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News and Notes Archive


From Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier
January 13, 2009


New York’s 2009-2010 Differentiated Accountability Pilot Program Approved by USDE

I am pleased to report that Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has announced that the United States Department of Education (USED) approved New York to participate in the 2009-2010 differentiated accountability pilot program.

States that are approved under this model are granted flexibility to modify, within certain constraints, the system of sanctions and interventions that occur when a school is identified as in need of improvement. In October, the Regents approved a differentiated accountability proposal for submission to the USED. The proposal was reviewed by Federal peer reviewers who commended the Regents and Department for submitting a detailed, specific plan. The peers noted in particular the effort that New York had made to align federal and state accountability systems, the use of the Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) process to provide a safety net to ensure aggressive intervention in the lowest-performing schools and New York’s intent to use distinguished educators to support improvement effort in those schools that have consistently failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress.

The next step will be for Department staff to develop regulatory amendments to implement a differentiated accountability plan for the Regents consideration in the next few months. Input from the field will be sought during the regulatory development process. In order to implement the plan for the 2009-10 school year, regulations will need to be in place by July 2009. Department staff will also develop technical assistance materials and will conduct regional meetings to assist school districts and school staff to implement the new differentiated accountability system in the 2009-10 school year. On-going technical assistance will also be provided throughout the school year.

More information on the differentiated accountability system will be shared with the field in upcoming weeks.

Important Information Regarding Administration of the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts

We have received questions for the field regarding administration of the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Tests on the day of the Presidential Inauguration and wanted to provide clarifying information. Schools arrange to administer the English Language Arts Tests to students during specified administration weeks. Within each grade, schools are to administer the test on the same day to all students except for those students who are absent. Schools may schedule the tests for different grades on different sets of days within the specified weeks. Districts may choose not to administer the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Tests to students on Inauguration Day, but should try to be consistent in their scheduling for all schools within a district.

The make-up weeks, which immediately follow the administration weeks for the Grades 3-5 and 6-8 English Language Arts Tests, are to be used for administering make-up tests to students who were absent for any reason during the primary administration weeks. The make-up weeks can also be used to complete the initial administrations in schools that were closed due to inclement weather or other unexpected events for one or more days of the primary test administration week. Make-up testing may begin during the primary administration week on any days that remain following the school’s completion of initial testing and must be completed no later than the last day of each of the make-up weeks. The make-up testing periods ensure that all students, including those who attend the Inauguration, are afforded access to the assessments.

We hope this information is helpful. Examination schedules can be found at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/osa/schedules/.

Nominate an Outstanding Teacher for the 2010 Teacher of the Year

The application for the 2010 Teacher of the Year Award is now available on the Web at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/kiap/TEACHING/toty/totyindex.htm. The New York State Teacher of the Year program, which is run in conjunction with the National Teacher of the Year program, recognizes and celebrates outstanding teachers throughout the State. To be eligible, a teacher must be appropriately credentialed within his or her current teaching area, working directly with students (pre-kindergarten through grade twelve) in a State-approved public, private or charter school and have a minimum of five years teaching experience. A teacher may be initially recommended for nomination by any person within the school or community including parents, students, business leaders, school administrators or colleagues. Deadline for nominations is Friday, February 13, 2009. We look forward to receiving many applications from our statewide teachers for this important teacher recognition initiative. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Kathleen Clarity, Teacher of the Year Coordinator, at (518) 486-6042 or via e-mail at: tdpr@mail.nysed.gov. Thank you.

January Meeting of the New York State Board of Regents

The New York State Board of Regents met in Albany on January 12 and 13, 2009. Advance materials, meeting agendas, and committee reports are available on the Web at http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/. Highlights of items discussed this month include:

  • Over the coming months, the Board of Regents will convene important policy discussions about the largest number of students in the gap (English Language Learners; Black and Latino students, particularly males; and students with disabilities ). This month, Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, discussed strategies with the Board of Regents for improving performance and graduation rates of Black and Latino male students.
  • As part of an ongoing discussion on the administration of Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests, this month, staff provided the Board of Regents with additional information regarding the current and future Grades 3-8 Testing Program. The Regents discussed a series of improvements underway to reduce the cycle time for the release of test results and the time of the year in which tests are given. Future discussions will include feedback from the field on changing the testing schedules as well as logistics associated with scanning and scoring. This will be followed by discussions on the next generation of tests for value-added accountability decisions.
  • The Board of Regents considered a revised set of recommendations for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The recommendations retain the core elements of those approved in 2007 and reflect developments that have occurred in the past two years. Future discussions will be held on this important topic.
  • Progress made to re-engineer operations in the Office of Teaching Initiatives to respond to fiscal constraints was discussed. The Regents considered potential opportunities for creating further efficiencies and supporting the teacher certification operation in a time of reduced resources.…and more.

The next meeting of the Board of Regents is scheduled for February 9-10, 2009.

Information from the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Department of Health on Potential Health Risks to Children from Outdoor Air Contaminants

In December 2008, USA Today published a series of articles focusing national attention on potential health risks to school children from outdoor air contaminants released by industrial sources near schools.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation and State Department of Health have reviewed the data, and have developed a summary letter of their findings based on the original USA Today articles and current research methods.

Please see the response at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/facplan/documents/USATodayLetter-Final_010809.pdf

2009 New York State Summer School for the Arts

The 2009 New York State Summer School of the Arts Brochures and application forms for the 2009 New York State Summer School of the Arts were distributed in December to schools, arts organizations, public libraries and community groups across the State. The eight component schools (Ballet, Dance, Choral Studies, Jazz Studies, Orchestral Studies, Media Arts, Visual Arts, and Theatre) offer pre-professional residential summer training programs for students who are considering careers in the arts or entertainment fields. Students work with internationally acclaimed artists and artistic companies. Students are selected for participation through auditions held regionally across the State from January - March. Tuition assistance is available based upon financial need. Information and applications can also be found on the NYSSSA Web Site at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/nysssa/ or by contacting: Summer Institutes Office, Room 866 EBA, State Education Department, Albany, NY 12234, Phone: (518) 474-8773 or FAX: (518) 473-0770, E-Mail: nysssa@mail.nysed.gov

Virtual Roundtable on School Dropout Prevention

A free online virtual roundtable on School Dropout Prevention is being offered this spring by the Medaille College School of Education. The virtual roundtable is being offered exclusively to New York State administrators and will be available to registrants from March 1 through May 1, 2009.

The online experience will feature 24 hour access to discussion boards, You Tube type interviews with leading practitioners, and a sharing of the latest research in the field of dropout prevention. The program will feature those school leaders and communities who work in schools with a history of high dropout rates that have found ways to demonstrate a tide changing graduation rate. "Success Stories” and “How-tos” for confronting the dropout rate will also be key elements of the virtual round table site. Mr. James Thompson, a member of the Medaille Education Department and former New York State Elementary Principal of the Year and National Distinguished Principal, will be the host.

Administrators may register for the virtual roundtable by e-mailing Dr. Fran Murphy, Founding Dean of the Medaille College School of Education, at fmm32@Medaille.edu.

Appalachian Regional Commissioner (ARC) - Oak Ridge National Laboratory Institute

The Appalachian Regional Commission, in collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is sponsoring a two-week residential hands-on learning institute focusing on math, science, and technology for high school students and teachers from New York State’s Appalachian Region (Allegany, Broome Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties). This year’s institute will be held from July 11 - 24, 2009. Spaces have been reserved for two students and two teachers from New York’s Appalachian Region. All expenses, including airfare, are paid by the ARC. The application deadline is February 15, 2009. Information and applications for this unique program can be found on the SED website at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/si/.

Dentists Providing Free or Reduced Cost Dental Screenings to Students

A list of dentists who are willing to provide free or reduced cost screenings to students is now available on our website at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/. We encourage you to share this information with parents and guardians of your students. We will continue to work with the Department of Health to keep the list updated.

Last Updated: September 23, 2010