Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Leonie Trashes NYSED RTTT Application

Haimson on nycednewslistserve

Lots of new testing, data collection, and other programs of questionable value in NY state’s new RTTT applications; one of 35 states plus DC that applied in the second round. Which doesn’t mean that NY won’t win their share of the gravy, but to what end?

What do I see? Lots of “advisory” centers, lots of data coaches, and new school achievement facilitators; technical assistance teams, etc. etc. that clearly will build up SED when they are facing their own budget cuts; but nothing that would help prevent the massive budget cuts to classrooms or schools now planned, despite repeated claims otherwise by Klein and co. in recent weeks. One really wonders whether it was worth it to more than double the cap on charters, and create a new teacher evaluation system, etc. etc.

The following triumphant statement by SED about the new law approved to base teacher evaluations upon 40% test scores will no doubt spread joy and fear in the hearts of many:

Establishes a new comprehensive annual evaluation system for teachers and principals based on multiple measures of effectiveness, including 40 percent student achievement, measures, which would result in a single composite effectiveness score for every teacher

and principal.

Only a portion of the State’s teachers teach in subjects in which students take a State assessment.

However, the new legislation ensures that all teachers will be evaluated based on student data, which will include assessment results and other measures of achievement, and provides a process for the development of measures beyond State assessments….[emphasis mine; I can’t imagine the assessments for all those subjects and all those grades; but whatever they turn out to be, they will surely be immensely expensive, time-consuming and just as unreliable as all the other assessments and rating systems we have seen from the city and state in recent years.]

Establishes an expedited tenured employee disciplinary process for teachers and principals where the charges are based solely on a “pattern of ineffective teaching or performance.”

Provides that two consecutive annual ratings of “Ineffective” constitutes a “pattern of ineffective teaching or performance,” which constitutes very significant evidence of incompetence and which may form the basis for just cause removal of a teacher or principal.

These changes will greatly facilitate the removal of ineffective teachers and principals.”

And what programs are they intending to spend the $670 million on! So much of it sounds like an unconvincing attempt to copy the failed efforts and hyped programs started by DOE in recent years:

$134.1M for a new statewide Leadership Academy; (no comment!)

$50 million for a new “data portal” (ARIS, anyone?); to be created along with the new test-based teacher evaluation system. (reprise of teacher data reports)

$41.8 million to contract out to a testing company for new state formative and interim assessments – as if we don’t have enough of these already on the city level. Even funding in there for new preK assessments!

$20 million for a contractor to run an external technical assistance center, to advise on how to “turn around” low-performing schools. [more gravy for New Visions? Just exclude low-performing students; that should do the trick!]

$20 million for a “Virtual Schools: Technical Assistance Center” [w/out any evidence that virtual schools or online learning is an effective method of instruction.]

$13 million for new NYSED Office of Innovative School Models [what kinds of “innovation”? More online learning?]

$27.5 M for Secondary School Innovation Fund (again what innovations? Perhaps the state thinks if they use that word enough, they can get the feds to give them millions. They should just be honest and call it large-scale experimentation on our kids.

….and on…and on…

More highlights (or low lights depending on your perspective) below.


NYSED Research Support Group

Under the leadership of Laura Smith, the newly appointed Assistant Commissioner for External Partnerships and Research, the

NYSED Research Support Group will package and disseminate information about proven best practices in education management and

successful, scalable models for improving student achievement. Ms. Smith brings over 15 years of experience in urban education

program and project management, having served as an Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation Resident in Urban Education for the San

Diego City School district in the Residency’s inaugural year and later working for the NYC Charter School Center and the NYC

Department of Education.

The Research Support Group will work in conjunction with the Office of Accountability to analyze state-wide data to identify and

disseminate best practices from:

1. Schools that are “beating the odds” by dramatically outperforming schools with comparable student populations.

2. Promising school-level practices that have demonstrated success in driving outstanding gains in student achievement

3. Districts that have implemented human resource and school portfolio management practices that have resulted in high

performance for schools and/or targeted student populations.

The Research Support group will leverage the unique structure of USNY and will partner with our institutions of higher education to

develop and implement a research agenda. The office will also seek private funding to partner with other well-known research

institutions. [Gates anyone?]

NYSED Office of External Partnerships

To complement NYSED’s expanded research capacity, the Office of External Partnerships [guess who again] will also be overseen by Laura Smith and

will facilitate strategic public-private partnerships, cultivate private investments in state-level reform initiatives, and ensure that

NYSED takes full advantage of all available federal grant opportunities. Reporting to the Commissioner, the Office of External

Partnerships will leverage its close management relationship with the Research Support Group to ensure that all investments are

aligned to evidenced-based strategies and that they are monitored through a rigorous evaluation process.


To further expand the State’s innovative educational models, New York State will implement new, Regents directed policies relating

to online courses in our districts and our BOCES, add courses that that are both rigorous and student-centered, and provide

professional development and technical support that allows our teachers to be highly effective in a virtual environment. These

coordinated activities will allow local school districts to address course makeup needs, advance opportunities for the acquisition of

credit and provide equity in access to rigorous courses including Advanced Placement courses.

Through a request for proposal (RFP) process, NYSED will establish technical assistance centers to assist LEAs with analyzing the technical learning environment in a building, as well as designing and delivering instruction in an online setting.

As described further in Section F, the New York City DOE is already pursuing online initiatives and, in the fall of 2010, plans to launch the Innovation Zone (“iZone”). Schools that arepart of the iZone will pilot a set of innovative online courses and blended schools models.

A total of 84 schools serving over 13,000

students have been selected to participate in the iZone this coming school year. These efforts will result in innovative options for

over-aged and under-credited students and other students disconnected from traditional schools as well as all learners who want to participate in school “anytime, anywhere.” By 2014, we expect this approach to provide alternative pathways to completing

graduation requirements and advanced courses of study for up to 20,000 students across the State who will have the opportunity to

take online public school courses at no cost.

Implement new formative and interim assessments

$41.8 Million (This project will fund a competitive RFP for a four-year contract to develop new K-12 formative and interim assessment tools,

including K-3 early reading formative assessments, and professional development content related to the assessments. Providers will be

asked to include new technologies for online administration.

All Project Years $50MM

This project is comprised of two key sub-projects:

1. Data Portal / Expansion of Instructional System

2. Integration of Growth Model and Creation of Teacher Evaluation System

Sub-project 1: Data Portal / Expansion of Instructional System: Includes funding for building out the statewide Data Portal and

instructional improvement system. Includes infrastructure, design, coding, implementation, testing, and standardized reports for

building out the data portal and instructional system. This sub-project will have no grants to LEAs. Total cost $42,000,000.

Sub-project 2: Integration of Growth Model and Creation of Teacher Evaluation System: Includes funding for building out the teacher

evaluation IT system. Includes infrastructure, design, coding, implementation, testing, and standardized reports for integration of a

growth model and building out the teacher evaluation system at the state level. All teacher related data is or will be collected as part of

enhancements to the state system based on grants from IES and other sources of ongoing funding. This sub-project will have no grants

to LEAs. Total cost $4,000,000.

$20 M for Virtual Schools: Technical

Assistance Centers for

Development of Virtual Learning

Environments (RFP)

$20.4 M for External Technical Assistance

Center For Innovation And

Turnaround (ETACIT)

$13 M for New York State Department

Office Of Innovative School


The State has built in $10MM to fund development and support of Principal Leadership Academies

Project Year 3 $.965MM

Project Year 4 $.965MM

All Project Years $3.,860MM

10) Indirect Costs

11) Funding for Involved LEAs

12) Supplemental Funding for Participating LEAs

The three coordinators will each launch two Academies in each of the first two years with each requiring an initial investment of

$250K per Academy. Investments will be made possible through Principal “tuitions” paid out of LEA Race to the Top funds. Each

leadership academy site will conduct focus groups for Principals and develop curriculum based on needs, research-based best practice

on closing the achievement gap. Turnaround coaches will be identified and trained. Once academies are launched, the later years of

the grant money will provide for the regional expansion of existing Academies, as well as to focus on sharing practices across

Academies. The total expected investment in Principal Leadership Academies over the life of the grant will be $6MM. The State will

provide, from its share of Race to the Top, approximately $2MM to supplement the investments LEAs make in this program. The

balance of the project costs ($40MM) will be covered by the LEA share of Title I School Improvement Funds – 1003(a) at 10MM per

year for four years.

All Project Years $134.1MM

1) Personnel and 6) Contractual

This project comprises of hiring and sustaining three-person Network teams to support the implementation of: the new standards,

curriculum models and assessments; new teacher evaluations; and new education data system. Each team will serve 25 schools.

Statewide, we will deploy 124 teams into our four largest school districts and each of our BOCES to serve 3,100 schools. (Note: New

York City already funds network teams with their Title II funds so additional teams have not been budgeted for them.)

The structure of each network team will include a Senior Achievement Facilitator (Instructional Specialist), a Data Specialist and a

Curriculum Specialist.Network teams will be hired, trained and phased in to support LEAs and schools through the grant period as

RTTT reforms are implemented. In Year 1 (2010-11), Senior Achievement Facilitators and Curriculum Specialists will be deployed to

the LEAs engaging in 2010-2011 turnaround interventions of persistently lowest achieving schools. In Year 2 (2011-12), the existing

teams will be sustained and Senior Achievement Facilitators and Curriculum Specialists will be phased in Statewide to support the

implementation in all participating LEAs of the new standards, curriculum models, and assessments and the new teacher evaluation

system. The teams will continue to support school turnaround efforts through the grant period. In Year 3, as the education data system

is launched, Data Specialists will be added to each of the 124 teams Statewide. Full teams will be sustained through Year 4. As noted

earlier, since the NYC Department of Education already has network teams in place, our Network Team budget and phase in plans do

not require the deployment of additional teams to those schools

To execute the work on this project, an outside vendor will be contracted: Total cost 16,960,000

Create a Technical Assistance Center called the External Technical Assistance Center for Innovation and Turnaround

(ETACIT). The new center will work with those LEAs that have PLAs within their districts. The responsibilities include:

working with participating LEAs to plan and implement one of the four intervention models; gathering and disseminating

research to LEAs on effective school intervention strategies; coordinating with other SED offices and outside educational

organizations to provide professional development to LEAs; identifying lead partners to work with LEAs, for implementation

of the restart and transformation models; outreach and technical assistance to possible lead partners; and collecting data on

LEA model implementation and results.

o The ETACIT staff must have extensive knowledge and experience in school improvement/intervention, with specific

experience in one or more of the following areas:

school organization and leadership;

curriculum content and standards alignment, assessment and instruction;

specialized intervention strategies, including serving students with disabilities and/or English language learners;

smaller learning communities and grade reconfiguration;

zoning or enrollment changes;

expanded options for over-age/under- credited students

innovative use of facilities;

phasing-out/closing schools and developing new schools; and/or

any other effective school intervention strategies.

In addition, the following services will be purchased:

Professional Development - Cost related to design and provision of professional development for LEAs prior to selection of

school intervention model, and during the development of the school intervention model Plan. This allocation will cover the

cost of consultants and materials.

o $400,000 per year

Outreach and Development of Lead Partners- Estimate cost for conducting outreach activities to recruit new lead partners to

work with LEAs in the turnaround, restart and transformation models. This includes travel, meetings, materials, and speakers.

o $340,000 per year

Data Collection and Research - Cost related to gathering and disseminating research on effective turnaround practices to LEAs,

and data collection to document LEA efforts and choices. This includes an evaluation conducted by a vendor on the outcomes

of the implementation of the school intervention models.

o $125,000 per year

7) Training Stipends

8) Other

9) Total Direct Costs

Project Year 1: $5MM

Project Years 2-4: $5.1MM each

Project Total: $20.4MM

10) Indirect Costs

11) Funding for Involved LEAs

12) Supplemental Funding for Participating LEAs

13) Total Costs

Project Year 1: $5MM

Project Years 2-4: $5.1MM each

Project Total: $20.4MM

Project ID: E3

Project Name: New York State Education Department Office of Innovative School Models

Associated with Criteria: (E) (2)

(in $K)


$13,027.8 M

1) Personnel

New York will reallocate current SED staff to resource the Office of Innovative School Models. In addition, SED will leverage

federal funds to hire 5 additional temporary staff, and a Coordinator. After the initial grant period of four years, these positions will be

eliminated, and the remaining staff will carry on the work of the OISM:

One FTE Coordinator (G-28) will coordinate the activities of the ETACIT, and the progress of LEAs intervening in the

persistently lowest- achieving schools; hired at an initial salary of $83,000

Four FTE Professional Staff (G 26) will have expertise in grants management/compliance, procurement, contract management,

human capital management and state policy; hired at an initial salary of $72,000 each

One FTE Support Staff (G 11), hired at an initial salary of $37,000

8) Other

New York State may leverage opportunities to develop a charter school facilities credit enhancement program, similar to what was

established by Texas Governor Perry and Education Commissioner Scott in May of 2009. To implement this approach, NYSED

would identify public sources of funds as potential reserves to support credit enhancement for high quality charter school facilities and

innovative school models across the state. In the short term, this credit enhancement program could enable high-performing charter

operators in NY to reduce interest payments on facilities debt, provide students in those schools with adequate facilities, and enable

the strongest networks to expand to more sites. In the long term, this program could create a public mechanism for financing other

types of next-generation models. (Please see appendix F_2_iv_2: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Letter Re: Charter Facilities


9) Total Direct Costs

Project Years 1-4: $3.0MM each

Project Total: $13.0MM

10) Indirect Costs

Calculated using 35.30% as a percent of Personnel costs

11) Funding for Involved LEAs

12) Supplemental Funding for Participating LEAs

13) Total Costs

Project Years 1-4: $3.0MM each

Project Total: $13.0MM

Project Name: Secondary School Innovation Fund

Total costs: $27.5 M


In addition to the schools identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving that are receiving the Title I 1003(g) turnaround funding, New

York is allowing those schools identified as low performing to opt into the Innovative School Model.

Those schools will receive $500,000 per year for three years for turnaround activities designed to improve student performance and to avoid the school being

identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving. The rollout of the funds would be as follows:

Year 1 – 6 new schools @ $500,000 = $3MM

Year 2 – 6 new schools (12 total) @$500,000 = $6MM

Year 3 – 6 new schools (18 total) @$500,000 = $9MM

Year 4 – 7 new schools (19 total) @$500,000 = $9.5MM

Total – 25 Schools @ 27.5MM

This total would be matched from the Funding Subgranted to Participating LEAs for a project total of $55MM.

Project ID: E6

Project Name: Virtual Schools: Digital Learning: Development Of High Quality Digital Courses

Issuance of an RFP to develop rigorous, high quality courses in core subject areas as well as Advanced Placement courses that will

enhance student learning opportunities (2011-2013) 25 courses will de developed over the 4 years and on-line professional

development will be provided for teachers. $2,400.0 $250.0 $250.0 $250.0 $3,150.0

12) Supplemental Funding for Participating LEAs

The project creates a hybrid computer-assisted instructional model that uses evidence-based best practices in special education,

adolescent literacy and content areas. It will initiate the development of an interval assessment system which directs RtI, academic

intervention services and individual teacher instructional decision-making. An internal data warehouse system will provide teachers

with easy access to gather all pertinent data (reading and math abilities and deficits, behavioral interventions, IEP goals) and facilitate

real-time decision-making.

Project ID: E7

Project Name: Virtual Schools: Technical Assistance Centers for Development of Virtual Learning Environments

$20 m FOR Total Costs

Purchased services to include:

Issuance of an RFP to develop two technical assistance centers which will:

Provide regional professional development related to teaching in an on-line environment; evaluate courses for inclusion in the

network; and infrastructures analysis for LEAs wishing to implement on-line learning (2011-12).

Roll-Out of World Class Prekindergarten Standards through Curriculum Resource Center (See Project B)

o Provide access to Professional development through: Web-Based Training, face to face site visits, and technical

assistance phone calls for all prekindergarten and related programs (eg. Preschool Special Education)

o Extend partnerships with community-based agencies, Network Teams, and Regional supports for the dissemination of

the prekindergarten standards and statewide curriculum models through conference calls, and regional meetings for

dissemination and roll-out of standards and curriculum models.

Year Three

Evaluation of Effectiveness of programs and impact on development and learning

o Develop protocol and evaluation tools to evaluate the quality of prekindergarten programs and effects on learning, and

academic achievement transitions Conduct evaluation of parent assessment tool

Provide professional development and technical assistance for the implementation of New York State Early Childhood

Learning Standards and curriculum models

(See Project B2)

Year Four

Provide professional development and technical assistance for the implementation of New York State Early Childhood

Learning Standards and curriculum models

(See Projects A3 and B2

Build an Assessment Protocol (RFP)

o Gather and analyze information from the Birth-3 early childhood providers and prekindergarten through grade three

constituents to assess what is currently used for assessing children’s development and learning progress community

agencies and school districts

Pilot pre-k early literacy assessment

Pilot pre-k early math assessment

Pilot pre-k early social-emotional development skills assessment

Follow up comments by Dee Alpert:

NYSED lost a lot of State money used to fund its various networks (w/colleges and universities; from the BOCES, etc.) and is using the various new technical assistance centers and other non-NYSED "consultants" to keep the prior folks employed via RttT.

I once read of an evaluation re some of these networks and tried to get a copy of it. ROTFL! The university involved couldn't find a copy; the NYSED official (who was also affiliated with that University) said it was out of print, and of course, although he was listed as the author, he just couldn't manage to find a copy of his own paper.

In the special ed. area, NYSED had a USDOE state improvement grant with 2 goals (NYSED had put these in its application): a) to decrease the over-representation of minority kids in special ed., and b) to decrease the score gap between kids w/disabilities and those without. The evaluation of this expensive program was a stitch. Wading through 110+ pages of flow charts, pie charts, tables, lists of meetings, conferences, seminars and consultations, one found the actual data buried near the end. The program did not decrease the over-representation of minorities in special ed. at all and did not decrease the score gap at all. However, the fabulously fatuous evaluation had stunningly fantastic reviews re how the paid participants (from universities, colleges, districts, etc.) just loved the whole thing. You had "survey" results of adults' feelings re this with N=3 and other "valid" data. It was truly appalling. NYSED's summary of this debacle patted itself on the fanny for the wonderful results (from the paid adults) something fierce. When I pointed out to some feds that this whole thing represented a complete waste of federal funds ... the evaluations disappeared from the university's web site.

NYSED neither audits nor monitors what districts actually do with any serious federal funds, as has been found by the USDOE OIG on numerous occasions over the past 2 decades. You can be assured that all that will happen with this RttT grant is that folks at NYSED who get schmeared for IT contracts and purchases will continue to be so schmeared; favored colleges and universities will continue having their staff paid to do useless work; a lot of retired district superintendents will get paid for assisting districts, although there is no objective data they didn't manipulate showing they were competent; the BOCES will continue being fully funded and, at the same time, will still have all serious reporting and accountability requirements waived for them by NYSED, and when all is said and done, there will be a new look to the same old crap. Honest.

As for evaluations for teachers of kids w/disabilities, these will be a joke. The ones for severely disabled kids already are. For ELLs they'll use the NYSESLAT, which they use now, and which is individually administered by teachers with no meaningful outside verification of their ratings.

The new tests will be a hoot. With no independent audit and verification of the tests' cut scores and grading, ... fuggedaboutdit.

Ultimately, the NAEP scores may improve a bit, in concert with the rest of the country, because NYSED has signalled to districts that they can screw around with granting test mods and accoms to all sorts of kids. However, SAT scores, which NYSED and districts cannot manipulate, will not significantly and meaningfully increase and the percentage of NYS high school graduates who require remediation in college will either remain the same or increase.

Remind me to write about how NYSED screwed around with the allegedly objective evaluation of schools' and districts' and BOCES' and private providers' SES (supplementary educational services, a/k/a afterschool tutoring) programs which had to be offered to kids in schools which flunked AYP. The RFP, which I've archived, is a hoot! NYSED stood on its head to insure that the public never, never, never was able to find out how well or poorly any public outfits' programs did as compared with any of the private providers, citing the most specious confidentiality reasons possible.

Nothing will change except the color of lipstick on the pig. But it's still going to be a pig.

Dee Alpert

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