw their weight behind Common Core

      17      Massachusetts because there was a few things that

      18      they -- that Common Core stressed that the current

      19      Massachusetts standards did not, and that was

      20      critical-thinking, reading complex text, and

      21      persuasive writing; all of the things that the

      22      business community said, Those are important to us.

      23             And then I guess -- what's the third thing?

      24             Oh, the data piece.

      25             So, sort of, the big government snooping on







                                                                  247
       1      our children and collecting data, it's just not

       2      true.

       3             There's nothing about Common Core that

       4      requires some sort of additional data.

       5             There's actually a federal prohibition on

       6      identify -- uh, collecting -- uh, identifiable --

       7      student-identifiable data.

       8             And so I think, you know, if there's issues

       9      about data that you all are considering, I think

      10      it's important to make sure that they are -- that

      11      it's very clear that one is not connected to the

      12      other.

      13             And in conclusion, I think I'll just say

      14      that, you know, for years and years and years we've

      15      been telling our students and our parents and

      16      everyone, "You're on track."

      17             You're on track, you're doing fine.

      18             And it's clearly not the case.

      19             I mean, you can look at the NAEP scores and

      20      how students do on the national report card, versus

      21      how they do on state assessments, and the gap is

      22      huge.

      23             The remedial data points that I mentioned

      24      earlier, those that are having to go on and take

      25      remedial courses before they're prepared, we're







                                                                  248
       1      just -- I think Common Core injects a level of

       2      honesty into all of this.

       3             And so I would -- I know that you all are

       4      struggling, obviously, with a lot of this, and want

       5      to do the right thing.

       6             I would just urge you to sort of stay the

       7      course on this.

       8             And, I would be happy to answer any

       9      questions.

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I just have one question

      11      on -- in the beginning of your testimony, you cite

      12      some facts.

      13             CHERYL OLDHAM:  Yep.

      14             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  14th in literacy,

      15      17th in science, 25 in math.

      16             Would you just forward to us the sourcing on

      17      that?

      18             CHERYL OLDHAM:  OECD.

      19             I'll be happy to.

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  And [unintelligible]

      21      something else, quickly.

      22             Your members, you, obviously, it's the

      23      U.S. Chamber.

      24             CHERYL OLDHAM:  Uh-huh.

      25             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  General assessment, how







                                                                  249
       1      are they viewing New York?

       2             Are we considered a leader?

       3             Are we considered a laggard?

       4             Are we, you know, just going through the

       5      process?

       6             What would you say is the general assessment?

       7             CHERYL OLDHAM:  I think you're probably --

       8      I think you all have a reputation of being pretty

       9      good, and I think that was -- I think that's

      10      evidenced by sort of research and analysis of your

      11      standards before you adopted the Common Core, which

      12      were, you know, I think on math, like, right in the

      13      middle, and, reading, a little bit higher, or maybe

      14      it was reversed.

      15             I can't -- I have it here somewhere.

      16             But I think, when you -- I mean, I just

      17      think, generally, across the board, we're not

      18      meeting the grade in terms of what employers need.

      19             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay.

      20             Thank you very much.

      21             Appreciate it.

      22             CHERYL OLDHAM:  Thanks.

      23             Next, the Niagara Region PTA,

      24      Dr. John McKenna.

      25             DR. JOHN McKENNA:  Thank you very much for







                                                                  250
       1      having me here today and representing the

       2      Niagara Region PTA.

       3             On behalf of the 33 school districts that the

       4      Niagara Region represents, I thank you.

       5             Today what I'll do is, I'll just share a

       6      little introduction, and then what I'll do is, what

       7      we had the opportunity to do this year was, we wrote

       8      three statements of concern, as a region, and we

       9      presented these this past year.

      10             And we feel that it's more relevant now than

      11      ever that you hear the message from our region again

      12      regarding the high-stakes testing.

      13             So, again, at the opening:

      14             My name is John McKenna.

      15             I've been an elementary principal in the

      16      Tonawanda City School District for the past

      17      19 years.

      18             During that time, I've had the privilege of

      19      being actively involved in Niagara Region PTA.

      20             First and foremost, I'm a parent of three

      21      boys.

      22             In addition, I have served in the Region

      23      executive board as the educational chairman and as a

      24      legislative chairman.

      25             I've also received the honorary lifetime







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       1      member for over 25 years of service in the PTA, so,

       2      I'm no rookie in the PTA.

       3             We've worked together for many, many, many

       4      years.

       5             In my various experiences, I have never

       6      witnessed so much parental frustration, confusion,

       7      and anger over the current high-stakes-testing

       8      policies being implemented across New York State.

       9             Due to the outpouring of parental concerns,

      10      the Niagara Region PTA adopted a resolution against

      11      high-stakes testing, and developed three statements

      12      of concern that we read at the New York State

      13      PTA Convention in November of 2012.

      14             Since then, our concerns have only multiplied

      15      and our fears have come true, as thousands of

      16      students have failed and have been considered

      17      ineffective in the last round of testing.

      18             We are thankful now to be given this

      19      opportunity to testify and share our statements

      20      again, in the hope that someone will listen to the

      21      voices of our parents across the region.

      22             These statements were put together by,

      23      probably, two or three dozen parents that got

      24      together and wrote these.

      25             We are all here today because we care deeply







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       1      about our children and want to ensure that they

       2      receive the best possible educational experiences.

       3             Based on research and direct evidence from

       4      our membership, we, the Niagara Region PTA, believe

       5      the State Education Department's high-stakes testing

       6      of our students and teachers is harming our students

       7      and our schools.

       8             More than two decades of scientific research

       9      demonstrates that the current testing regimes yield

      10      unreliable measures of student learning and have a

      11      negative effect on both students and teachers.

      12             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  John, if I may, I'm not

      13      sure if you were here all long, but, I would prefer

      14      if you would just summarize your testimony.

      15             It's pretty straightforward, and you're a pro

      16      at doing this.

      17             So, just hit the high points, because we

      18      have -- all this is made part of the written record

      19      already.

      20             DR. JOHN McKENNA:  Sure, absolutely.

      21             Well, I think the thing that worries us most

      22      is what we've seen with our children.

      23             And there have just been so much angst about

      24      what we've seen with our students: the stress, the

      25      anxiety, tears.  Students that don't want to go to







                                                                  253
       1      school.

       2             And, it's welled up to be quite a crisis.

       3             A lot of parents now even have decided that

       4      they want to opt out, which we as -- in public

       5      school, we don't believe in that, but, that's how

       6      serious it's gotten with some parents.

       7             So something, we really believe, needs to be

       8      done, and it has to stop, because students deserve

       9      the right to have an education based on their own

      10      individual needs.

      11             And what we're seeing right now is, for

      12      example, with the new testing, it's at such rigorous

      13      high levels that it's causing frustration in

      14      students, and they're written in such a way that's

      15      going to cause that.

      16             For example, if you're familiar with some of

      17      the new modules and work, I'll give a fifth-grade

      18      example to you:

      19             Right now, students, for example, in

      20      fifth grade are working on an exam, a UDHR.

      21             Are you familiar with what that is?

      22             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Yes, sir.

      23             DR. JOHN McKENNA:  "Universal Declaration of

      24      Human Rights."

      25             It's written at a 1,650 Lexile level.







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       1             I know that probably doesn't mean that much

       2      to you, but the average fifth-grader --

       3             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  That part I don't know.

       4             DR. JOHN McKENNA:  Well, I'll try to explain,

       5      because, hopefully, this will bring this to you.

       6             You see, the average fifth-grader reads at

       7      about an 800 to 900 Lexile level, so that's at a

       8      level almost twice as much.

       9             So that's not rigorous, that's frustrational.

      10             And that's why when you see kids becoming

      11      upset, not wanting to come to school, it's not

      12      because they don't want to come to school or be

      13      successful; it's because the work is at such

      14      frustrational levels that it's very difficult for

      15      them.

      16             The tests also have been written at very

      17      frustrational levels.

      18             There are distracters built right into the

      19      questions, which are designed to have kids

      20      multiple -- to give multiple answers.

      21             There's also field-test questions embedded in

      22      these tests as well, which are very confusing.

      23             So a lot of times, we have some of our

      24      smartest children who have come across these

      25      questions, that are not proven, and what happens is,







                                                                  255
       1      they get so stuck on these questions that they can't

       2      get through the test.

       3             Time runs out.

       4             And some kids that we know, that got 4s

       5      before now, got 1s ands 2s, not because they're not

       6      smart or intelligent, but because of test design.

       7             And that's caused a lot of serious stress in

       8      our students, and with our parents.

       9             Because parents just got the letters home

      10      within the -- all the districts across the state

      11      over the last, you know, few weeks, and opened up

      12      those envelopes, and parents were very shocked when

      13      they saw students who, at one time, were getting 3s

      14      and 4s, now getting 1s and 2s; and so trying to

      15      explain it to parents, like, why, and what happened.

      16             And then when you see part of construct of

      17      the test that we're allowed to see, well, we saw

      18      pineapples and hares, and things like that, and some

      19      of those inappropriate questions, but those are the

      20      types of things that are prevalent on these tests.

      21             And another thing that came up in some of the

      22      previous testimony is, so now the school officials

      23      and folks, we're not allowed to look at these tests,

      24      we're not allowed to dissect or do item analysis

      25      with these tests, so that we can really see what







                                                                  256
       1      exactly what happened and where the breakdown was,

       2      so that we can fix it, because, supposedly, I don't

       3      know, they're secretive questions.

       4             So, it's hard for us to even prepare in

       5      schools, and even help parents prepare, because

       6      we're not sure of all the content.

       7             All we're given is the Common Core and the

       8      modules, which is, we can see, are at incredibly

       9      frustrational levels that's causing this

      10      frustration.

      11             It's very simple:

      12             If you look at -- we talked a lot today about

      13      learning theory.

      14             If you individualize and differentiate

      15      instruction, what you do then, is you meet the child

      16      at their needs.

      17             Right?

      18             That's called a "zone of proximal

      19      development."

      20             So if you can develop instruction to meet

      21      their needs, which we know how to do, given running

      22      records, qualitative reading inventories, there's

      23      ways that we can assess students at those levels,

      24      and then what we can do is, scaffold students to

      25      success.







                                                                  257
       1             So if we keep going to their instructional

       2      levels with smart assessments, we then can scaffold

       3      students to all kinds of high levels of achievement.

       4             If we teach and test at seriously high levels

       5      of instruction and testing, what it does is, it

       6      causes that big gap, where kids feel they can't make

       7      it.

       8             That's what perpetuates dropouts.

       9             That's what perpetuates kids feeling not

      10      successful.

      11             And, it's those things that cause our parents

      12      to have such angst, because kids go home, that's how

      13      those -- the kitchen tables turn into places of

      14      frustration and anger, because people don't know and

      15      understand this work, and why their children are so

      16      frustrated with it.

      17             And you saw what happened in Poughkeepsie.

      18             And, it's very disheartening to us in the

      19      Niagara region that the other forums have been

      20      canceled, because we have a lot of parents that

      21      really want to voice concerns, that want to hear

      22      themselves -- they need to be heard in this because

      23      they have legitimate concerns.

      24             And I hope that you will -- I know we're

      25      looking, in some ways, in Niagara region, to







                                                                  258
       1      continue to have, even though, if the Commissioner

       2      can't come, we're trying to work with state PTA to

       3      still offer forums, even if the Commissioner can't

       4      come, because we feel there's a real need; that

       5      people need to be able to express their concerns, in

       6      a democratic fashion, which we feel they're not

       7      given that opportunity to do so.

       8             So that's it in a nutshell, some of the

       9      concerns that we have.

      10             I guess that summarizes my --

      11             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  No, it does.

      12             And, obviously, we have -- we've heard a lot

      13      of comments relative to the event, and the scheduled

      14      events.

      15             And one of the things that I will reiterate

      16      is, that's why we're doing -- that's one of the

      17      primary reasons we're doing these hearings.

      18             And we had -- you know, I consider you to be

      19      a representative of parents and educators,

      20      obviously, in conjunction with the PTA.

      21             DR. JOHN McKENNA:  Well, I'd also like to

      22      say, too, about special interests, I know the one

      23      person from Rochester mentioned, you know, special

      24      interests, and that's another thing that parents,

      25      teachers, work together, and administrators.







                                                                  259
       1             They're not special.

       2             Principals and teachers work with parents,

       3      and we have for years.

       4             And the fact that -- I think that when people

       5      make claims that there's groups that might be

       6      special interests, I think that's misleading and

       7      disingenuous, because, see, I've been a PTA -- I'm a

       8      principal, but I've been a PTA member for 26 years.

       9             I have not missed one PTA event in 26 years.

      10             And I was at a PTA meeting last night, and

      11      will continue to always work cooperatively and

      12      collegially with my PTA, as do the teachers I work

      13      with.

      14             I'd always say, we were a team, a united

      15      front.

      16             And some of the things that are going on out

      17      there are very divisive and starting to pit people

      18      against each other, which I think we really have to

      19      be careful of.

      20             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  No questions.

      21             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you very much, sir.

      22             DR. JOHN McKENNA:  Thank you.

      23             All right, now I think we've got the "A" team

      24      coming.

      25             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Now we've got everyone







                                                                  260
       1      else.

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Lady, and gentlemen.

       3             A rose between two thorns, perhaps.

       4             WILLIAM BOATWRIGHT:  Well, good afternoon.

       5             On behalf of the Buffalo Council of

       6      Supervisors and Administrators, we'd like to welcome

       7      you to Buffalo.

       8             Thank you for taking the time to hear our

       9      perspective today.

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I just want to make sure,

      11      we had several names.  I just be want to make sure

      12      who is here, please.

      13             WILLIAM BOATWRIGHT:  So I'm

      14      William Boatwright, elementary principal.

      15             GENELLE MORRIS:  I'm Genelle Morris.  I'm

      16      assistant superintendent of Shared Accountability,

      17      and the chief information officer for Buffalo.

      18             KEVEN EBERLE:  I'm Kevin Eberle, a building

      19      principal.

      20             Actually on the list, represented as

      21      secondary principal, as I've just recently acquired,

      22      we're the only one in the state that took over a

      23      charter school back to the Buffalo schools, a

      24      pinnacle closure to, now, PS 115.

      25             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  And, Mr. Boatwright, do







                                                                  261
       1      you work in the Buffalo School District as well?

       2             WILLIAM BOATWRIGHT:  Correct.

       3             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Okay.

       4             WILLIAM BOATWRIGHT:  So given the lateness of

       5      the hour, and the fact that there's about ten people

       6      left in the room, I don't think there's a danger of

       7      what happened in Poughkeepsie happening this

       8      afternoon, but I thought what we would try to do is,

       9      try to frame the conversation a little bit and pick

      10      up a thread of the discussion heard today.

      11             One of the things that you've heard a lot

      12      about are a set of unintended consequences as a

      13      result of the Regents reform movement.

      14             I wanted to start with an unintended benefit.

      15             What you see right now across the state, and

      16      I see it as a unifying concept, whether urban,

      17      rural, suburban, that, for the first time in a long

      18      time, we're having some very serious and deep

      19      conversations about standards, about reform; so that

      20      is a very good thing.

      21             But as you know, with any change process,

      22      this is an uncomfortable time.

      23             What we're hoping is a result of forums

      24      today, is that through all the confusion and

      25      ambiguity, that we'll reach a place of clarity.







                                                                  262
       1             So, it's important that you gather all the

       2      feedback and you listen, and you take it back and,

       3      hopefully, put it to good use.

       4             Where I'd like to pick up is also by stating

       5      that, as a school leader and teacher who's worked

       6      for the past 15 years in urban settings, we're a

       7      believer in standards and the importance of

       8      assessment.

       9             And, standards and rigor certainly have their

      10      place, but nothing -- nothing beats having great

      11      teachers and great leaders in schools.

      12             That's definitely the case there.

      13             So one of the places that I want to start in

      14      my comments today is talking about capacity, but in

      15      order to talk about capacity, I need to go back to a

      16      metaphor that Dr. Martzloff referred to earlier,

      17      this concept of changing the plane, or refueling the

      18      plane, as it's flying in the air, because that's

      19      what we're being asked to do right now.

      20             But, I want to extrapolate that metaphor a

      21      little bit further.

      22             We're not only being asked to refuel the

      23      plane right now, we're being asked to maintain the

      24      altitude and also make the plane fly higher.

      25             Let me further complicate that.







                                                                  263
       1             The pilots that we currently have flying the

       2      planes right now have been trained to be bus drivers

       3      their whole career.

       4             So, we have to address the capacity issue at

       5      the teacher and school-leader level as well, so this

       6      means that it has to be replicated at what's

       7      happening at the preservice level and at the

       8      professional-development level.

       9             For years, we've been asking teachers to

      10      operate like bus drivers.

      11             Now we want them to be pilots, and not just

      12      any pilots, but G4 pilots, if you will.

      13             So we have to go back and take a look at what

      14      we're doing to train teachers, and understand that,

      15      heretofore, they're utilizing skills that they never

      16      have had to use before.

      17             We're asking teachers to not only know the

      18      standards, but be familiar with them in an intimate

      19      and deep way.

      20             We're asking them to be able to identify data

      21      sources, and once they've done that, to be able to

      22      accurately analyze those data sources to actually

      23      make good instructional decisions that align the

      24      standards, and to correctly identify the appropriate

      25      strategy to remediate student-learning deficiencies.







                                                                  264
       1             These are all new skills that we're asking

       2      teachers and school leaders to take on in a very

       3      constrictive period of time.

       4             So, as much as we're addressing the standards

       5      component and the assessment component of the

       6      Regents reform, we can't lose sight of what's

       7      happening at the capacity level.

       8             Talking about unintended consequences again,

       9      this has unintended consequences in terms of how

      10      these high-stakes tests are used, because,

      11      unfortunately, for teachers that are working hard,

      12      they have been the recipient of unintended

      13      consequences as a result of how their scores are

      14      calculated.

      15             And we've also seen situations where teachers

      16      who aren't working hard have been able to benefit,

      17      because, already, anytime you have a new system,

      18      there's always people that are able to game it

      19      somehow.

      20             So these are the things that we need to take

      21      a closer look at, knowing that there's an important

      22      place that we need to get to as part of this

      23      important reform movement, but we need to sort

      24      through all of these unintended consequences and

      25      make sure that we're addressing all components of







                                                                  265
       1      the plane if we want to fly straight and we want to

       2      fly high.

       3             Thank you.

       4             GENELLE MORRIS:  I'm going address the data

       5      and the assessment issue, and I say "issue," because

       6      you've already heard lots of information about how

       7      we move data along the chain to meet the state

       8      reporting requirements.

       9             But one of the things that are very important

      10      to understand, is that we have this evaluation

      11      system that's been established for teachers and

      12      principals, to evaluate their effectiveness, and

      13      it's linked directly to their performance on state

      14      assessments, as measured by the Regents and the

      15      state assessments at 3 through 8; but, also, there

      16      are plenty of state assessments that have been

      17      created at the local levels.

      18             In 697 districts, that's very difficult to

      19      measure the validity and the rigor of each one of

      20      those assessments that are then being used for

      21      high-stakes decisions.

      22             So one of the things that our organization is

      23      asking for is an independent review of the

      24      evaluation system, a meta-evaluation, if you will,

      25      where we're going to -- you would actually able to







                                                                  266
       1      evaluate how well that system is working.

       2             If some people are being evaluated using a

       3      reasoned sort of state assessment for 3 through 8,

       4      and then some others are being evaluated with a

       5      locally-developed assessment, how well are we able

       6      to determine a teacher or a principal's

       7      effectiveness based on those data that are generated

       8      via that system?

       9             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Can I ask you a question

      10      on that, though, because you get to the heart of

      11      something that is a legitimate and real issue, but

      12      one that's quite controversial as well.

      13             You heard a lot of speakers before you talk

      14      about the concept of local control, and the loss of

      15      local control.

      16             Part of what it sounds like you're

      17      advocating, is the State basically coming in and

      18      saying, Here's going to be the standard.  Whether

      19      it's a local assessment or it's a state test, in

      20      essence, we're not going to have this whole

      21      patchwork.  We're going to have maybe two or three.

      22             And, you know what would happen; not only

      23      would the principals and the administrators be

      24      unhappy, but the teachers would be very unhappy,

      25      because that would take away their ability to







                                                                  267
       1      negotiate these things locally.

       2             So are you advocating a broad statewide

       3      approach with no local input?

       4             GENELLE MORRIS:  No, actually, I'm not.  I'm

       5      not actually advocating that at all.

       6             What I'm seeing is, is that we've designed a

       7      system.  The system, it works with a percentage of

       8      state assessments that are used to determine a

       9      teacher's effectiveness, and a percentage that's

      10      based on an observation of a teacher's practice or a

      11      principal's practice.

      12             What we're saying is, that an independent

      13      evaluation, as to the effectiveness of that actual

      14      system, did we design it right?

      15             Is 20/20/60 the right way to measure

      16      teacher's effectiveness, using a certain percentage

      17      of teacher's scores based on their students'

      18      performance on the assessments?

      19             And what you also have to remember are, the

      20      state assessments are measuring something entirely

      21      different from what would be measured on a

      22      locally-developed assessment.

      23             So, you have two different ways of

      24      determining student performance.

      25             You have one that's developed locally based







                                                                  268
       1      on local educator input, and then you have one

       2      that's developed nationally from an independent

       3      vendor.

       4             How are we able to compare those methods of

       5      evaluation and then come up with a score at the end

       6      that says, that this teacher is effective, and this

       7      one isn't?

       8             So what we're saying is, an independent

       9      evaluation of the actual system itself is probably

      10      needed to make sure that we're doing this properly.

      11             If we're supposed to be evaluating the

      12      effectiveness of educators, we need to be able to

      13      say that we're doing it right.

      14             If you use a state assessment to come up with

      15      an evaluation score, it's just as valid and reliable

      16      as a score that's generated based on an assessment

      17      that was drawn based on student performance on

      18      locally-developed assessments.

      19             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  So if you -- which one

      20      would you choose?

      21             GENELLE MORRIS:  Well, I would want to

      22      know -- I'm thinking right now, with the state

      23      assessments, you have lots of test data that allows

      24      to you see how the tests behave, and how students

      25      are taking each assessment, and you're able to see







                                                                  269
       1      lots of data to say, this particular test behaves

       2      this way when students take them.

       3             With locally-developed assessments, you don't

       4      have that type of information.

       5             You have no data that tells you about the

       6      performance of a student's behavior on a test.

       7             So when you have those two different types of

       8      tests, the types of comparison of rigor, it's not

       9      comparable.

      10             I develop a test based on a conversation with

      11      my fourth-grade teachers, we're gonna develop a test

      12      that we feel best reflects our curriculum; versus,

      13      we have another test that's developed by a vendor,

      14      they're coming up with a test that's totally

      15      different, but their test items have been tested.

      16             So that's the difference.

      17             If I'm going to develop a test item with a

      18      group of educators, versus, one that's been actually

      19      field-tested, then you have comparability issues.

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Thank you.

      21             GENELLE MORRIS:  That was that one.

      22             So then, also, you've heard a lot of

      23      information about resources in the system, and how

      24      we are asked to create multiple pre- and post-tests

      25      that will be able to provide the data for this APPR







                                                                  270
       1      system.

       2             So, we had to create over 300 pre-imposed

       3      tests to make sure that we were able to assess all

       4      areas, including career and technical education.

       5             We had varied areas that we needed to make

       6      sure that we had pre- and/or post-tests, so that we

       7      were able to generate these types of data for the

       8      system so that we could accurately give information

       9      about a teacher or principal's evaluation score.

      10             So, even though we complied with that,

      11      there's questions about the validity.

      12             If you're creating such tests in such volume

      13      to meet a mandate, how reliable and how rigorous are

      14      those tests?

      15             So once again, an outside evaluation of the

      16      system itself, and how it's being used, and the

      17      components within it, the research still needs to be

      18      collected to develop whether -- I mean, to determine

      19      whether this data are actually supporting what we're

      20      actually trying to ask the system to do.

      21             And then, lastly, I wanted to speak to the

      22      inBloom system.

      23             The inBloom system has been mentioned before

      24      as a method that we're collecting data on students

      25      around the state.







                                                                  271
       1             And, yes, in small districts where there is

       2      little transiency and there's little movement, then

       3      this may seem to be a burden.

       4             But for a district such as Buffalo where we

       5      have a lot of students moving in and out of the

       6      district from other districts, it's a method for us

       7      to be able to get data from our other districts;

       8      whereas, before, we had to wait, hopefully, we got a

       9      transcript from another district.

      10             So this allows our educators to get that

      11      information quickly, when it's up and running, and

      12      we're actually looking at it as a benefit; that it

      13      will allow us to get that type of information that

      14      we're looking for.

      15             So, that's my humble opinion from the

      16      assessment side of the room.

      17             KEVEN EBERLE:  I'll be brief.  It's been a

      18      long day for all of us.

      19             So I appreciate, we all appreciate, you being

      20      here, Senators, and I just wanted to give a little

      21      background of myself.

      22             I'm probably one of the veteran

      23      administrators in the room.

      24             I'm 20 years as a building principal in

      25      5 school districts, from Ellicottville, all the way







                                                                  272
       1      to the city of Buffalo.

       2             So, Mr. Grisanti, if he was here, out in

       3      Hamburg, and all the things, and part of his

       4      district.

       5             And you guys, I've seen.

       6             Actually, I actually had you speak at our

       7      Lakeshore Breakfast of Champions when you were

       8      sheriff, Senator.

       9             So, I've been around, and I've seen a lot.

      10             And you alluded to something,

      11      Senator Flanagan, earlier, what was working back

      12      when?

      13             And I go back to from the frameworks first

      14      started in 1989-1990, turning into the

      15      New York State Standards, and we had teachers

      16      sitting down in Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, sitting

      17      there saying, Okay, this will be fully implemented

      18      by 2005, then, 2012, or something.

      19             Then one guy sitting next to him saying, My

      20      God, and not only will I be retired, but I'll

      21      probably be dead by then.

      22             From 1990 to -- and here we are, 20 years

      23      later, going into --

      24             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Yeah, but we're still

      25      here.







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       1             KEVEN EBERLE:  It's amazing.

       2             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  The good part is, we're

       3      still here.

       4             KEVEN EBERLE:  Yeah.

       5             So, basically where we are in the city of

       6      Buffalo, a lot of things I'm going to allude, what

       7      William was talking about, about building capacity.

       8             And where we really are, especially in the

       9      Big Five, is that we have populations in the

      10      Big Five, and I'm not an excuse person.

      11             I was, as Naomi Cerre, the principal of at

      12      Lafayette, was talking, I was actually with her when

      13      Grover Cleveland was the International High School.

      14             Our population here in Buffalo has grown,

      15      literally, leaps and bounds in the ELL population.

      16             We have over 4500 ELL students

      17      (English-language learners) in the city of Buffalo

      18      right now.

      19             That's doubled in the last six years alone.

      20      We're one of the highest relocation cities probably in

      21      the country because we have four relocation centers.

      22             A lot of people ask that, why so many

      23      immigrants come to Buffalo?

      24             It's because of the capacity we have here for

      25      International Institute and Journey's End, Catholic







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       1      charities.

       2             We have many.

       3             Many states only have one; we have many.

       4             So the growth of that is huge, but we really

       5      haven't gotten an answer from State Ed, or anyone,

       6      to say, How do we actually account for these

       7      students?

       8             And they've been built right into the

       9      four-year cohort with everyone else.

      10             I'm a product of one of the principals.

      11             Being a 20-year principal, of being under of

      12      the federal regulation, No Child Left Behind, of

      13      actually being moved because of the actual

      14      non-movement of an international school.

      15             You're in a catch-22 of actually having

      16      30 percent of your population that can't speak

      17      English, and they're absolutely not going to pass

      18      the five Regents exams and all the assessments

      19      necessary to graduates in a four-year cohort, even

      20      with a fifth year for the ninth-graders.

      21             Impossible; it's just not there.

      22              What we have to do, as Naomi was speaking of

      23      earlier, build more capacity, and more knowledge,

      24      where we get in front of the legislative group to

      25      sit there and talk about this dilemma in New York.







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       1             New York City's been fighting this for

       2      20 years.

       3             We are one, you know, of the Big Five that

       4      it's been a difficult piece to that.

       5             So what we're really asking is to say,

       6      where -- and, again, it comes back to funding.

       7             I'm not talking about funding; I'm saying

       8      more money.

       9             How do we really look at sustainability of

      10      the funding we have and the money that we're using

      11      right now?

      12             Right now, we're built, and the Big Five are

      13      built off, a good portion of it is grant money.

      14             Many people alluded to it earlier, about

      15      using grant money to have the SIG grants continue.

      16             That should be part of the General Fund.

      17      I mean, that should be, actually, something that's

      18      going on all the time.

      19             We should have teacher aides, we should have

      20      assistant principals, we should have all of those

      21      forces to continue.

      22             Terry Schuda has changed

      23      South Park High School around, from 40 percent

      24      graduation rate, over 62 percent graduation rate.

      25             Now, that sounds low, 62 percent, but when







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       1      you've been under 50 percent all those years, that

       2      was huge over 4 years.

       3             Well, now that the SIG grant's gone, where is

       4      the sustainability of that?

       5             We have to figure a way to look at

       6      sustainability, and I think it's through

       7      transparency, and actually building that local

       8      capacity with who we have.

       9             We have brilliant administrators and teachers

      10      in this district.

      11             It's just because of the scores and the

      12      federal regulation trickling down to the state,

      13      saying, Wow, we have some ineffective administrators

      14      and teachers in this district. -- because of

      15      assessments, and the outcomes of these assessments.

      16             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Let me ask you, though,

      17      you just used the word "transparency."

      18             KEVEN EBERLE:  I'm sorry?  "Transparency"?

      19             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  How do you -- I mean,

      20      conceptually, it's easy to figure out, but what does

      21      that mean in practical terms?

      22             Because I'll just tell you, as someone who

      23      I'd like to think pays attention, "transparent";

      24      okay, I want to have access to information, and

      25      I want to make sure that whatever's going on in the







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       1      district, as a parent or as a taxpayer, that I can

       2      find that out.

       3             I'm not sure your point.

       4             KEVEN EBERLE:  You're in the world of

       5      non-transparency between Democrats and Republicans.

       6             I mean, we're in the world of

       7      non-transparency.

       8             We don't talk to each other in any way,

       9      shape, or form.

      10             There's very few people that really

      11      understand what's going on in the Big Five in

      12      New York State.

      13             You can go to Pennsylvania right now, there's

      14      one assessment that has to be given, and it's not

      15      about graduation rates; it's about school

      16      performance.

      17             Now, they're catching up with the

      18      Common Core, but it's still only one assessment for

      19      them to graduate.

      20             Those students can still to go

      21      Penn State Baron, Altoona, Penn State.  They can go

      22      to Pittsburgh.

      23             They're all citizens, they're kids from

      24      Pennsylvania.

      25             New York State, you have an African-American







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       1      male that, basically, has a 25 to 30 percent chance

       2      in Buffalo to graduate.

       3             They say, Well, why is that?

       4             Well, a lot of them are 16 years old starting

       5      in ninth grade.

       6             We're taking chunks of time, and as William

       7      was alluding to, trying to build a plane as we're

       8      flying it, instead of starting from a starting

       9      point.

      10             And each year, we're going along with these

      11      assessments and saying, Look, it, you have

      12      four years to turn this school around, you have

      13      three years to turn this school around, in a

      14      four-year cohort, when you have a percentages of

      15      your students that are already 16 years old.

      16             I've lived that for ten years in the city.

      17             I've seen it out there with the

      18      Native Americans in Lakeshore.  They're coming off

      19      the reservation, brilliant kids, but they're 16

      20      years old.

      21             Building transparency is being honest with it

      22      and saying, Hey, who are we? where are we? -- and

      23      let's really start talking, get in front of the

      24      whole legislative body.

      25             We don't have that.







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       1             We'll have things on corruption.

       2             We'll have things about, you know, really

       3      talking about the things that are out there.

       4             There are lobbying -- there's lobbyists out

       5      there right now dealing with Pearson right now, and

       6      they're, basically, making billions of dollars on

       7      textbooks.

       8             We can't even go that way and talk about

       9      money, when you talk about what curriculum is,

      10      because, now, what is everybody doing?

      11             They're getting to the bandwagon, talking

      12      about, Let's write books that say "Common Core" on

      13      it.  There's another billion dollars.

      14             When you really want to be transparent, let's

      15      talk about the stuff that's really out there.

      16             She's our data person; she's our girl for

      17      data.

      18             We have all the data there.  We know what it

      19      is.

      20             We don't need testing three-quarters of the

      21      year to talk about a kid being at a reading level

      22      three grades below.

      23             We need to them get in the classroom, get the

      24      right instruction going, and we're spending too much

      25      time on the testing.







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       1             I'm not saying that we shouldn't have the

       2      Common Core, we shouldn't have testing.

       3             But not the amount that it's -- where we're

       4      at right now.

       5             And that's not being transparent.

       6             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  So within reason, and

       7      I would pose this question to each of you, if you

       8      could direct State Ed, say, I've got one shot, we're

       9      each going to get one bite at the apple here --

      10             William, I'll start with you.

      11             -- what would you say, "Here's what I would

      12      like to see changed"?

      13             WILLIAM BOATWRIGHT:  I really think it's

      14      about the practitioner.

      15             I think we have to ensure that every teacher

      16      that's coming out of college with a teaching degree

      17      goes in with the understanding that their role, as

      18      an educator, is completely different.  There's a

      19      completely different set of skills, a different

      20      knowledge base, that's required.

      21             Regardless of testing, regardless of

      22      standards, we have to have a teaching core that is

      23      at the level of the twenty-first-century standards

      24      and skills that we want to introduce and produce in

      25      our students so that they can compete again







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       1      internationally.

       2             So, to me, that's the key leverage point.

       3             GENELLE MORRIS:  For me, I would be in

       4      support of a phased-in Common Core initiative.

       5             So, I think Colorado did it best, where they

       6      phase it in over a five-year period.

       7             So as a parent, I have a student who's now,

       8      she just entered in fifth grade, I received her

       9      parent report just like every other parent across

      10      the state.

      11             If I had seen that this is how she performed

      12      on the Common Core assessment, but when we

      13      transition, here's where she will be, then that

      14      prepares me as a parent.

      15             I see, year one, here's where she is, and

      16      then next year I can have a conversation with her

      17      teacher, How can we best prepare her?

      18             And then as we work together, year two, we

      19      can see, okay, now, this is the type of progress, so

      20      that when it finally gets fully implemented, as a

      21      parent, it's not a shell-shock for me, it's not a

      22      shell-shock for my daughter, it's not a shell-shock

      23      for students.

      24             And, also, when you look at the systems, the

      25      systems are buckling under the capacity that we're







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       1      asking them to assume.

       2             So, we're creating 300 tests because we're

       3      told to do that.

       4             Are they good tests?  We don't know.

       5             Are they reliable tests?  Who knows?

       6             And, yet, we're using them to make

       7      high-stakes decisions.

       8             So if I were in charge of the world and

       9      everything in it, I would just say I would want to

      10      phase this in so that we can do it, and do it right.

      11             Why do it if we're not going to do it right?

      12             KEVEN EBERLE:  There's 697 school districts

      13      in the state of New York, and one governing body

      14      controls them all, and I'm an advocate of small

      15      learning communities.

      16             My dissertation was on small learning

      17      communities.

      18             We need to make it smaller, and we need to

      19      bring it back to local capacity.

      20             Right now you have basic exams and tests that

      21      are out there in sort of cyberspace that no one

      22      knows about, and they can't really -- and, again, we

      23      heard it earlier:  Don't teach to the test; teach

      24      rigor.

      25             People don't know what "rigor" is.







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       1             But if you bring it back to the local, like

       2      it was back in the '70s, '80, '90s, I mean, there's

       3      a whole bunch of doctors and lawyers and senators,

       4      State Senators sitting here, that were educated back

       5      in the '70s, that did not have the assessments that

       6      we have today.

       7             And I just want to make it clear, that

       8      there's a lot of stuff that did go well, and right

       9      now it's going to the extreme.

      10             And I think local capacity was where it was,

      11      and it was local control.

      12             Right now, with the state control of one

      13      system, brings a lot of lobbyists and a lot of

      14      control to book companies into the picture.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Questions?

      16             Thank you very much.

      17             Really do appreciate your patience.

      18             And we are coming up to our last group, and

      19      our sheet has on there, David Hursh, who's a

      20      professor from the University of Rochester, but

      21      we're going to have him joined by Mr. Radford.

      22             Mr. Radford, I know there's a proper title

      23      for the council you're involved in, and I am going

      24      to have you say it so I don't mess it up.

      25             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Okay.







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       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  But we're going to let

       2      Professor Hursh go first; all right?

       3             So what's the name of the -- it's the

       4      Parent...?

       5             DAVID HURSH:  District Parent Coordinating

       6      Council.

       7             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  "Coordinating Council"?

       8             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Yeah, DPCC.

       9             Yeah, District Parent Coordinating Council.

      10             DAVID HURSH:  Hi.

      11             So, first of all, we are the last group, so

      12      I want to thank everyone who's still here, for being

      13      here, and especially the two folks who are giving me

      14      a ride back to Rochester.

      15             And I want to thank you for holding these

      16      hearings, because I think it's really important that

      17      we return education to the state and local level.

      18             One of my concerns is that the federal

      19      government, and also wealthy foundations,

      20      particularly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,

      21      are the foundations that are funding the

      22      Common Core, and other organizations that are

      23      supporting it, and that we really need to look into

      24      how -- what kind of education we want, and have the

      25      discussion about what we want schools to do, and not







                                                                  285
       1      leave it up to those people who are wealthy

       2      determining what we should be doing.

       3             I will try to be very brief.

       4             So, I've been in education for over 40 years.

       5             I've been studying, as a professor of

       6      education, the consequences of standardized testing

       7      in New York for -- as I said, for 25 years.

       8             And in my testimony that I sent you, which

       9      I'm not going to go into in any depth, but I just

      10      want to give a hint of it for the rest of the people

      11      that are here, is the one thing that I was trying to

      12      persuade you about, is that we cannot believe -- or

      13      the standardized test scores that we receive are not

      14      objective, and they are not valid.

      15             They have -- in fact, when I have talked to

      16      the State Education Department and tried to get

      17      results from them, they say they run no tests of

      18      validity on their exams.

      19             So I wanted to call into question the exams

      20      themselves and the test scores, and that we should

      21      not be driven by those test-score results.

      22             I gave some examples of how the test scores

      23      are manipulated.

      24             And at the secondary level, we've seen the

      25      Physics and Living Environments exams, the scores go







                                                                  286
       1      up and down, basically, dependent on the cut score

       2      that's been set by the commissioner, so that we

       3      have -- in order to pass the Living Environments

       4      exam, you only need to get 39 percent of the

       5      questions right.

       6             Then the commissioner changed his mind and

       7      wanted to have a rigorous exam, and gave a physics

       8      exam in which -- in fact, 39 percent of the students

       9      who took the physics exam failed.

      10             And then after declaring that, and this was

      11      Commissioner Mills, he said that that was objective,

      12      and he stood by it.

      13             Eventually then pressured, actually by state

      14      superintendents, to rescale the score so that more

      15      students would pass.

      16             And so we've seen that.

      17              We've also seen that the scores on the

      18      elementary tests have gone up.

      19             I've talked to superintendents who tell me

      20      that, in fact, they know that the scores are going

      21      up unrealistically, and that they really don't

      22      represent what's going on in schools.

      23             And just to -- at least one thing I agree

      24      with Chancellor Tisch about, is that, last year, she

      25      said, in fact, the test scores were ridiculously







                                                                  287
       1      inflated and not believable, and she rescaled the

       2      scores and they came down to about two-thirds of

       3      where they were.

       4             So test scores are something that we should

       5      not be setting policy by, we need to question those.

       6             So now we have the Common Core exam, and we

       7      find out that 31 percent of our students are

       8      proficient, and one of the questions I want to ask

       9      is, What does that mean?

      10             On one hand, I know that students often

      11      weren't getting -- the teachers weren't getting the

      12      curriculum that they're gonna be tested on, the

      13      teachers didn't have time to implement the

      14      curriculum that they're gonna be tested on, and the

      15      teachers didn't know what the tests would be

      16      covering.

      17             So maybe 31 percent is pretty good, or, maybe

      18      it's not.  We really have no way of knowing.

      19             Commissioner King decided that -- or declared

      20      that, in fact, 31 percent was a good thing, and that

      21      this would provide us, and I'm quoting, a baseline.

      22             And one of the questions I want to have is,

      23      In what way is it a good thing?

      24             And, we've had 20 years of standardized

      25      tests.







                                                                  288
       1             We've always had standardized tests, but

       2      high-stakes tests in New York.

       3             And I want to question that we've had, in

       4      fact, a Reform Agenda based on standardized testing,

       5      and if, after 20 years of standardized testing, it

       6      really is the case that only 31 percent of our

       7      students are proficient, then maybe that reform

       8      movement is not really working.

       9             Secondly, I know that Commissioner King and

      10      Merryl Tisch said that they guaranteed test scores

      11      would improve next year, and not to worry.

      12             And the concern that I have is, well, we know

      13      that they can manipulate the test scores -- the

      14      cut scores, and, in fact, I would give you

      15      100 to 1 odds that, in fact, their test scores will

      16      be going up next year, because they're gonna make

      17      sure they do go up and they look good.

      18             And we've seen this, historically, that

      19      test scores have gone up and down, often to make

      20      commissioners and others look good.

      21             Let me cut to the last half of this:

      22             I'm concerned about, then, how tests drive

      23      curriculum.

      24             I've worked in schools doing many interesting

      25      things over the years.







                                                                  289
       1             I had a grant from the National Institute of

       2      Environmental Health Sciences, where I was working

       3      with students in a school district on issues of

       4      environmental health: air and water pollution.

       5             Students were doing research on herbicides

       6      and pesticides.

       7             They also decided to do research on pet

       8      waste, which was, at first, a research topic that

       9      I originally pooh-poohed.  I didn't think pet waste

      10      was really that important, but, in fact, it was.

      11             And students were doing -- creating websites,

      12      doing research, finding alternatives.

      13             And then, when I came back the next year to

      14      do that with students, this was about the third or

      15      fourth year, told that I -- that this was before we

      16      had as many tests as we do now, that the school

      17      could no longer support having anybody else come in

      18      because they have to prepare students for

      19      English-language arts exam, and then a math exam,

      20      and then social studies.

      21             Lastly, I've been in this business for

      22      40 years.

      23             I've never been as pessimistic as I am now,

      24      because the tests are really driving out of schools

      25      really excellent teachers.







                                                                  290
       1             The best teachers that I know of have been

       2      leaving schools in droves.

       3             And student teachers, while we know -- I did

       4      research about, "What was the enrollment in the

       5      teacher education programs in the Rochester area?"

       6      and it's down about 50 percent from 3 years ago,

       7      because people are no longer seeing teaching as a

       8      profession that they should enter, and when they go

       9      in and they do student teaching, and they go into

      10      the schools, the cooperating teachers tell them:

      11             Don't come here.  Change your mind, go do

      12      something else as a profession.  Don't become a

      13      teacher, because it's not something that you'll be

      14      respected for, and it's not something where you'll

      15      be able to use your mind and intelligence.

      16             So people are not entering, and people are

      17      leaving it, and we're losing the best minds of a

      18      generation.

      19             Lastly, my recommendations would be:

      20             That we try figure out, and I agree with much

      21      of what's been said in the previous presentation, we

      22      need to develop schools, not based on test scores,

      23      but on trust.

      24             We trust teachers and we work with teachers

      25      to make sure that they're good.  We work with







                                                                  291
       1      schools to ensure that they're good.

       2             We should follow -- and this would take a

       3      long time to get to -- I would recommend the book

       4      "Finnish Lessons," which talks about the education

       5      program in the nation of Finland.

       6             It took them 20 years to do this -- and I'm

       7      planning to be here for 20 years to help you do

       8      this -- but what they've done is, they do not

       9      have -- they have one standardized test: the SAT.

      10             They have a standardized test that's similar

      11      to our NAEP exam, which they give to a cross-section

      12      of students, just to get a sense of how the

      13      country's doing.

      14             And, they have no other standardized tests

      15      throughout the history of the students' career in

      16      education.

      17             And what they focused on, is having teachers

      18      develop curriculum, develop pedagogy, develop

      19      reports, and really just learn what's going on, and

      20      support teachers to do their best.

      21             The last one is, Dan -- I know Dan Drmacich

      22      was here earlier.

      23             He was the principal at School Without Walls

      24      in New York City, part of the Performance Consortium

      25      of Schools, and they, for years, only gave one test,







                                                                  292
       1      and had 90 percent of their students going on to

       2      college, where 50 percent of the students in the

       3      districts in which they're located, most of them are

       4      New York City, only graduated from high school.

       5             So we have examples of schools that don't use

       6      a lot of -- that don't use, in fact, any

       7      standardized testing, and have been very successful.

       8             So thank you for your time, and I hope you

       9      still have energy to ask a question or two.

      10             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Mr. Radford.

      11             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Sam Radford, president,

      12      District Parent Coordinating Council.

      13             First of all, Senator Flanagan, and Senators,

      14      thank you very much for this opportunity.

      15             I've been here all day, and with the

      16      exception of Carrie Remis, I don't know that anybody

      17      has represented the parents that I represent.

      18             I'm the president for the District Parent

      19      Coordinating Council.

      20             We have representatives from all 60 schools

      21      in Buffalo public schools, most of which are failing

      22      schools.  45 of them are failing schools.

      23             And I've heard a lot of people's vested

      24      interests talked about here, but I didn't hear it

      25      from the urban schools' context that affect the







                                                                  293
       1      parents that I represent.

       2             I'm also a parent.  I have three children in

       3      Buffalo public schools.

       4             And, you know, there -- right now, I think is

       5      the greatest time in the history of Buffalo public

       6      schools to be a parent in Buffalo public schools.

       7             I've been a parent in Buffalo public schools

       8      for 20 years, and right now is the best time in the

       9      history of it, and there's two reasons why it's the

      10      best time.

      11             The first reason why is, because of the

      12      Say Yes to Education opportunity.

      13             Right now, every child that graduates from a

      14      Buffalo public or charter school has a guaranteed

      15      college education paid for.

      16             That's an opportunity that we have to seize

      17      the moment on and take advantage of, because that

      18      opportunity is not one that we've had, and it can --

      19      and it's a game-changer, it can make the difference

      20      for all of our children.

      21             The second reason why it's the best time for

      22      education, for children and for parents in Buffalo

      23      public schools, is the Regents Reform Agenda; and

      24      the reason why the Regents Reform Agenda is so

      25      important to urban school districts is because it







                                                                  294
       1      challenges the status quo.

       2             Almost -- a lot of this testimony here we

       3      heard today, basically, all it's talking about is

       4      how we maintain the status quo.

       5             And the reality, as far as I'm concerned,

       6      everybody's right.

       7             Everybody's subjectively right.  They're

       8      right from their perspective.

       9             Right?

      10             But the reality is, people who have a -- who

      11      have an education system that's working for them

      12      now, they're not interested in all this change.

      13             They're saying, Slow down, slow down.  You

      14      know, don't do so much.  You know, give us more

      15      time.

      16             They don't want a lot of change, right,

      17      because they don't have to have a sense of urgency.

      18             By and large, most of the teachers and

      19      administrators that came down here and presented,

      20      their children go to great schools.  Their children

      21      go to suburban schools where they have 70, 80,

      22      90 percent graduation rates.

      23             That's not what's going on in the urban

      24      school districts.  We have 30, 40, 50 percent

      25      graduation rates, and we need the sense of urgency.







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       1             We need what the Regents -- the Board of

       2      Regents is doing, we need what the Commissioner is

       3      doing.

       4             And, so, we support the Regents Reform Agenda

       5      100 percent.

       6             We're asking that the -- that their goal of

       7      graduating all students become what we as a whole

       8      state buy into.

       9             Not buy into the fact that some of our

      10      children are getting by right now, and let's slow

      11      down, let's keep getting them through, but let's all

      12      of us all sit back and say, Wait a minute.  We have

      13      a very good employment system.  We provide job

      14      security for a lot of people, you know, within this

      15      educational system.

      16             But if we are measuring objectively our

      17      capacity to educate all children, especially in

      18      light of the fact that we spend more money than any

      19      other state in the country, objectively, how are we

      20      doing?

      21             Objectively, should we be moving slow?

      22             Objectively, what is going on?

      23             Objectively, we need to be doing way better,

      24      particularly in urban school districts.

      25             As far as I'm concerned, the Regents Reform







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       1      Agenda, where it says, "Graduate all students, and

       2      turn around the lowest-achieving schools," all of us

       3      have a collective responsibility to support that, to

       4      invest in that.

       5             There is a fundamental difference, as far as

       6      I'm concerned, to the extent, between suburban and

       7      urban school districts.

       8             And to the extent that they want to us slow

       9      down in the suburban school districts, we're asking

      10      you to double the pace in the urban school district.

      11             People say we're ignoring the research.

      12             What I suggest is, that we're ignoring the

      13      results.

      14             I mean, at the end of the day, to talk to me

      15      about research, when the reality is, you judge a

      16      tree by the fruit that it bears, the fruit that

      17      we're bearing is not a good -- we're not getting the

      18      best bang for our buck.

      19             So what do you want us to research?

      20             The reality is, let's look at the results.

      21             If you were doing such a great job, we

      22      wouldn't even be having this conversation.

      23             You're only vulnerable to people being

      24      critical of what you're doing because you're not

      25      doing such a good job.







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       1             So the question is:  Stop defending a bad

       2      job.

       3             So why don't we all come together and say,

       4      Listen, we can all do better.

       5             I'm not saying that somebody's at fault.

       6             I'm saying, collectively, we can do better,

       7      we should do better, and we should not make excuses

       8      for the fact that we have not done better.

       9             So what ultimately we're supporting at the

      10      end of the day -- well, let me just make this point:

      11             Earlier it was said that poverty is the

      12      issue.

      13             And I just want to make that clear:  I don't

      14      see that poverty is the issue at all.

      15             People who try to justify our failure, based

      16      on poverty, I think is an insult.

      17             I was a detention-center director.

      18             We had a teacher that came in there, her name

      19      was Mrs. Holmes [ph.].

      20             And I don't want to take up a lot of time

      21      with this point, but, Mrs. Holmes came into the

      22      detention center after three teachers had been run

      23      out of this place.

      24             Right?

      25             Mrs. Holmes came in, for two days she didn't







                                                                  298
       1      teach at all.

       2             For two days, she sat down and she asked

       3      these children --

       4             Now, you understand, that this is a detention

       5      center, so these are the children that are

       6      challenged, they're in trouble, behavioral

       7      issues...all the stuff that we talking about.

       8             Mrs. Holmes sat there for two days and she

       9      just listened to kids.

      10             She said, "What do you like to do?"

      11             "What do you like to do?"

      12             One liked cooking.

      13             One liked to do race cars.

      14             One liked sports.

      15             And she went through the process of finding

      16      out what they liked to do.

      17             And after two days, she came in with an

      18      individualized education plan for each one of those

      19      students, and she -- basically, she found -- she got

      20      one reading the comic books, she got one reading the

      21      sports page, she got one reading cookbooks.

      22             And what I'm telling you is that, before

      23      that, I would go -- I would get called on a regular

      24      basis over to the school.

      25             Then the third day, when Mrs. Holmes was







                                                                  299
       1      there, we had kids sitting down, quiet, waiting to

       2      go school.

       3             I said, "What's going on here?"

       4             They said, "We got to do our report for

       5      Mrs. Holmes."

       6             They were excited about learning again.

       7             They would come back from the detention

       8      program and they would be doing homework.

       9             I'm like, "What happened to those children?"

      10             What happened was, somebody knew what they

      11      was doing.

      12             She cared.

      13             She didn't make no excuses about their

      14      behavior, about their race, about their poverty; she

      15      didn't make none of them.

      16             She found out -- she said, If the child can

      17      learn anything; they can learn to play the game,

      18      they can learn to read the comic books, they can

      19      learn to play the sports, they can learn anything.

      20             And she committed to teaching those children.

      21             So what I'm saying is, that I'm tired of

      22      hearing all excuses.

      23             If the teachers that don't want to do it,

      24      don't want do it, let them not do it.

      25             Let the ones who are passionate about







                                                                  300
       1      teaching, who ain't making excuses about people's

       2      poverty, who ain't making excuses about where people

       3      come from; who are saying, "We can do it," let them

       4      teach.

       5             If you let us all get to it, we'll get a

       6      better out.

       7             And let me just make this the closing

       8      statement:  That there is -- there was a

       9      conversation earlier, talked about the rule of law.

      10             You know, and I thought that was a very

      11      interesting conversation, especially in light of the

      12      fact that we, as the parents of the Buffalo public

      13      schools right now are facing the fact that we had

      14      2,219 parents.

      15             And, now, you know, the demographic of our

      16      parent, we talk about, 70 percent of our parents

      17      are single parents.  We're talking about 50 percent

      18      of them don't have transportation.  We talk about

      19      the vast majority of our parents have an hourly job.

      20             2,219, over -- almost 10 percent of the

      21      eligible parents had the option to transfer their

      22      children out of failing schools into schools in

      23      good-standing, based on the law.

      24             The local school district told us, when we

      25      went and asked them to be comply -- to be compliant







                                                                  301
       1      with the law, you know what they said?

       2             They said, "No, we won't comply with the

       3      law."

       4             If it had not been for the State Education

       5      Department coming in and ruling that, No, you can't

       6      violate the law.  You are out of compliance with the

       7      law.  You, by law, must move all 2,219 of those

       8      children.

       9             After State Education Department came in and

      10      told them me must move them, you know what they

      11      said?

      12             They said, "We can't move them."

      13             It went from "we won't move them" to

      14      "we can't move them."

      15             So now, here we are -- and that ruling came

      16      out on May 29th.

      17             We, in October -- mid-October, all -- 200 of

      18      the 2,219 parents have been moved.

      19             So when you got over 2,000 families who have

      20      made a decision that they want better for their

      21      children, who have been denied the right to move

      22      their children, against the law.

      23             We have a law that says you're supposed to

      24      have 120 hours of physical education in this

      25      district.







                                                                  302
       1             We get 80 to 90 -- I mean, 120 minutes of

       2      physical education.

       3             We get 80 to 90.

       4             So laws are being broken as it relates to

       5      parents, all day, every day.

       6             The 100.11 say, you're supposed to have

       7      school-based planning, shared decision-making.

       8      Parents are supposed to be at the table, part of the

       9      decision-making.

      10             We had to go to the State Education

      11      Department to force the local school district to

      12      give us the right to be at the table to be part of

      13      decision-making.

      14             And they had to send them back three times to

      15      have them consult with us.

      16             So this stuff about some kind of way the rule

      17      of law should be governing what we do is, as far as

      18      I'm concerned, disingenuous by the people who's

      19      sharing it, because that's not -- it's not happening

      20      for the people among us who need it the most.

      21             In summary, I'm asking you to -- we support

      22      charters;

      23             We support APPR;

      24             We support the Common Core;

      25             We support John King;







                                                                  303
       1             We support the Regents Reform Agenda.

       2             We're asking to add to this conversation,

       3      vouchers.

       4             We -- at the end of the day, if you ask for

       5      one thing that will make the difference, put the

       6      power in the hands of the parent to make the choice.

       7             Don't impose, don't require us.

       8             We literally have, right now what's going on,

       9      the BTF is looking to repeal the law that gives us

      10      the right to move our kids out of failing schools.

      11             Don't worry about repealing the law.

      12             Just give us the right to send our children

      13      where we want to send our children.

      14             Put the money in our hands and let us send

      15      the children, wherever.

      16             Don't condemn them to be in failing schools,

      17      against their will, because that's what's going on

      18      right now.

      19             We are condemning children to being in

      20      failing schools, against their will, and listen to

      21      the people rationalize that.

      22             They got a rational justification why we

      23      should keep these children in failing schools.

      24             So we're asking for the LPO [ph.] reform,

      25      we're asking for parent trigger; all these things we







                                                                  304
       1      think will go a long way in resolving the problem.

       2             And the last point is, that money cannot be

       3      the issue.

       4             Money cannot be the issue.

       5             The whole idea -- the superintendent of

       6      Buffalo public schools sat here today and said, For

       7      those schools who we gave the additional $2 million

       8      to for a year to three years, that we need to

       9      continue to give them the money?

      10             Do you know what the intention of that money

      11      was?

      12             The intention of the funds were to say, that,

      13      Listen, this was already a failing school.

      14             What we are trying to do is give you

      15      additional money so you can turn the school around,

      16      so to see if money is the issue.

      17             Three out of the four of them schools didn't

      18      hit the AYP, even when we gave them additional

      19      money.

      20             So don't keep giving them more and more

      21      money.

      22             I don't think giving more money is the

      23      solution.

      24             At the end of the day, what should have

      25      happened, according to the rules, according to the







                                                                  305
       1      law, was that we should have shut the school down.

       2             Give them the money for three years, and then

       3      shut the school down if they cannot turn it around.

       4             We got to stop making excuses for failure.

       5             I think we as a state can do better.

       6             We as the parents want to be part of a

       7      process of doing better.

       8             We thank you for giving us this opportunity

       9      to put our position on the record, because we don't

      10      often get this opportunity.

      11             So, thank you again.

      12             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  All righty then.

      13             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  That was a good way to

      14      end.

      15             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Sam, you certainly did not

      16      lack clarity.

      17             Senator Gallivan.

      18             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  A couple questions.

      19             The first has to do, we heard from a number

      20      of different people who testified today, and then,

      21      of course, the public accounts of it.

      22             The language barriers; I mean, we've seen the

      23      demographic of Buffalo change, different populations

      24      come in.

      25             What are your comments or thoughts about the







                                                                  306
       1      challenges provided, in the short term, with these

       2      language barriers?

       3             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Yeah, we actually went to

       4      Washington and we looked at models all across the

       5      country where people are not making excuses about

       6      the language barrier.

       7             Part of the reason why we struggle with the

       8      language-barrier issue, is because we're trying to

       9      protect the teacher who is not prepared to teach

      10      that child with the language -- that has a language

      11      barrier.

      12             If we start taking people from those

      13      countries and those communities and we make them

      14      teachers and teacher's aide, you don't necessarily

      15      have to have a certified teacher, who may be

      16      certified to teach, and she may be -- he or she may

      17      be certified, but they're not necessarily qualified

      18      to teach this person with this English-language

      19      learner.

      20             So you have to get English-language learners,

      21      people who have experience, people who can speak the

      22      language, who can get that child through, because

      23      that certified teacher who has no relationship to

      24      the language is not the best person to be teaching

      25      that child.







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       1             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Second question, not to --

       2      and this is not asking for your comment or opinion

       3      about any one individual, current or former:

       4             I have seen different people in Buffalo put

       5      the idea of mayoral-control forward.

       6             We see in it New York, we see in it Yonkers,

       7      out of the Big Five.

       8             While the results are not great, the tests --

       9      the results of the tests -- I guess -- how do I say

      10      it -- they have better scores, better results, in

      11      New York and Yonkers than the --

      12             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Right, I think --

      13             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  -- the cities without

      14      mayoral control.

      15             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Yeah, I think the issue

      16      raises the governance model.

      17             Right now, the evidence shows us the

      18      governance model that we have don't work.

      19             Look at, historically, has Buffalo's

      20      graduation rate ever been over 60 percent?

      21             We're talking about a state average of

      22      80 percent.

      23             Tell me, in the history of Buffalo public

      24      schools, has it ever been over 60 percent?

      25             And the answer is "no."







                                                                  308
       1             So the governance model we have don't work.

       2             So I agree with you, whether it's mayoral

       3      control, whether it's some combination of mayoral

       4      control/elected school board, I mean, whatever it

       5      is, the important thing is, we can't do -- we can't

       6      continue what we're doing right now.

       7             As a matter of fact, the very design that we

       8      have now, right now, we elect -- I live in the

       9      east district.

      10             My children go to school in the west district

      11      and in the north district.

      12             Right?

      13             So if I have an issue, the person who

      14      I elected to office is not the person who I go talk

      15      to.

      16             So we -- so even the system is not aligned

      17      with the process by which we elect the people to the

      18      position.  It's based on the old district model.

      19             Now we have a school-choice model.

      20             Now you can go -- supposedly, you're able to

      21      go anywhere in the district for school.

      22             So I think the governance model is outdated.

      23             I think the evidence shows that it don't

      24      work.

      25             And I think that anything that moves us







                                                                  309
       1      forward is better than doing what we know for sure

       2      don't work.

       3             And I think mayoral control should be

       4      considered seriously.

       5             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  And the other leads into

       6      the -- the question is really connected.

       7             The model that you see in the suburban

       8      schools, the central school district, where the

       9      budget is put forward before the citizens, the

      10      citizens vote.  It's laid out there for everybody to

      11      see.

      12             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Yeah, on two levels.

      13             I mean, I think that is a great question,

      14      because part of our problem right now in Buffalo, is

      15      that we actually -- when we're talking about

      16      statewide, actually, Buffalo is a microcosm of that.

      17             Some of our children in Buffalo get a great

      18      education.

      19             You know, we have 45 failing schools, we got

      20      12 schools in good-standing.

      21             Some of them get a great education.

      22             I mean, when it's all said and done, if we

      23      set up more of a suburban model, which is that, if

      24      you live in a suburban community, there's no way you

      25      gonna to take my tax dollars and give some of my







                                                                  310
       1      children a high-quality education and the rest of

       2      them get a crappy education.

       3             There's no way you're gonna do that.

       4             You do that in Buffalo because we don't get

       5      to vote on our budget.  We don't even get to see our

       6      budget as parents, being real frank about it.

       7             So we need the right as a -- and I know --

       8      I -- we've researched this, we know this wall is

       9      over 120,000, all that stuff, we get that.

      10             But at the end of the day, we need the right

      11      to be able to see the budget and vote on the budget.

      12             I mean, if you've been following the news,

      13      you know better than most, that we get this whole

      14      appearance that we're saving money, when we're

      15      actually spending more money.

      16             And there's no way to vet that, except to

      17      believe the people who, you know, are on the school

      18      board.

      19             So I think that (a) we should, you know, get

      20      the right to vote our school budget, (b) that we

      21      should change our school system from this

      22      criteria-based system where some kids get a great

      23      education, and we have this two-tiered education

      24      system, to a school system more like the suburban

      25      model where you have advanced placement,







                                                                  311
       1      vocational ed, art, music, all that, in every

       2      building, and every child gets a great education.

       3             SENATOR GALLIVAN:  Thank you.

       4             Thank you, Chairman.

       5             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Two quick things.

       6             Dr. Hursh, I do think that we should have

       7      more focus on the NAEP test.

       8             There is a -- I think one of the challenges

       9      with that is, it's hard enough to get people to

      10      understand all the other things.

      11             But I just, at some point, maybe we can have

      12      some more focus on that.

      13             And, Mr. Radford, we appreciate you showing

      14      up.

      15             And, in retrospect, I probably would have had

      16      a couple of other questions for people who testified

      17      earlier had you testified sooner.

      18             So --

      19             DAVID HURSH:  Well, the issue with the NAEP

      20      test, in fact, is that -- which is a standardized

      21      test that's given to samples of population across --

      22      in states, and across the country, and in cities.

      23             And, in fact, our NAEP scores have been

      24      improving for years leading up to this -- to the

      25      rise of standardized testing.







                                                                  312
       1             And, in fact, they've been going down.

       2             And New York City has been going down

       3      substantially, with the increased emphasis on

       4      testing.

       5             And I think the one place we might agree, the

       6      two of us, is you mentioned an example of a teacher

       7      who was able to build on what the students were

       8      interested in.

       9             And one of the things that I'm concerned

      10      about is, under the more standardized tests and the

      11      standardized curriculum, is, do teachers have the

      12      ability to actually respond to students' interests,

      13      build on those, and build unique curriculum for

      14      their districts?

      15             So I think we need to think about more

      16      creative ways that we can do that.

      17             Thank you.

      18             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  You know what?  I'll just

      19      close on a couple of very basic things.

      20             First of all, I really want to thank

      21      Senator Gallivan for joining us for the entire day.

      22             And, thank the people in Buffalo for their

      23      hospitality.

      24             And I think I failed to say this earlier

      25      today:







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       1             There is nothing -- going back to your

       2      example -- there is nothing more effective and more

       3      important than having a good-quality teacher in

       4      front of the classroom.

       5             As a parallel, and a very close second, there

       6      is nothing equally as important than parental

       7      involvement, and parental support, and parental

       8      leadership, even when things aren't always going so

       9      well.

      10             So, those two things alone make a huge

      11      difference.

      12             We can come up with money, and that's one of

      13      our primary functions.

      14             But, this is going to conclude our third

      15      hearing.

      16             We have two more, as you all heard.

      17             We have one in New York City on the 29th of

      18      October, and then we have one in Albany on

      19      November 13th.

      20             We will be -- just for everyone's

      21      edification, we will receive written comments

      22      through November 15th.

      23             So, if people want to comment after the last

      24      hearing, we want to make sure that those who want to

      25      be heard have that opportunity.







                                                                  314
       1             And, I hope everyone has an enjoyable --

       2             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Can I make one more point,

       3      just about the last thing you said?

       4             I mean, it's real short.

       5             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  Go ahead.

       6             SAMUEL RADFORD:  Okay, real short.

       7             Because I know Carrie Remis brought it up

       8      earlier, and people before said it wasn't really

       9      special interests, but we really have no way to have

      10      a unfettered parent voice in this conversation,

      11      because, obviously, the teachers have a union, the

      12      administrators have a union, superintendents, you

      13      know, have their own representation, school boards

      14      have their representation.

      15             Generally, when we hear from parents, we hear

      16      from parent-teacher associations, which means that

      17      you can get down what you had down in Poughkeepsie,

      18      you can get that, because the teachers can highjack

      19      the part of the parent-teacher association.

      20             You don't have a protected parent voice that

      21      reflects, especially in it's -- especially important

      22      in urban school district, where the vast majority of

      23      teachers don't live in the community.

      24             So in a suburban school district where they

      25      live, and teachers and parents are the same people;







                                                                  315
       1      but, in an urban school district, where the parent's

       2      voice may be very different from the teacher's

       3      voice, there's no -- there's no process.

       4             We have something close in Buffalo, because

       5      our District Parent Coordinating Council does not

       6      have teacher votes on it.  We -- only parents vote

       7      in that.

       8             You know what I'm saying?

       9             But that doesn't necessarily happen at the

      10      building level.  That's just our district process.

      11             So in the state, thinking about that, if we

      12      could come up with a process that protects the

      13      parent interests as an independent body, separate

      14      from the parent-teacher association, so that we

      15      don't get the clouded voice of the teachers mixed in

      16      with what may be specific parent interests, because

      17      teacher interests, in this particular case, is very

      18      different than what parent interests are, as far as

      19      I'm concerned.

      20             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  I would say this in

      21      response, and take this with a measure of affection:

      22             I am fairly confident that whether you live

      23      in Buffalo or you live in Huntington where I live,

      24      your voice would be heard.  You're not shy.

      25                  [Laughter.]







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       1             SENATOR FLANAGAN:  But we also -- look, we

       2      have a democratic process.  We have duly elected

       3      school boards.

       4             One of our newer colleagues from the school

       5      board was here today, Jim Sampson; obviously has a

       6      breadth of experience.

       7             And, people don't always to have agree with

       8      him, but he was duly elected.

       9             Linda Hoffman is still here, and patiently

      10      staying all day.

      11             And one of the great equalizing factors for

      12      us, whether we're doing things well or not, is that,

      13      every two years, we have to stand for election, and,

      14      frankly, every four years, so does the Governor.

      15             So that alone should be a good indication of

      16      how things could be.

      17             Certainly, I respect your frustrations, but

      18      keep at it, because I'm sure you make a difference

      19      every day.

      20             Gentlemen, thank you very much.

      21                  (Whereupon, at approximately 4:26 p.m.,

      22        the public hearing held before the New York State

      23        Senate Standing Committee on Education concluded,

      24        and adjourned.)

      25                            ---oOo---