BY STATE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER RICHARD P. MILLS
Meeting in Brief.
This month the Board will hear a
presentation by Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s
The Standards, USNY and a P-16 Perspective
and their parents see education differently from many leaders who work in
school, college, or library. As one
college president said at a regional meeting prior to the USNY Summit, of
necessity we focus on the one organization where we work – on its mission,
clients, challenges and risks. Students and parents are more likely to think of
the whole system. How else can we explain the 80 percent of
have taken a whole-system or P-16 point of view. They have pressed others to see
the situation that way in the
preparation for the
Health/Mental Health Partnerships
The first USNY aim is: “Every child will get a good start.” Those words may bring pre-kindergarten to mind, but people working directly with children in many schools will think first of the health and mental health conditions that weigh down both child and parents before learning is possible.
In their P-16 plan, the Regents committed to reducing the barriers to teaching and learning in high need schools by creating a vision and leadership framework for an integrated education, health and mental health collaboration. They also committed to actions that build upon some opportunities right before us. The Regents in December will discuss a paper that describes those opportunities.
Among the concepts that we agreed to create in cooperation with others are these: an interagency health and mental health council, the Children’s Mental Health Plan required by new legislation, guidelines to incorporate social and emotional development into elementary and secondary school programs, and a family partnerships policy.
By the time the Regents meet, we will have also talked with a diverse group of leaders who share our concerns and have created solutions to parts of the problem. We have invited them to help define that vision and leadership framework. The Regents will have their advice just prior to the Board meeting.
There are many good ideas and promising actions. Our challenge is to find the few most likely to improve outcomes for children. And the outcomes we seek are dramatically improved student achievement, which becomes possible when the health and mental health barriers are overcome.
Gap Closing Strategies for English Language Learners
The Regents P-16 strategy to raise achievement and close the gaps points to certain groups of students who need more help. English Language Learners (ELL) are one such group. The Regents will discuss results from the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), and the actions that these results demand. The test measures three dimensions of language acquisition: listening and speaking; reading and writing; and overall proficiency. Students must achieve overall proficiency in English to leave ESL and bilingual programs. This year, only 15.4 percent of the 192,425 ELL students attained proficiency.
The P-16 plan outlines actions to improve ELL results, and the Regents item this month is consistent with that plan. It describes four actions, which include holding schools and districts accountable for meeting improvement targets for English Language Learners, increased monitoring to ensure that students receive the required time and services in English, improved instruction through teacher recruitment and professional development, and increased outreach to parents to help them improve their own reading, writing and speaking in English. Regents discussion of this item might focus on whether or not this approach is sufficiently robust, given the data. In my opinion, we must concentrate on these few actions and with greater intensity than in the past. The measures that matter are improved student achievement. This year, the percentage of students achieving proficiency increased only slightly and from a low starting point. This is not sufficient.
this item in the context of an on-going disagreement with the U.S. Education
Department over one aspect of the implementation of No Child Left Behind. According to USED staff,
would have imposed financial penalties of 10 percent of
The Regents will consider strengthening their policy on the regulation of proprietary colleges to protect the public and the integrity of this sector of higher education. The Regents item proposes regulatory amendments that would require a transition period before new proprietary colleges receive final authority to award degrees. Further, the amendments would require that the sale of degree granting colleges be approved prior to purchase and that the new owners demonstrate the capacity to meet educational and financial standards to operate the institution.
These proposed actions follow a Regents review of policy, with a report to the Board in May, and a series of aggressive actions by the State Education Department to investigate certain high risk proprietary colleges. The Department recently closed one such institution and, with the help of nearly two dozen other colleges, provided alternative placements for 650 students who otherwise would have had no education and would have lost at least a portion of their Tuition Assistance Program eligibility.
We recommend that the Regents adopt the proposed amendment to the regulations.
of Appeals has decided the 13-year-old legal challenge to the state school aid
system. The Court finds an annual
increase of $1.94 billion in 2004 dollars to be a reasonable minimum for
The Regents have a thoughtful state aid proposal that reflects what successful education programs cost. It uses appropriate adjustments for student need, regional cost, and local capacity that have won the support of many participants in this debate. It is transparent so that all citizens can understand it. It is paired with a robust accountability system, which the Regents propose to strengthen even further to ensure that new funds are spent to good effect. It is a solution ready at hand, just when needed.
will discuss the monthly report on
High School and College Alignment
The Statewide Plan for Higher Education commits the colleges and Regents to stronger alignment between high school and higher education, and the Regents built on that in the P-16 plan, which includes renewal of the learning standards to ensure that high school completion means college readiness.
The Regents Policy Integration and Innovation Committee will begin a series of discussions on high school and college alignment this month with three higher education leaders.
A Future Topic: Strengthen Teaching
the U.S. Department of Education approved our plans to ensure that all teachers become highly
qualified, as defined in No Child Left Behind. An important component in that plan is
the school-by-school accounting of how many teachers are highly qualified. The
Regents are on top of this problem. Their P-16 plan requires that all teachers
in core academic subjects become certified in the subject they are teaching by
July 2007. Our plan further
promises reports on the percentage of low income and minority students, as
compared to other students, who are assigned unqualified, out-of-field, and
inexperienced teachers in core subjects.
The Regents and the State Education Department have documented an unequal
distribution of teaching talent in
A monthly publication of the State Education Department
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