Brennan Asks Regents to Declare “Time-Out” on Penalties to Schools in Wake of Drastic Test Score Overhaul

Seeks a year to develop new yardsticks for progress and halt separate New York City penalty system
August 12, 2010
State Assemblymember Jim Brennan (D-Brooklyn) has asked the State Board of Regents and the Education Department to suspend any new penalties on schools for at least a year in the wake of the State’s drastic test score overhaul. The State dramatically increased the test score threshold for proficiency for reading and math in grades 3-8 for 2010. In New York City, the percentage levels of students achieving proficiency in grades 3-8 dropped 26 points in English Language Arts and 28 points in math.

“Every school in the State needs a fresh start from sanctions for lack of progress,” Brennan stated in a letter to Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch and State Education Commissioner David Steiner. “The State needs to take the 2010 results as a new base year for which to measure progress,” Brennan added in the letter. He asked the State to use the interval created by the “time out” to develop a new yardstick for assessments involving progress, sanctions, and the closure of schools.

Separate Sanctions and Closures in New York City’s Report Card System Must Also Be Halted

Assemblymember Brennan pointed out to State officials that New York City is using a separate and inconsistent set of progress, sanction and school closure assessments from New York State’s system. The New York City system issues letter grades to schools.

He stated, “Injected into this mix of different State and City accountability system are 30-point drops in proficiency levels across the board or more.” Two separate accountability systems for sanctions and school closings will be likely to cause confusion and anger, Mr. Brennan expressed in the letter, and the State should solve that problem by moving toward one uniform sanction and closure system. “There is nothing wrong with the New York City Department of Education providing appropriate feedback and supervision,” Mr. Brennan said, “but a uniform sanction and closure system is essential.”