Education Forum Spotlights Teacher Evaluations, School Aid, Common Core as Key Issues

From left, James Dexter, WSWHE BOCES, Charles Dedrick, Capital Region BOCES, Pat Michel, HFM BOCES, Gladys Cruz, Questar III BOCES. (Photo Michael Goot, Glens Falls Post Star)

RENSSELAER, N.Y. (February 8, 2016) -- The Common Core standards, teacher evaluations and state funding are just a few of the key issues facing New York, according to a panel of BOCES superintendents gathered to discuss the future of k-12 education in New York at the University at Albany's Massry Conference Center on Feburary 3rd.

The forum, sponsored by CASDA, an education and research non-profit at UAlbany's School of Education (SOE), brought together school administrators and SOE graduate students to hear featured panelists Gladys Cruz of Questar III BOCES, Charles Dedrick of Capital Region BOCES, James Dexter of Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, and Patrick Michel of Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES. The program was moderated by CASDA Executive Director Dr. James Butterworth.

School funding was the program’s initial focus. Panelists shared their reaction to recent rhetoric between state elected officials on the tax cap, State Aid and the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).

“Before the economy took a downturn, schools were given a dollar by the state. After the crash, the GEA was introduced and districts had to survive on just eighty cents,” Dedrick said. He pointed out that funding has slowly risen, but School districts continue to face significant challenges, as school administrators have to craft budgets, fund instructional programming and meet rigorous standards with significantly diminished resources.

Glydis Cruz of Questar III
Gladys Cruz, Questar III BOCES

The panel offered predictions that the Common Core would be renamed, but uncertainty surrounding the next set of standards remains a key unresolved issue.

The panelists argued there would be more vocational and project-based learning, where the various subjects are incorporated into projects -- pointing to the success of the P-TECH and Early College High School programs, where students can earn an associate degree in fields such as advanced manufacturing while still in high school.

Dedrick said the focus is going to shift from the standards to the teaching practices in the classroom. The panelists offered their take on the current teacher evaluation system, known formally as the Annual Professional Performance Review, predicting that it will cease to exist in its current form. The Board of Regents adopted the Common Core Task Force’s recommendation of a four-year moratorium on use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.

Cruz, whose districts include Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties, said the good part of the evaluation system is teachers and administrators are "having deeper and more meaningful conversations around instruction."

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