Commissioner letterhead April 2008





Two-Year Policy Agenda

The Regents and deputy commissioners have developed a two-year policy agenda in committee and the Board is poised to adopt it this month. As a test of the long term agenda concept, the April meeting agenda, like the two previous monthly meetings, was created using the draft calendar. If the Board adopts the two-year agenda, it will have established the framework for monthly agenda-setting, subject to periodic revision as the Board thinks appropriate.

The two-year agenda will enable the Board to focus on the most consequential policy matters, the State Education Department to be timely in bringing national best practice and research to the Board’s attention, and members of the public and the field to engage during policy making.

Annual Data Release Schedule

At the March Regents meeting, the PII committee discussed an item that proposed certain principles to consolidate the many data releases. Here are the principles again:

The committee also discussed strategies to reduce reporting time for one major data release, grades 3-8 test scores. This could be accomplished by assigning test scoring and scanning to the test vendors in the next test development contract. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this approach, including a large increase in the amount of instruction time (if teachers didn’t score the tests) and more rapid reporting, but also increased cost that could not be supported before the 2009-10 budget.

In April, the Regents will consider a proposal to reduce the number of data releases. For each data set there would be a brief period during which all districts would report data and another brief period within which the State Education Department and the Regents would publish data. We would report the data together with information about what school districts are doing to improve results. We would inform school district leaders of what we will say about the results. The aim is to have a predictable, transparent and data-rich statewide discussion of achievements, shortcomings, and next steps to improve results.

Interim Growth Model

The 2007-08 state budget (Chapter 57, Laws of 2007) requires the Regents to adopt an interim growth model of accountability by the start of the 2008-09 school year. This month the Regents will develop answers to certain policy questions to guide its development. For example, how will the Regents define growth? What is the purpose of a growth model? How will it be used? How will it pave the way for a value-added approach to accountability? How must it be constructed to meet federal criteria for approvable growth models?

The Regents are responsible for defining the accountability system. While the topic is technical, the policy questions are fundamental and only a policy board can answer them. The Regents will consider the advice of technical experts as well as field leaders in crafting responses.

Highly Qualified Teachers

The Higher Education Committee will discuss a report that shows New York has made significant progress toward ensuring that all students have highly qualified teachers. There is still more to do, but the Regents have proposed strategies to complete the task. Highly qualified is defined in NCLB in ways that are consistent with Regents expectations defined prior to the passage of the federal legislation. Here are the highlights of the report:

These data add new impetus to the Regents proposed policy and legislative remedies for the shortage of qualified teachers, including revising the special education certification structure, P-16 partnerships to prepare and place teachers, and using supply and demand data to advise students and support college and university planning.

Progress on Capacity Building: Data, Organization, Practice

The Regents expect a unified recommendation from the three consulting firms they selected to advise them on improving capacity through P-16 data, effective practice to support improvement, and the organization of the State Education Department. The aim is unchanged: higher achievement for all students. How we will attain that aim requires new approaches. The effective practice will define the new work and new services of the State Education Department in concert with regional units and school districts. A P-16 data system helps provide the guidance to focus the application of effective practice. And the State Education Department will focus on delivering those new services.

Consultant recommendations are only part of this. The Regents will decide the course going forward, with some decision points anticipated in July, and the Board will consult widely as they prepare to make those decisions.

Collaboration with Our Partners

The Chancellor has invited Gladys Carrion, Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), to meet with the EMSC Committee to discuss areas of common interest. Staff from P-16, VESID and Office of counsel has been working with OCFS on ways to ease the re-enrollment and transition of students from OCFS facilities to public schools, including the smooth transfer of records and the award of course credit consistent with Regents standards. In addition, Commissioner Carrion and I have toured facilities together and talked to education leaders about these issues.

Clinical Laboratory Law Implementation

The Regents Professional Practice Committee is preparing to define in regulation the educational preparation required for three new professions: clinical laboratory technologist, certified clinical laboratory technician, and cytotechnologist. The Board adopted regulations implementing the statute that created these professions, and interim regulations concerning courses of study. In April the committee will decide when to go forward with permanent regulations.


Two Regents committees are giving additional attention to the education of children with autism. This month, the VESID Committee will conduct a regional off-line committee meeting on autism, which will include parents and leaders from higher education and the school community. The Higher Education Committee will discuss amending regulations to provide autism specific requirements for special education teacher preparation programs. The Department work group on autism has suggested other actions, including a policy memorandum to deans, school districts, and others who are interested in autism. This approach to defining effective practice is an expression of the Board’s intention to build greater knowledge of supports for school and district improvement.

Regulating Proprietary Colleges

The Regents have taken a number of actions since May 2006 to strengthen oversight over and quality in proprietary colleges. SED has concluded that the best way to ensure quality in the proprietary colleges is by conducting regular peer reviews. In April, the Higher Education Committee will consider a legislative proposal to build capacity for a small proprietary college oversight unit within the State Education Department. A revenue source will be necessary to support this new level of public protection.

Audit Trends

The Regents Committee on Audits continues to analyze trends in Comptroller’s audits as it prepares recommendations for Regents policy action. This month, the committee will discuss issues related to procurement found in a number of recent school district and BOCES audits. For example, some districts did not competitively bid for goods and services although required to do so; some contracts were not provided to boards for review and approval; and internal controls were not always in place. State Education Department staff report that guidance is available to districts and BOCES. However, the Audit Committee may want the Regents to consider expanded training, follow-up with districts to see that audit findings are resolved and other policy actions.