July 2005
Report to the State Board of Regents

Meeting in Brief:  The Regents will discuss three items on their 24-month policy calendar: early childhood education, state aid to schools, and the 2006-07-budget recommendation. The Board will appoint members to the Interim Roosevelt Board of Education, review charter school applications, approve the Chapter 655 report on school performance, and discuss standards for chartering museums and historical societies. The Regents will conduct their annual policy retreat.


New Policy for Early Childhood Education


Renewing policy for early childhood education is a Regents priority, and an item of the Board’s 24-month policy calendar. In March the Regents discussed a framework for that policy. In July, the Board will discuss a draft policy statement and then decide whether or not it is ready for distribution statewide for another round of review before the Regents adopt new policy in December.


In its most concise form, here is the draft policy statement contained in the Regents item:



Early childhood education, for all children ages birth through grade 3, is an integrated system designed to ensure that each child receives a healthy start and attains the skills and concepts to have a successful academic experience in developmentally appropriate programs.  Components of the system include standards-based programs that start early, instruction by highly qualified persons, and an environment that coordinates comprehensive services and provides information and support to families.

The details that follow that summary assemble many issues that the Regents have discussed separately on other occasions: standards and assessment, curriculum, preparation of teachers, data and its use in guiding instruction, the role of families and other care givers, interagency partnerships, state aid and the essential contributions from many USNY institutions. 


The policy draft stands on research, other available data, and extensive statewide discussions that began last year. Expect controversy. The draft will no doubt evolve in the further discussions to come, but if the main points survive the deliberative process, the Board will have charted a bold course. Education will begin earlier. We will have made a commitment to give all children in New York a good start – a USNY aim. And we will have created systems that quickly sound the alarm where that is not the case.


The draft does not yet include a cost analysis. When it does, we will have to demonstrate that the significant investments required would be offset in part by major declines in remedial costs now incurred because today we do not give every child a good start.


Recommendation: That the Regents approve the policy draft for discussion with all interested parties, and after weighing what they hear and making appropriate revisions, that the Regents adopt new early childhood education policy in December.


Regents 2006-07 Budget Recommendations


The Regents annually make budget recommendations to the Executive and the Legislature. The recommendations include “aid to localities” in budget lines affecting parts of higher education, cultural education, professions, and other programs within their scope of responsibility; “state operations,” which allow the State Education Department to function; capital projects; and state aid to education.


The Board develops these recommendations starting in April by reviewing existing budget initiatives, proposals from Deputy Commissioners, Regents committee input, and discussing Board priorities and our strategic plan.


This year, the Board decided to accelerate the budget process by three months in recognition of last year’s Court of Appeals decision that stated that the Executive branch constructs the budget. It is therefore essential that the Regents recommendation be available to the Executive early in the fall.


State aid figures are not yet available, but all the other estimates are before the Board now. The proposed increases for Regents priority budget initiatives total over $226 million, which represents a 15 percent increase over 2005-2006 appropriations.  Additional items are listed for future needs which add another $223 million, a 9 percent increase, for a grand total increase of 24 percent.  Obviously, we have more work to do to produce a sustainable proposal.


Recommendation: That the Regents discuss the whole budget proposal, with the understanding that additional figures for state aid will be forthcoming at a later meeting, and again reflect on its consistency with Regents priorities, the strategic plan, and also financial sustainability.


Discussion of 2006-07 State Aid to Schools – 24-Month Calendar Item


Regents will discuss the conceptual proposal for state aid to schools in July. The Board is scheduled to vote on the conceptual proposal and the full proposal (with financial implications included) in September and October respectively.


The proposal before the Board this month reflects Regents decisions in two previous budget cycles. That is, the proposal again includes the foundation aid concept that would base aid on the cost of successful education programs, with appropriate adjustments for regional cost differences, intensity of student need, and also computes – but does not require – a reasonable local share in the cost of education.


The major new idea here is to fund special education through a parallel foundation formula to provide for the costs of programs for children with disabilities. Students with disabilities would generate aid though both the general education foundation and also through a separate foundation calculation that would use a single weighting factor for students with disabilities.


And as before, the proposal includes systems to further strengthen accountability for results and effective use of state aid funds.


Recommendation: That the Regents discuss the draft conceptual proposal, provide any further policy direction they find necessary, and ask for a final conceptual proposal for approval by the Board in September.


Standards for Museums and Historical Societies


Regents standards for chartering museums and historical societies are substantially unchanged since 1971.  Now the Board is near the end of a two-year deliberation on what standards would be consistent with current best practice. A vote to adopt new standards is scheduled for September.


The draft standards reflect not only current thinking, but also discussions with interested parties in nine hearings over the last two years. The standards would require museums and historical societies to have mission statements, audit committees, and certain additional protections for their collections.


In our discussions about the State Education Department of the future during the June Regents meeting, we noted that we intend to be a standard setter in every field we enter. Here is an example.


Portfolio Assessment


The Regents will consider for approval a proposal that specifies the requirements students enrolled in portfolio schools must meet as the 65 graduation standard is phased in. The proposal applies only to the 39 schools previously permitted to use portfolio assessment. The proposal defines year-by-year exam requirements for each entering class of 9th graders.  Students entering 9th grade in 2009 will be expected to pass five Regents exams or approved alternatives at 65 or above in order to graduate. The proposal allows the schools sufficient time to enable students to meet the graduation standards, and develop their assessment programs to meet generally accepted assessment standards if they wish, while bringing these schools into a consistent policy framework with all other public schools by a date certain.


Recommendation: That the Regents adopt the proposal and direct the Department to prepare regulations for approval in September.


Chapter 655 Report


Chapter 655 of New York State Education Law requires the Regents and the State Education Department to report annually to the Governor and Legislature on student enrollment, achievement, and other data concerning graduation, attendance, teacher preparation and related matters. The draft report is before the Regents for approval. It describes recent improvements in student achievement but makes plain the serious gaps in performance.


Recommendation: That the Regents approve the Chapter 655 Report and direct the State Education Department to provide the report to the Governor and Legislature.


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Last Updated: July 20, 2005