Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre Fighting for Real Reforms to NY’s Education System

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Babylon) announced she sponsored legislation that passed the assembly ensuring education policy changes enacted as part of the 2015-16 state budget do not put students at a disadvantage in the classroom or pressure educators to teach to a test (A.7303-A).

“When the Assembly passed this bill today, we made a powerful statement on behalf of New York’s children and families,” Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre said. “I’m proud to have been able to sponsor legislation that puts our kids first.”

The legislation passed focuses on putting our children first by untying school aid from the implementation of a new teacher evaluation system, extending the deadline for the Board of Regents to adopt a new evaluation system from June 30 to Nov. 17, and delaying the deadline for implementation of this system within schools by one year, to Nov. 15, 2016.

Addressing concerns about inappropriate high-stakes testing, the Assembly’s legislation creates a committee to review the English language arts and math tests for grades 3-8 to ensure they are grade-level appropriate and eliminates “stand-alone” multiple-choice field tests. In addition, the bill requires state-provided growth models (for grades 4-8 English language arts and math teachers) to take into consideration certain factors that can affect student performance on tests such as students with disabilities, English language learners and poverty status.

Additionally, the legislation modifies the teacher-observation category to allow, instead of require, districts to use the independent trained evaluator as part of a voluntary demonstration project that may be established by the State Education Department.

The bill also includes measures to address concerns voiced by educators and education advocates, including:

  • amending the new teacher evaluation law that passed as part of the 2015-16 budget by modifying the definition of “state-designed supplemental assessment” to include “other locally selected measures of student achievement”;
  • providing $8.4 million in additional funding to print more test forms for grades 3-8 to increase the amount of test study materials, and requiring the release of test questions and answers by June 1 of each year;
  • mandating that Common Core education standards be reviewed by the education commissioner, who would then recommend any necessary changes; and
  • ensuring school districts receive increases passed in this year’s budget, regardless of the status of the new teacher evaluation system.

“Long Island’s students, parents and teachers must be given more time and the right resources to adjust to any changes in education standards. This bill will provide our schools and our students with the tools they need to be successful,” Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre added.

The Assembly also passed a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Education to continue providing vital funding and not withhold school funding due to the increase in the number of parents who opted out of having their children take the English language arts and math standardized tests this past year (K.523).