June 2003
Report to the State Board of Regents

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 performance.

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 recommendation.

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.

Educating Leaders

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 York.

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 class.

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 work.

Tech nology Policy

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 Learners

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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Last Updated: November 01, 2004