BY STATE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER RICHARD P. MILLS
The Meeting in Brief: The Commissioner’s oral report to the Regents will concentrate on a single item: the outline of a P-16 reform, which is attached. The Regents asked for the outline at their July policy retreat. EMSC-VESID will discuss school districts that do not meet performance targets for children with disabilities, and a potential policy on high school graduation rates. Both of these items are part of the P-16 draft. The Regents will receive the monthly report on Roosevelt, and discuss the conceptual proposal for their State Aid recommendation, which is scheduled for decision in October.
The Next Stage of Reform: Outline of a P-16 Strategy
The Regents, at their July policy retreat, asked for an outline of the next stage of the reform. Chancellor Bennett said that it must be “big, dramatic, and innovative, take advantage of New York’s unique structure, and address inequities.” The ideas presented in the outline reflect Regents discussion at their Education Summit in November, their 24-month calendar, and in many committee meetings and Full Board discussions. The outline is attached as a part of this Commissioner’s Report to the Regents.
Student achievement has improved over the last decade in response to Regents policy and local action. But the improvement is not adequate. In addition, the world has changed in the last decade as billions of people have entered the global economy for the first time and, as a consequence, helped ignite a global education boom. Every society that can afford to do so is moving urgently to improve knowledge and skill and to close their own version of the achievement gap. We must, therefore, redouble our efforts to reach higher standards.
The outline does not repeat the problems because the Regents and USNY leaders investigated them rigorously at the Summit and in Regents meetings over the last half year. (The data report from the Summit appears as an appendix to the outline.) The link is http://usny.nysed.gov/summit/data_packet.pdf. Instead the paper proposes concrete actions that the Regents could take to improve results. I suggest that we discuss the outline informally during “Question Time” at the beginning of the Regents meeting, seek the advice of the Committee on Integration and Innovation, and then discuss the P -16 outline in each committee beginning in October. With the advice of the committees, the Regents can specify which actions they want to take and when.
Closing the Gap – Students with Disabilities
The Regents in their policy retreat in July called for more focus on and more monitoring of the achievement of students with disabilities. The Regents earlier adopted a framework for a State Performance Plan, consistent with NCLB and IDEA. The State Education Department has used performance measures, including English Language Arts and mathematics performance, graduation rates, and dropout rates to identify school districts that need to improve. The EMSC-VESID committee item also describes practices that are likely to improve results, together with monitoring and enforcement.
High School Graduation Rates
The Regents have discussed strategies to improve high school graduation every month since November 2005. We focused public attention by publishing school by school graduation rates, and an unacceptable statewide rate of 64 percent graduating by the fourth year. The Call to Action from the USNY Summit proposed one strategy among many others: set graduation rate targets to focus local action. EMSC-VESID will discuss a method to calculate targets for graduation rates and attendance.
The USNY Summit concluded in November with a public exchange of commitments and a promise that the Regents would reconvene USNY leaders to review progress and the way ahead. The Regents again committed to that idea in their policy retreat in July and asked for a proposal. The Regents will discuss a proposal to convene USNY leaders in December. The proposal envisions a smaller group than in November, and a communications plan to spread the message to a much wider audience. And consistent with the July discussion, that proposal includes discussion of the P-16 strategy with USNY leaders at Summit 2006.
The Regents will receive the monthly report on the Roosevelt School district as they requested.
State Aid Recommendation: The Conceptual Proposal
The Subcommittee on State Aid will present for decision the Regents conceptual recommendation on State Aid, based on the Foundation idea. The financial data will be presented in October.
A monthly publication of the State Education Department
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