July 2004
Report to the State Board of Regents



The Meeting in Brief:  The Regents will meet as a Full Board this month, with no committee meetings other than to address professional discipline cases.  The Regents will vote on the report to the Governor and Legislature – the 655 statistical report.   The Board will discuss proposed 2005-06 budget initiatives and a staff report on strategies to close the gaps in urban school districts. The Regents will continue their oversight of assessment programs by discussing GED programs and results.  The Board will discuss decision guidelines on charter school applications and proposed regulations to implement changes in home schooling.  The Board will then convene for its annual retreat.


2005-2006 Budget Priorities

     While January and the legislative hearings on the 2005-06 budget seem distant, the Regents are actually closing in on two important decision points. The first is the adoption of budget recommendations in September for all parts except State aid – with the State aid decision to follow in November.

     At the July meeting, the Regents will consider six budget priorities that have already come through committees. The Regents item is a draft of the Regents State aid book, which in final form becomes an important part of our advocacy during the legislative session.

 The six priorities are:

 ·       Teachers of Tomorrow

·       New Century Libraries

·       Integrated and Supported Employment

·       Post Secondary Education and Disabilities

·       Nursing Faculty Scholarship

·       Strengthened Accountability to Ensure Effective Use of School Resources

     Key question: Does the Board now have the information it needs to vote on the budget priorities in September?

Charter Schools

     The charter school law precludes the adoption of regulations. The intent was for the law to stand for itself without further elaboration. As the Regents and others have gained experience with charter schools, several difficult questions recur during debate on whether or not to approve a particular application. Examples include the financial consequences of a series of charter schools on a community, or the adequacy of facilities. In July the Regents will discuss a list of such questions, and once the Board defines the full list, we propose to develop answers in discussion with the Regents in September and November.

     In addition, the Regents will act on proposed revisions to three existing charters; renewal of two charters (New Covenant in Albany and Sisulu in New York City) and applications from three new charter schools, one in Buffalo and two in New York City.

     Key question: Does the Board agree with the list of topics to support decision making on charter applications, subject to further development of details?

 Chapter 655

     The Annual Report to the Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State’s Schools (Chapter 655 Report) is an important part of the accountability system.  While the Board has considered much of the data during the year, its approval of the Report is an opportunity to reflect on its most fundamental policy. The 655 Report describes remarkable student achievement gains among the schools. It also defines the gaps in performance and the inequity in opportunity associated with those gaps.  Here is one sample: “Schools with the highest percentages of minority students – who are frequently also poor – have the least experienced teachers, the most teachers teaching out of certification, and the highest rates of teacher turnover.”  The paragraphs that follow identify differences in attendance, test scores, and other measures.  The Regents consistently honor the efforts of local educators to improve results and never flinch from their obligation to point to the gaps and the resources needed to close them.

     Regents will also find in the conclusion of the Report a history of the current effort to improve education.

     Key question: Does the Board approve the 655 Report for transmittal to the Governor and Legislature?

Report on Urban Initiatives

We have a 10-minute video about former SURR schools and what they did to improve.  How can we secure such improvement everywhere?

     The Regents will discuss a staff report on strategies to close the gaps in student achievement in urban school districts.  It begins with a description of the city children entering kindergarten, then it turns to the gaps in opportunity that await them in too many urban schools. We briefly consider the support systems that exist, recent trends in achievement, and the levers for change. 

      What we must do now will be difficult, but unavoidable. New York has Universal PreK but now we must make it universal in fact.  Children enter kindergarten not knowing letters, sounds, and that means they won’t read on time, or maybe won’t read at all. We know the reasons for incomplete rollout of PreK. Let’s overcome the reasons and give every child a good start.

     We must find and prepare many math and science teachers and place them in the lowest performing schools. There are many people willing to help devise the way to do this.

     We have raised expectations for students with disabilities.  Now we must increase districts' capacity to provide effective special education services using research-based methods.

     Let’s make what we know about teaching reading available wherever children score at level 1 or 2.

     We can create a replicable instructional program for the youngster who enters 9th grade unable to do 9th grade work.

     We must create postsecondary options for students who otherwise will drop out. And, as Kati Haycock of the Education Trust says, “we must help the public concentrate on dropouts while also helping them understand that high standards do not cause dropouts.”

     Finally, we need new allies to demand still higher standards. Those allies are there in higher education and the business community.

     Key question: What will make this strategy stronger?

 Regents Oversight of Assessment: GED

     This item is a carry-over from the June Regents Meeting.  The EMSC-VESID Committee continues its series of reviews of assessment this month with discussion of a Department report on General Educational Development (GED) tests.

Here are some observations from a reading of the staff report. New York has two kinds of programs leading to the GED credential, and both are limited to students with very few course credits toward graduation. Enrollment in GED programs is up statewide with most of the increase in New York City.  GED reporting requirements have changed over recent years and become more exacting. There is an interesting anomaly: reported transfers from schools to GED programs have not increased but enrollments went up. The report also shows that regular high school graduation numbers continue to go up modestly – which suggests that dropouts cannot explain rapid GED enrollment increases. The pass rates for GED test takers have risen, with New York now showing greater success than the rest of the state. Finally, GED programs are under increasing accountability, although we still have more to do.

     Key Question: As the Regents continue their oversight of assessment programs, is there any additional information they require concerning GED programs? 

Home Instruction

Regents have discussed home instruction in relation to higher education enrollment in three previous meetings. In July the Board will consider draft regulations for action in September.

     Key question: Does the Board have the information it needs to vote on the draft regulations in September?

 A Scorecard on Legislative Advocacy

     The Regents have eight priorities for State legislative action in the 2003-2004 session. The Legislature has ended its formal session. It is not known at this time whether the Legislature will take up any of these bills in special session between now and the end of the year. Here is the current status of these priorities.



Regents Priority Legislative Proposals for 2003-2004


New Century Libraries


Regents bill introduced in both houses. Similar but not identical bill introduced in Assembly. All left in committees.


Improvement of Postsecondary Disability Services



Regents bill introduced in both houses. Similar but not identical bill introduced in Assembly. All left in committees.


Access to School-Based Health and Mental Health Clinics




Regents bill introduced in Senate. Similar but not identical bills introduced in both houses. S.2778-A (similar bill) passed Senate.


State Aid



Must be included in state budget legislation. No agreement on budget yet.


Allowing Retired Public Employees to Return to Teaching and Administrative Jobs Without Loss of Pension


Regents bill introduced in Senate. Similar but not identical bills introduced in Assembly. All left in committees.


Nursing Faculty Scholarship Program



Regents bill introduced in Senate. Similar but not identical bills introduced in both houses. All left in committees.


Revising the Public Accountancy Law



Regents bill introduced in both houses.  Senate amended its bill; Assembly did not. Both left in committees.                       


Planning and Reporting


Not introduced in either house


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Last Updated: November 01, 2004