Friday, July 08, 2011

Articles on DOE from The Chief: Liu on DOE Contract With NTP, NYSUT Sues on Teacher Evals, More Cheating Scandals


DOE, Liu Clash Over Payments on
Contracts He Previously Vetoed

JOHN C. LIU: DOE violating state law.

Posted: Friday, July 1, 2011
5:00 pm | Updated: 11:45 am, Wed Jul 6, 2011.

By DAVID SIMS | 0 comments

The Department of Education is continuing to pay money to controversial contractors
in defiance of rulings by his office, City Comptroller John C. Liu has charged,
with DOE countering that the deals were legal and Mr. Liu was acting improperly
by putting holds on the payouts.

The agency succeeded in paying $287,000 to the New Teacher Project, a
Teacher recruitment company, and tried to pay $1.3 million to Wireless
Generation, a technology company, but that payment was halted by the
Comptroller’s Office.

Questioned Legality of

Both contracts were rejected by Mr. Liu earlier this year, but Assistant
Corporation Counsel Steven Stein Cushman argued in a letter that the rejections
had not been legal under the Education Law and thus were not accepted by DOE.

Mr. Liu in March vetoed the DOE’s contract with The New Teacher Project,
which manages the NYC Teaching Fellows program for the city, on the grounds
that it had failed to specify certain information on its VENDEX form, which
monitors conflicts of interest.

Publicly, he criticized DOE for spending money on Teacher recruitment with
layoffs proposed in the budget; those layoffs have now been rescinded, but the
school system will still lose 2,600 Teachers through attrition. DOE responded
that recruitment was necessary in areas where hiring is legally required like
English Language Leaners and special education.

Mr. Liu’s office recently found that DOE had made three payments of
about $95,000 apiece to TNTP, through purchase orders that are usually used for
inter-agency disbursements or buying items like student MetroCards.

Klein’s Involvement At

It also found that DOE had attempted to make two payments totaling $1.3
million to Wireless Generation, a technology firm that implements the ARIS
system for tracking student achievement, among other projects. Mr. Liu had also
rejected that contract on the grounds of a conflict of interest, because
Wireless Generation is owned by News Corporation, which employs former Schools
Chancellor Joel I. Klein.

“Because of due diligence, we were able to catch these prior to
payment,” Mr. Liu’s spokesman Michael Loughran said in a phone
interview. “The DOE is attempting to pay outside consultants without
registered contracts, in violation of the State Education Law.”

He said that Mr. Liu’s office was trying to settle the issue amicably.
“We have requested a meeting with the DOE to further discuss our

But Mr. Cushman, in his letter to Deputy Comptroller for Contracts Geneith
Turnbull, said that Mr. Liu’s actions had been “inconsistent with
Education Law” and thus DOE had not accepted the rejection of the TNTP

‘Beyond His

He disputed the Comptroller’s powers over the DOE’s procurement
process, saying, “State Education Law does not give the Comptroller the
authority to decide what is and what is not a complete registration package or
to impose additional obligations on DOE in order for a contract to be
registered...neither the Education Law nor the policies adopted by DOE even
require completed VENDEX questionnaires to be submitted to the Comptroller at
all as part of a registration package.”

He cited a specific portion of Education Law that says that after 30 days of
a contract’s filing, the Comptroller’s powers are limited.

“Instead of complying with the Education Law requirements regarding
the registration of DOE contracts, the Comptroller’s Office asserts a
right not to register a DOE contract by substituting its judgment,” Mr.
Cushman wrote. “The Education Law, however, does not allow the
Comptroller to take this step.”

Criteria Too Test-Heavy NYSUT Sues to Head Off New Teacher Evaluations

RICHARD C. IANNUZZI: ‘Do it the right way.’

Posted: Friday, July 1, 2011
5:00 pm | Updated: 11:29 am, Wed Jul 6, 2011.

By DAVID SIMS | 0 comments

New York State United Teachers June 27 launched a lawsuit against the state’s
new Teacher-evaluation regulations, due to take effect in September, charging
that it was illegal to base 40 percent of Teachers’ grades on one
standardized exam their students take.

The original agreement stipulated that 20 percent of the evaluation would be
based on “student growth data on state assessments” and another 20
percent based on “other locally selected measures of student

Governor: Base 40% on Tests

But in May, Governor Cuomo proposed combining the two categories into one, with
40 percent of the evaluation based on state tests. The state Board of Regents
voted to let individual districts decide whether to take up the
Governor’s framework.

“By approving regulations that would circumvent collective bargaining
and usurp local autonomy, the Board of Regents and State Education Department
ignored the very law they helped negotiate, as well as the expert advice of
their own task force of practitioners,” NYSUT President Richard C.
Iannuzzi said in a statement.

“New York was poised to take the lead on a path to a thoughtful and
comprehensive evaluation system developed in collaboration with Teachers and
other stakeholders,” he added. “Instead, the Regents chose politics
over sound policy and the cheap way over the right way.”

State Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman said in a statement,
“This new Teacher and Principal evaluation system will allow local
districts to recognize and replicate teaching excellence, provide intensive
professional development for teachers in need of additional support, and
provide a fair, objective and expedited means of removing ineffective teachers
from the classroom. It is the critical foundation of all of our efforts to
ensure that every classroom is led by a highly effective Teacher. We have every
confidence that it will be upheld by the courts.”

Weight to Tests’

NYSUT’s lawsuit focuses on the over-reliance on standardized tests,
saying the system gives “disproportionate weight to standardized-test
results so a Teacher could receive a composite rating of
‘ineffective’ based on the results of a single standardized state
test, no matter how well he or she performed on every other performance
measure. This is contrary to the law’s intent that the rating score ‘incorporates
multiple measures of effectiveness.’”

It also challenges the legality of the new appeals system, in which Teachers
rated “ineffective” for two consecutive years can be dismissed
through an expedited process. This policy should have been bargained with
NYSUT, the suit charges.

The evaluation system was adopted as part of the state’s education
reform efforts to net $700 million in Federal money from the Race to the Top
program. Mr. Cuomo’s revisions came after lobbying from Mayor Bloomberg
to end the “last-in, first-out” seniority system for layoffs; Mr.
Cuomo said a strong evaluation system needed to be in place before further
action was taken on the law.

Daily News

Fuzzy math on Regents exams may have affected state results, teachers say

BY Ben


Thursday, July 7th 2011, 4:00 AM

Bunk questions might have thrown the results of state math tests taken by
thousands of city students last month, public school teachers who gave and graded
the tests say.

The Regents exams for Algebra II/Trigonometry were supposed to measure
readiness for college - but teachers say several questions showed fuzzy math.

"It's a serious problem - the tests didn't tell us what the kids really
know," said Jonathan Halabi, a math teacher at the High School of American Studies in
the Bronx.

Teachers gave an F to three of 39 questions on the exam - enough to make a
difference in whether a student passes or fails.

On one open-ended problem involving graphs, teachers discovered three
possible correct answers. The state decided to give students full credit for

For an intermediate algebra question, students were asked to choose one of
four multiple choice answers, even though two were correct. Credit will be
given for both answers.

And on another multiple-choice question, teachers say none of the answer
options was correct, a charge that state education officials deny.

"We are confident in the construction of this exam and that students
were not impacted in any way by the three test questions at issue,"
spokesman Jonathan Burman said.

About 27,800 city high school students, mostly sophomores and juniors, took
the advanced math exams given on June 21.

A passing grade counts toward an advanced Regents diploma, which can help
students get into college. Many high school classes also use the Regents as
final exams.

New York Post

Walcott probes grades


Last Updated: 7:54 AM, July 7, 2011

Posted: 2:26 AM, July 7, 2011

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced yesterday he's launched a probe
into charges of grade-tampering to improperly pass failing students and inflate
school graduation rates -- complaints first exposed by The Post.

Walcott said he has already received two dozen e-mails from school
whistleblowers following Post columnist Michael Goodwin's reports from teachers
who claimed they were pressured by higher-ups to pass students, despite shoddy
attendance and poor grades.

"My e-mail was publicized in your paper. I have received a number of
e-mails from individuals," Walcott said.

He added that he has personally responded to the e-mails, thanking the
whistleblowers and promising to inform them of the results of his investigation
in each case.

Walcott's office declined to release the contents of the claims yesterday,
to protect confidentiality.

The chancellor emphasized that he takes charges of grade-tampering and
social promotion seriously, and that's why he asked The Post to publish his
e-mail address --
-- to personally review the complaints.

The Walcott probe comes as some education advocates question whether the academic
gains of the New York City school system in recent years are real.

The probe also comes as the state Board of Regents has begun to ratchet up
graduation and promotion standards after admitting its standardized exams had
become predictably easy.

"I'm pleased that Dennis is looking into this. We, too, have gotten
reports about grade inflation and cheating," said Board of Regents
Chancellor Merryl Tisch.

She admitted that accountability pressures were driving some principals and
teachers to cut corners.

"There are going to be people who don't follow the rules. It's human
nature to try to show improvement," she said.

But Tisch cautioned not to paint with a broad brush.

"Is there wholesale grade inflation? I don't think so," she said.
"You are dealing with, by and large, a decent and honorable school

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We all know DoE violate laws, an article about their not violating laws will be more interesting.