The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 30, 2013

Push has come to shove for area educators

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — Educational issues have been in the news lately. Among the local stories is the proposed merger study between Worcester Central School and Schenevus Central School, which will not receive state funding.

The schools had applied for state assistance to examine the issues around such a move. There were 18 school-related applications filed last year with the state for such funding. Only two were approved. The state allocated about $4 million to fund merger studies this year — about $85,000, or just over 2 percent, went to fund school studies. The remainder of the funds went to fund studies for municipalities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced the State University of New York is now accepting applications for the New York State Master Teacher Program in six additional regions, completing the initiative’s statewide expansion plans. After the first selection of 104 master teachers announced last month, up to 561 additional teachers across the state will be selected to serve as master teachers in this second round of applications. The New York State Master Teacher Program was established by Cuomo in 2013 to identify, reward, and support master STEM educators. The first cohort of 104 teachers was announced last month. The role of master teachers as professional mentors and content experts is key to developing the current group of outstanding educators as well as inspiring future teachers.

Applications for all ten regions of the state can be submitted online until January 3, 2014 at www.suny.edu/MasterTeacher/.

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But much of the news has been about state and federal testing and the Common Core.

According to a recent poll by the New York State School Board Association, members overwhelmingly support eliminating double-testing of eighth-graders in math. Eighty-four percent of board members believe the state should seek a waiver from the federal government to allow eighth-grade students who take the Regents Algebra 1 exam to skip the regular eighth-grade math test. Twelve percent of respondents believe the state should not seek a waiver, while four percent were not sure.

Currently, eighth-grade students who take accelerated math are required by the U.S. Department of Education to take both the Regents Algebra 1 exam and the grade 8 mathematics exam. The state Board of Regents has authorized the state education commissioner to ask for a waiver.

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The Oneonta Area for Public Education recently help sponsored a discussion on the Common Core and its implementation. The group is dedicated to informing the rural communities in and around Oneonta, about current education reforms and their impact on teachers, parents, students, children, and taxpayers, according to its website. Issues include high-stakes testing, excessive standardized testing, opting out of such tests, the Common Core, teacher evaluation, student data-sharing, scripted curriculum, modules, and many other education-related topics.

Despite a better than national average increase in state standardized tests, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, state Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said the results indicate more work is needed.

“We all share the same common goal: that every student in New York graduates college and career ready,” he said. “I’m encouraged by the progress I’ve seen in classrooms around the state and the hard work educators are doing to help their students succeed. But the NAEP results for New York students confirm what we already know: our students are not where they should be. There’s some growth, but scores are relatively flat and there is still an unacceptable achievement gap for minority students. The Board of Regents is committed to making sure New York students are leading the pack. There is still work to do. But last year New York’s Common Core assessments gave us a new baseline to work from. Our students deserve a world-class education that prepares them for life after high school. The Common Core will help our students get there.”

Mark Boshnack is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact him at mboshnack@thedailystar.com.