BY STATE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER RICHARD P. MILLS
The Meeting in Brief: The June meeting is mostly about completing the work for decisions scheduled in July and beyond. The
Regents will consider the University of the State of New York as a whole and
several of its parts. We will discuss a GIS map of USNY that illustrates
opportunities to close the gaps in student achievement. After extensive
discussions with practitioners and the higher education community, the Regents
will start the clock on adopting leadership regulations. They will review a
report on the alternative certification program and consider Chancellor Joel
Klein’s request concerning certified teachers. Regents will continue their
study of student achievement with a report on performance indicators in special
education among the five major cities. Regents will hear from two experts on
issues related to Regents policy: Dr. Robert D. Felner, Professor and Director
of the School of Education at the University of Rhode Island, will talk to us
about middle level education. Lucretia McClure, Special Assistant to the
Director of Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University Medical School
will talk about the value of libraries in professional decision-making.
Mapping USNY – and Following the Map
The University of the State of
New York, or USNY, is a remarkable enterprise made up of thousands of
educational and cultural institutions. Since
2001, the Regents have considered four reports on USNY's current and potential
contributions to the people of New York. Regents
have visited USNY institutions of all kinds, listened to their leaders,
advocated for resources, and adopted policy affecting all of them. But where is
USNY? How are the elements related? In
June we will consider a map of all USNY institutions in one part of the state.
People think of a map of New York
from their own perspective. For example, a librarian will know about the great
university collections, the library systems, and the school libraries. Most of
them will have seen our map of where people live without a public library
available to them. A school superintendent will think about the school systems
and their differing levels of performance.
A college president may think about the diverse institutions of higher
education – which institutions are competitors and which are partners.
The Regents task is to think about the whole system and to help others
recognize and use the capacity it represents.
State Education Department staff
has prepared a sample map of USNY. It
suggests many questions and opportunities for action. Regent Cohen and I will
outline for the Regents several actions that each Regent might take in the
coming months to better realize the potential of USNY to confront and overcome
significant public policy problems.
Special Education in the Large Five City School Districts
What actions can we and others
take to improve the achievement of students with disabilities?
The answers come from questions directed to the data.
The June State Education Department report on special education in the
five large cities describes student achievement and several indicators
associated with performance.
General education and special education are parts of the same system. Low capacity and poor results in general education are associated with low performance in special education.
Special education results in the
five large cities vary but are generally lower than the state average. The Regents will consider the differing levels of achievement
among the large cities as well as in relation to the state as a whole.
The five cities differ from one another in other indicators including classification rates and placement patterns. These differences are associated with differences in performance. Understanding these patterns will lead to more effective local and state actions to boost student achievement.
We can learn a lot by comparing
capacity, practice and performance in the five cities.
The real standard, however, is not to be the best among the five – all
of the five are too low today -- but to meet the standard the Regents have set
for all schools.
Policy Statement on Middle Level Education
In July the Regents will decide
their policy on middle level education. The
topic is urgent not only because of the recent results on middle grades English
Language Arts tests but also because of the public hearings. Many participants are eager to turn to the regulations that
will make policy concrete.
Two new pages in the draft (pages
10-11) define the essential strategies. These words seem familiar. We heard
similar ideas from those who lead middle schools exhibiting rising
The final sentence on page 11
notes the importance of USNY in implementing these strategies.
That is true, yet we did not engage all of USNY in creating this draft.
Decision and implementation of the regulations are still months away so
as we proceed with our policy schedule, let’s bring in still more leaders from
higher education, the disability community, libraries, public broadcasting, and
the many other members of USNY. Continued low performance on average in the
middle grades is a concern for all of USNY.
Review of Regents Teaching Policy – Alternative Certification
In June the Regents will receive
the second in a series of reports on the alternative certification program.
This report will include data on enrollment and attrition, and the
findings from interviews of fellows, mentors and principals.
There will also be data on the assignment of fellows.
We will consider both the successes and the problems. As we evaluate
these data we will remember that the Regents intend the alternative to be simply
a different path to the same high standards for teaching.
Certified Teachers in New York City
At the May Higher Education
Committee, I reported on New York City's efforts to recruit sufficient numbers
of certified teachers by September. I
will have additional information for the Regents prior to the June meeting.
At this writing, we are still evaluating the data and developing a
Defining Persistently Dangerous Schools
State Education Department staff
is creating a proposed definition of "persistently dangerous schools"
as required by federal law. We are
using objective data -- primarily involving weapons possession in school. We
will continue to develop other data so that in the future we can add other
factors to the definition. This
proposal will come to the Regents in June.
USNY’s core responsibilities
include self-renewal as well as public service and one way the system
accomplishes both aims is by preparing leaders in every field.
USNY prepares school leaders. The Regents have engaged thousands of
people in understanding the needs for
leaders – and of leaders.
The development of these
regulations benefited greatly from the engagement of higher education systems
leaders over the last year. The
regulations reflect the experience of school practitioners.
In the thousands they helped define the knowledge and skill required of
school leaders. The regulations
establish an expectation of joint venture between theory and practice, higher
education and experienced practitioners.
The regulations also permit able
individuals from other fields to enter certain educational leadership positions
under conditions that will enable them to succeed at a high standard.
In July the Regents will adopt
regulations which will lead to changes in leadership education throughout New
Other Matters Before the Regents
The Leadership Academy’s First Class
The State Education Department
began a Leadership Academy last fall to prepare staff members for greater
responsibilities. The selection
process was competitive but so many able candidates applied and the early
results of the first class were so impressive that we began the second class
before the first one graduated. In June we celebrate the graduation of the first
2004-05 State Budget Initiatives
With an eye toward Regents
decision on a budget recommendation in September, the Regents standing
committees will evaluate 2004-2005 budget proposals. A Full Board discussion of
budget initiatives will follow in July.
School Accountability and School Report Cards
The Regents have prepared for
more than a year to amend our accountability system to conform to No Child Left
Behind. Regents discussions, the
Committee of Practitioners, listening to educators and others around the state,
and consultation with the U.S. Department of Education have prepared the Regents
for decision on regulations in July.
The heart of the matter is
definition of adequate yearly progress, how to measure it and related actions to
implement this concept.
Annual Regents Retreat
The Quality Committee will
develop a plan for the Annual Regents Retreat. Topics under discussion include
the performance gap and poverty and how the Board organizes and schedules its
The Quality Committee will
discuss how to proceed in developing policy on technology.
The staff proposal was presented in Full Board in February.
Mental Health Professions
Legislation has created a
category of Mental Health Professions under the care of the Regents. Over the
next year the Regents will take a number of actions to ensure effective
oversight. The Professional
Practice Committee will discuss the plan for that work.
Stewardship of the Collections
The 24-month policy calendar
includes decisions to improve our stewardship of State Museum, Library, and
Archive collections. In
preparation for those decisions, the Regents will inspect Museum labs and
collection storage conditions this month.
1998 Cohort Data for Limited English Proficient and English Language
These new results amplify the
material the Regents discussed in February.
The data provide still more information about the performance gap.
A monthly publication of the State Education Department
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