March 2004
Report to the State Board of Regents

The Meeting in Brief:  The Regents will discuss several issues related to closing the achievement gap, including middle level education, the School Report Card, and state aid.  The Board will continue its periodic review of assessment topics with a discussion of strategies to modify the effects of NCLB on children with disabilities, and the practices of other states in cases where students pass course work but not graduation exams.  As part of continuing work to strengthen the State Education Department, the Board will recognize the second group of graduates from the Department’s Leadership Academy.  The Regents will conduct an election for Chancellor and Vice Chancellor.

State Aid

The Regents helped to advance the discussion of state aid by putting thoughtful concepts in play through their own proposal and by showing an attitude of respect for the proposals of others. One way we can continue in that role will be to help decision-makers to understand areas of convergence as well as disagreement among the various proposals.

Since the last Regents meeting the Campaign for Fiscal Equity has recommended a foundation program with a four-year phase-in to $9.56 billion.  The State Education Department has prepared a side-by-side comparison of the CFE proposal and the Regents proposal. Later this month the Zarb Commission will report and we will revise that comparison chart. 

Earlier this month, the State Education Department hosted the Education Finance Research Consortium where scholars presented papers on financial adequacy, resource distribution in large cities, accountability and teacher policy.  Over the years these research seminars have created new knowledge and built a foundation for the Department and Regents, advocates, legislative staff, and other participants in state aid debates.

AYP Report on Special Education

The Regents seek adjustments in the federal accountability system for children with disabilities.  Students with disabilities benefit by being part of an accountability system because they get more exposure to the academic curriculum.  NCLB accountability needs adjustment, however, because it sets arbitrary limits on the use of alternate exams and creates other requirements that have the effect of compelling a rate of improvement for children with disabilities that is faster than for other children. These requirements seem inconsistent with IDEA, and the reauthorization of that act offers an opportunity to make appropriate adjustments.

Deputy Commissioners Rebecca Cort and James Kadamus prepared a four-part proposal to amend IDEA and resolve the problem:

·        Measure student performance on standards at the student’s appropriate grade level to calculate adequate yearly progress (AYP).

·        Allow states to use the alternate assessment, with justification required if the number exceeds three percent of the students.

·        Allow realistic expectations of improvement in the “safe harbor” provision of NCLB.

·        Use only mathematics and English language arts results in calculating AYP for children with disabilities.

We will discuss these proposals with the Regents, and if the Board concurs, we will advocate for these changes with the Congress.

Continued Discussion of Middle Level

We return to the Regents with the middle-level-proposal unchanged from last month. It appeared from the Committee discussion in February that the Board is closing in on a policy decision. We have urged advocates to concentrate any further commentary on the particulars of the item as it appears now, with a focus on how we propose to resolve the issue of flexibility, and how we would implement the policy through local self-study and peer review.  We are providing a question and answer document to respond to issues needing clarification or elaboration.

College Admission Requirements for Home Instructed Students

A joint session of the Committees on EMSC-VESID and Higher Education and Professional Practice will consider the policy and regulatory issues presented in a November memorandum concerning college attendance for certain home schooled students.

The aim is to enable home schooled students of compulsory attendance age to attend college without a high school diploma but with approval of the superintendent to ensure that the course work meets requirements for high school.  The regulations would also permit students beyond the compulsory school age to obtain their college degrees without having received a high school diploma if they have met alternative requirements.


School Report Card Data

The School Report Card data appears again in mid-March.  This report will include more students than before.  This increase is caused, in part, by our move toward an individual student record system and by our ability to count students who transfer within districts. We will examine trends in test taking and passing at 55 and 65, the performance of the cohort of students who entered 9th grade in 1999 in different categories of school districts, and dropout data.


Developing Leaders: Leadership Academy II

We will introduce to the Regents in March the second graduating class of the State Education Department’s Leadership Academy. The Chancellor and I will award certificates to the 23 graduates. The Leadership Academy is a demanding yearlong program that is one part of our commitment to succession planning and professional development.

The Department senior leadership assigned five challenging topics to the members of the Leadership Academy as a graduation requirement and we are reviewing their reports now for potential application. One member of each of the five teams will provide a two-minute summary of the projects. The five topics are:

·        On-line student assessment.

·        How to make USNY more visible in one region, and how to create a continuing presence through partnerships focused on raising achievement

·        The opportunity to create flexible project management tools and practices in the State Education Department to improve project success rates and reduce costs.

·        A “balanced scorecard” to manage VESID procurement processes.

·        Strategies to recruit public school students into teaching.


Continuing Review of Assessment Topics

The EMSC-VESID Committee will continue its periodic discussion of various aspects of assessment with a discussion this month of the practices in other states.  This report will describe appeals procedures and other alternatives used in other states in cases where students have passed course work but not the state exams. Future discussions will focus on the results of the New York State English as a Second Language Test, the GED test, and grade by grade testing, among other topics.


Research on Effectiveness of Teacher Preparation in New York State

The Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee will hear from Professor James Wyckoff on the research he will be conducting on the effectiveness of New York teachers in the classroom.  This independent research study of alternative and traditional teaching pathways is an important next step in the implementation of the Regents 1998 Teaching Policy.


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Last Updated: November 01, 2004