BY STATE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER RICHARD P. MILLS
The Meeting in Brief: The Regents will decide on the conceptual framework for their State aid proposal for 2005-06, and will determine their legislative priorities, first in committees and again in Full Board. The Board will discuss modifications in policy concerning teacher education. The Regents will receive the report of the mathematics standards committee, discuss grade-by-grade testing, special education regulatory reform, and the statewide plan for higher education. The Regents will recognize the achievement of many individuals and institutions at the annual Archives Award Luncheon. Many agenda items will have implications for more than one part of USNY.
Grade-by-Grade Mathematics Standards
The Regents will receive the report of the Mathematics Standards Committee on November 4. The Mathematics Standards Committee met 20 times over the last 10 months to create grade-by-grade mathematics standards. We thank the committee members for this valuable product.
The report lists the topics, which, in the judgment of the committee, students should learn and teachers should teach in each grade. The committee responded to its charge by moving some topics to lower grades, treating others in greater depth, and eliminating still others. After reviewing an earlier draft, we asked the committee also to present the reasons behind these judgments.
We expect controversy over two recommendations: many topics would be moved from higher grades to grades five and six, and the two-course high school program would revert to a three-course model. We also expect extensive discussion on the best ways to connect the topics in each grade together as a continuum of instruction. The committee recommends a public comment period, and we concur. Committee co-chairs William Brosnan and Terry McSweeny will present the report and respond to the Regents questions.
Key questions: Will New York students become more competent in mathematics if the Regents adopt these standards and schools put them in place? Which topics get more attention or less, and which will disappear? Which topics are moved to lower grades? Why did the committee come to those conclusions? What are the implications for grade-by-grade testing? What are the implications for local schools?
Recommendation: That the Regents approve the proposal for publication and begin a comment period to conclude in December. A report would then be ready for Regents approval in January.
Federal and State Legislative Priorities
In October, the Regents discussed a list that contains two new state legislative priorities, seven carry-over items from the prior legislative session, and two placeholders pending action by the Congress. In addition, the Regents have a draft statement of the federal legislative priorities. The Chancellor has asked Regents committees to consider the items on the list that are within their purview and recommend appropriate action to the Full Board through their committee reports. We ask that committees consider the proposed federal items in the same manner.
Key questions: (For each committee) Will the committee amend, delete, postpone for further consideration, or recommend for adoption the draft legislative priorities within their committee charge? (For the Full Board) Do Regents have questions for the committee chairs? Will the Regents adopt the proposed combined legislative priorities?
The Regents will discuss their 2005-06 State aid proposal and will seek agreement in concept. The proposed concept is consistent with the Regents State aid recommendation of 2004-05, which is now before the court in the CFE case because the Regents have amicus status. The proposed concept includes the enhancements to the Regents accountability system that the Regents discussed in September.
Key question: Will the Regents approve the State aid recommendation in concept and direct the Department and the Subcommittee on State Aid to prepare a financial statement to complete the proposal for Regents action in December?
Recommendation: That the Regents approve the State aid proposal in concept and direct the preparation of the State aid budget.
Assessment – Continuing Review
The EMSC-VESID Committee will continue its review of assessment topics outlined in September. The State Education Department is analyzing cohort data for the classes that entered the ninth grade in 1999 and 2000. The resulting data, which is expected in December, will inform Regents discussion on how to move the minimum passing score on Regents exams from 55 to 65. The committee will have an opportunity to advise on the data needed.
Grade-by-Grade Testing and NCLB
Regents policy provides for grade-by-grade testing consistent with No Child Left Behind. As a result, we appointed a committee of practitioners to help us develop the concepts that led to the request for proposals. After the Department completed a rigorous procurement process, we awarded a contract to CTB-McGraw Hill to create the grade 3 through 8 exams in English Language Arts and mathematics. This month as part of its on-going review of assessments, the Board will discuss a report on how we will proceed with grade-by-grade testing.
Our approach has been to turn the NCLB requirement into an opportunity to create the next generation of assessments and to build new information to improve instruction. The Department’s assessment team is studying ways to get results faster and develop more extensive field testing while distributing the burden fairly through a five-year plan. They will link the reporting to the unit record system. They are exploring distributive scoring approaches that use technology and would involve more teachers but a lighter burden on each one. Finally, they are considering a scaling system that will enable educators to assess the growth of individual students grade-by-grade toward the standards.
We will field test in 2005 and expect to have operational tests in 2006 as required by No Child Left Behind. After we see the field test results, we will need to reconsider the annual accountability targets in relation to the new tests.
Key questions: How will the new exams, in concert with new data systems, and web-based curriculum and instruction materials create new capacity to improve achievement and close the gap? What are the risks as we go forward, and what have we done to manage those risks?
Special Education Regulatory Reform
The EMSC-VESID Committee will discuss a proposal to improve the achievement of students with disabilities through reform of regulations. The context for this proposal includes the Regents gap-closing priority, the VESID design for the future, and the Regents decision in October 2003 on assessment.
"Winning compliance" is a guiding concept for this proposal. Winning compliance does not treat all districts the same. Winning compliance makes regulatory compliance the sensible, attractive, and practical route. It supports school districts that strive and succeed in meeting expectations but applies rigorous enforcement and monitoring to those that do not. Here is an example. Today schools create their own IEP format. It is time consuming and leads to conflict and misunderstanding when required items are left out of a child’s plan. VESID proposes a uniform IEP format to eliminate duplicative work and avoid a source of conflict. Another example is a proposed elimination of the minimum hours of service in particular support services in high school. Experience shows that the current minimums impose costs with no practical benefit. The proposed alternative would enable educators and parents to create a program that works.
Key questions: Is the proposal likely to advance the Regents policy of improving achievement among children with disabilities? Do the Regents understand and support the "winning compliance" approach, consistent with federal law?
Statewide Plan for Higher Education
The Committee on Higher Education and Professional Practice will continue discussion of the 2004-2012 Statewide Plan for Higher Education. SUNY, CUNY and the proprietary sector have provided their final master plans and we expect to receive the master plan from the independent colleges and universities in November after their board has approved it. In December, the Regents will see a draft of the Plan that includes initiatives from all of the higher education sectors that address the Regents priorities for the future of higher education.
The Statewide Plan will support actions involving all parts of the University of the State of New York, including Cultural Education, VESID, EMSC, Professions, to advance higher education along the lines identified in the 13 priorities included in the Regents call for the sector plans. The Statewide Plan will include indicators that will help the Board and other policy makers review implementation.
Key questions: How will the Regents proceed with public hearings on the Statewide Plan? How will the Regents use this major policy document to support investment in the quality of higher education?
This month the Regents will have their annual conversation with David Caputo and Dawn Santiago-Marullo, the co-chairs of the Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching. The Standards Board maintains a challenging agenda that is consistent with the Regents’ commitment to ensure that every child has well prepared teachers.
Key Question: Is the quality of teaching in New York improving? How do we know? What are the remaining gaps in ensuring that all children have the teachers they need? How will we fill those gaps?
The Committee on Higher Education and Professional Practice is considering a proposal to modify the requirement for a fixed percentage of full-time faculty in teacher education programs and the number of hours those faculty may work in the programs. The proposal would provide flexibility on the fixed percentage requirement (50 percent of courses taught by full-time faculty), and the limitations on faculty workload, for teacher education programs that meet two performance-based requirements: program accreditation and the Regents requirement for an 80 percent or better pass rate of graduates on the state teacher certification exams.
Those who oppose the change say the policy is a quality guarantee, which has allowed teacher education to improve and build capacity. They say it is too soon to change the policy.
Those who support modification say the policy has had unintended consequences, including larger class sizes, reduced opportunities to expand programs or create new ones, and lost opportunities to improve faculty diversity. They say having full time faculty is important and so is respect for institutional judgment when results are positive.
The Department’s opinion is that the stronger arguments favor modification. While the proposal before the Regents in November continues to require that programs have sufficient full-time faculty to meet the mission of the program, it recognizes that no other profession has a fixed percentage requirement for the use of full time faculty either in regulation or in accreditation requirements. In view of the unintended consequences noted above, the fixed percentage substitutes a regulatory judgment for the deliberation of faculty and presidents within higher education even for institutions that have a proven record of performance. Accountability defined by two performance measures would be the better approach.
A third component of the proposal before the Board in November would allow teachers with Initial certification to complete their Master’s degrees within 5 years rather than 3 as now required in regulation. The Board has heard extensively from the field that additional time is needed for teachers to meet this requirement
Key questions: Is the Board ready to continue the process toward modifying the regulations on full-time faculty, faculty work-load teacher education?
The Quality Committee will continue its discussion of the framework for the USNY convocation or summit. The Regents item is a brief summary of the proposal. We do not envision a one-day event but rather a series of actions and regional discussions to enable USNY members to understand the gap in achievement and its economic implications for New York and then to commit to closing the gap. These preliminary actions will support a one-day working session with USNY leaders and other partners. Then we will begin an equally thorough schedule of actions to ensure follow through in the years ahead. The theme is to mobilize USNY resources for a strong future for New York, where strength is realized through a robust economy, a civil society, and a vibrant cultural life for its citizens. Closing the achievement gap that exists from early childhood through post-secondary education is part of USNY’s contribution to a strong New York.
The Quality Committee will review the draft strategic plan, which will come to the Full Board for decision early in 2005. The Board has sought in the strategic plan and also in its 24-month policy calendar to focus on what is essential to the mission. The draft strategic plan still includes too many proposed actions. Therefore, we have asked deputy commissioners to verify the actions that are strategic, essential, and forward thinking. For each action that survives that scrutiny, we will have a one-page schedule of tasks and completion dates.
The approved strategic plan will connect Board policy deliberations and decisions to State Education Department implementation through budget administration, quarterly performance reviews, and the daily conduct of our enterprise.
Archives Award Luncheon
The Annual Archives Award Luncheon has become yet another USNY event because the award recipients represent schools, higher education, local historical societies and, of course, archives of many kinds. The event celebrates not only excellence in archival practice, but also the productive connections that the State Archives created among the parts of USNY. This year, the luncheon is also an opportunity to recognize John Hanna, president of the Archives Partnership Trust, as well as others for leadership and advocacy that contributed to the repeal of the sunset on the use of the state funds to support Cultural Education.
The State Museum’s Scientific Collections
Development and preservation of scientific specimens and cultural artifacts has a long history, which is being added to today. From Lewis and Clark’s “Voyage of Discovery,” Audubon’s collection of birds, the U.S. Exploratory Expedition of 1838-42, right down to J. Michael Fay’s “Megatransect” of 1999-2000, new knowledge has been built on such collections. The New York State Museum is particularly rich in our own examples of such educational resources. As a consequence, the Regents bear a greater responsibility than that of any other state education policy body. The Regents will consider the extent of these collections throughout New York. This discussion will build context for Regents decisions about facilities needed for preservation and use of the collections.
A monthly publication of the State Education Department
Back to Report Home Page | Return to SED Home Page