November, 2003
Report to the State Board of Regents

The Meeting in Brief: The Subcommittee on State Aid will discuss a conceptual State aid proposal, with a decision expected in December. The Regents will evaluate the Commissioner in relation to the performance agreement. The Regents will adopt legislative priorities.  The Committee on Higher Education and Professional Practice will discuss the second volume of the report on the nursing shortage. The Quality Committee will plan for a USNY Convocation in 2004.  The Committee on EMSC-VESID will hear about follow-through on the October policy decisions on assessment and issues concerning annual yearly progress for children with disabilities under NCLB.  Discussion of the framework for middle level regulation continues in preparation for decisions in February.

State Aid Conceptual Proposal

The Regents approach their decision on what to recommend for State aid in an environment that has changed.  The court has decided in the matter of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. The Legislature has not used the existing formula to establish State aid amounts for three years.  The test results have shown the gaps in student achievement, and also where the gaps are starting to close.

The Regents Subcommittee on State Aid will consider two approaches to a proposal. One would modify the existing percentage equalizing formula as the Regents have done in prior years.  The second would create a foundation formula. The Regents item before the committee outlines the pros and cons of both approaches.

If there were ever to be a change in approach, this would be the year.  Returning to the existing formula after three years would be difficult, and that formula has few advocates now.  For the Regents, the most compelling question may be which approach offers the better fit with the strategy to close the gap in student achievement.

We have worked for years to modify the formula based on a percentage of a per pupil amount established in 1994 to drive aid to the highest need schools. Does the Board think the results sufficient?  A foundation formula works on a very different principle. It starts with an estimate of a sufficient spending level to achieve success for children, then calculates State aid as the difference between that cost and a reasonable local effort.  Would this new approach be more effective in getting resources to schools where the gaps are the largest?

The goal is to decide on the best conceptual approach to State aid in November and then consider the detailed proposal in December with numbers.

Regents Priority Legislative Proposals

Regents committees have discussed potential legislative priorities this year and in October that discussion was before the Full Board. In November, the Regents will decide their list of legislative priorities for the coming session.

AYP and Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities need an academic curriculum to meet the standards.  Regents know the variation in student achievement among categories of school districts and also know that some children have more access to the academic curriculum than others do. The current accountability requirements of No Child Left Behind will identify many New York schools as in need of improvement because children with disabilities do not meet adequate yearly progress.  And this presents a dilemma.  If the title of the law is to mean anything, surely we cannot leave children with disabilities behind. Yet school administrators are questioning the consequences of the “In need of improvement” label because they see problems in raising the achievement of children with disabilities fast enough for the federal timetable. We will explore this dilemma with the Regents in November.

Regents Role in Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education

Following the re-registration of 3500 teacher education programs to prepare new teachers to teach to the learning standards, the next phase in the implementation of the Regents Teaching Policy is the accreditation of all teacher preparation programs by December 2006, or within seven years for programs registered after September 2001. There are three options: the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, and Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education.  Since 29 institutions are seeking accreditation by the Regents, the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee will discuss the Regents role in the accreditation process and decision.

Planning a USNY Convocation

In 1904 the University of the State of New York assumed its current form with an act of the Legislature that built upon a proposal from the 1899 Convocation of the University. That Convocation created capacity. Next year would be a good time for another Convocation. Regent Cohen and I have discussed alternative approaches and will bring this discussion to the Quality Committee in November.

A University Convocation is an opportunity to celebrate the significance of the educational and cultural capacity of New York.  It is also a platform to engage member institutions to an even greater extent in a significant task, particularly one that cannot be fully accomplished without joint effort.  A well-conceived Convocation would do both.

The great unfinished task is to educate all to high standards. Stated another way, we must prepare all for work, further education, and the responsibilities of citizenship. What must we do to close the gaps in student achievement? College and school, public broadcasting and museum, profession, library, and vocational rehabilitation center – all of USNY can make a difference.  There are other topics, but none more urgent or significant to New York’s well-being.  How might we proceed?

The Regents received four papers on USNY and its potential during 2001 and 2002.  One of them emerged from three conversations with USNY colleagues. As that paper noted, “We chose these leaders for two reasons: each one is a distinguished contributor in part of the University and each one has the agility to engage issues across institutional boundaries.”  The University is rich in such people, and we could invite a group of them to help us plan the Convocation. Parents, business, labor, and higher education all have powerful incentives to improve student learning and we need them in the Convocation. In addition, we could include members from some of the advisory councils that already assist the Department. The planning might include a concise prospectus, research, and possibly some regional meetings in advance.  The Convocation must add value by creating or strengthening the capacity to close the gap in achievement.

Archives 25th Anniversary

 As we look forward to the 100th anniversary of USNY, the youngest member, the State Archives, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The State Archives received eight national and state awards this year in recognition of its work to make the value and usability of archival material broadly known. For example, the State Archives has twice won the highest award given by The Society of American Archivists. The Archives Award Luncheon this year has special celebratory meaning. It highlights the leadership and success of this enterprise, as well as the work of researchers and records managers statewide.

Nursing Shortage

Regents will discuss Volume II of the 2002 Survey of New York State Registered nurses this month.  This volume includes information on employment climate, and nurses support for various reforms. Volume I has already made a contribution by supporting the Regents priority legislative proposal for scholarships to build nursing education capacity.  Senator Schumer used the Report as the basis for his recommendation for $50 million dollars in federal scholarships to recruit nurses.

Follow-through on Assessment Decisions

In October the Regents made four policy adjustments in response to data related to assessments. Here is what we have done since then.

The State Education Department convened a standard setting committee for physics on November 5-6.  The committee will define passing levels for the January 2004 and beyond.  We will use those new scores to create score conversion tables for the June and August 2002 exams and the January and June 2003 exams by December.

We are assembling a Mathematics Standards Committee.  We plan to have the Committee begin its work in December.

We provided districts with a comparison of current and revised Math A test specifications.  We selected a test form for the January 2004 exam and a committee of teachers will review this in November.

We are preparing the score validation system for use with the revised Math A exam as described in the September Report to the State Board of Regents.

The Committee on Higher Education and Professional Practice will compare the Independent Panel recommendations on preparation of math teachers with current policy and prepare for discussion with higher education colleagues.

The EMSC-VESID Committee will consider for adoption emergency regulations to implement Regents policy on the limited extension of the 55 passing option.

The other half of the Regents message in October – the vital need to press on with the gap closing efforts – requires the attention of all of us.  In the days since the October Regents meeting, I have used every opportunity to speak with school leaders and other members of USNY about what we must to do educate all children to the standards.  This topic took up all of the time at the recent EMSC quarterly review.  In the years since the Regents took the fundamental decision on standards, the expectations of the workplace and higher education have only become greater. The common sense of educating all children to a high standard has only become more obvious.

A monthly publication of the State Education Department

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Last Updated: November 01, 2004