Merryl Tisch, Reflects on Her Tenure on the NYS Regents:  “Tried Too Much Too Fast”!

Dear Commons Community,

Merryl Tisch, the outgoing Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, gave an interview to the New York Times, reflecting on her tenure as the State’s chief education policy maker.  Dr. Tisch was appointed to the Board of Regents in 1996 and was elected chancellor, an unpaid position, in 2009. The Regents are appointed by the Legislature, and they in turn appoint the state education commissioner. She summed up her work on the Regents as having “tried too much too fast”. She specifically reviewed the Common Core implementation, teacher evaluations, and the Opt-Out Movement.

“Dr. Tisch, pushed for the creation of new, harder tests based on the Common Core standards and for teacher evaluations tied to students’ performance on the exams.

That set off a backlash in which a fifth of the eligible students sat out the state’s third- through eighth-grade reading and math tests last spring. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, once her ally on using test scores in teacher evaluations, did an about-face.

Now the Regents are expected to elect a chancellor endorsed by leaders of the opt-out revolt. Already, the board has put in place a four-year moratorium on the use of test scores in teacher evaluations. Following a critical report from a task force convened by the governor, the State Education Department is gathering comment from teachers and parents on how the standards should be changed.

If she could take one thing back, Dr. Tisch said, it would be having rolled out the standards and the teacher evaluation system at the same time, “because I think the debate over how to evaluate a teacher contaminated the more important work.”

The article also commented on her likely replacement, Betty A. Rosa, a former, school superintendent in the Bronx;

“The State Assembly on Tuesday elected three new Regents to replace the departing board members. One of them, Luis O. Reyes, a research associate at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, was endorsed by the opt-out leaders.

When the Regents meet on March 21 and 22, they are likely to elect Betty A. Rosa, a former superintendent in the Bronx, as the next chancellor. In a phone interview, Dr. Rosa, 64, said she believed there was too much emphasis on standardized tests as measures of students’ and schools’ performance. She said she wanted to see teacher evaluations permanently unlinked from test scores, because she was skeptical of the methodology used to calculate a teacher’s impact on a student’s scores.  She also expressed concern about the new, more difficult licensing exams the state introduced under Dr. Tisch, in an effort to raise the bar for new teachers.

“What we’ve been doing to children, we’re doing it now to teachers,” Dr. Rosa said.

Dr. Tisch said she was worried that backtracking on teacher certification requirements would “allow the least prepared teachers to continue to populate the highest-needs school districts.”

In my opinion,  Dr. Tisch and her commissioners never understood the importance of including parents and educators at the local levels in designing and implementing education reforms.  As a result rather than reform, they brought chaos and disruption.  Now the new chancellor has to start over.  Good luck, Dr. Rosa. 



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