From Senior Deputy Commissioner John B. King, Jr.
December 30, 2009
I want to take this opportunity to wish you, your families, and your school communities a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season and a wonderful 2010. Thank you for all that you do every day to serve students and for your continued commitment to improving education in New York State.
Dr. John B. King, Jr.
Race to the Top
New York’s Race to the Top application is due to the US Department of Education on January 19th. The signed MOUs, indicating school district commitment to participate in New York State’s Race to the Top plan, will be due to the State Education Department via email (RTTT@mail.nysed.gov) and overnight/express mail by 5:00pm on Friday, January 8, 2010.
Race to the Top is a competitive U.S. Education Department grant that is open to State Education Departments. New York State is eligible to receive up to $700 Million in funds which would allow us to accelerate our combined efforts across the state.
For more information, please visit the NYSED Race to the Top website at: http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/.
Questions regarding Race to the Top can be sent to: RTTT@mail.nysed.gov.
December Meeting of the Board of Regents
At its meeting on December 14-15, the Board of Regents acted in support of the following initiatives:
Common Core Standards Review and Adoption ProcessThe State Education Department will implement the review and potential adoption process for the Common Core State Standards and support the development of college- and career-readiness ELA and mathematics learning standards and grade by grade performance expectations.
See the Regents item on Common Core Standards Review and Adoption Process for more information.
Assessment PolicyThe Board of Regents approved recommendations to redesign the New York State Assessment Program. The recommendations include the development of formative, interim, and improved summative assessments in ELA and mathematics; making the grades 3-8 test more comprehensive and integrating computer-based assessments within the Science testing program; and making changes to the Regents Testing Program and including curriculum frameworks and matched assessments in the Arts, Economics and Multi-media/computer technology. The timeline for implementation will depend on the availability of funding.
See the Regents item on Assessment Policy for more information.
P-20 Longitudinal Data System and Growth ModelThe Board of Regents approved development of a potential new accountability model that includes growth measures. The U.S. Department of Education has signaled its intention to encourage the use of growth models by states when Congress takes up the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as early as next year. The State Education Department staff will present a specific proposal to the Regents in the spring. The Committee also discussed the work being done to create the P-20 longitudinal data system, already approved by the Regents. The data system will accommodate the new growth model.
See the Regents item on the P-20 Longitudinal Data System and Growth Model for more information.
Establishing a Graduation Rate Goal and Annual Targets for AccountabilityThe Board of Regents adopted the following policy recommendations for establishing a graduation rate goal and annual targets for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years for submission to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.
- Set for NCLB accountability purposes a graduation goal that 80% of the "all students" group graduates from high school within the specified number of years.
- Establish a progress target for the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years that schools and district below the graduation rate goal achieve a 20% gap reduction for the "all students" group.
- Not establish a minimum graduation rate (floor) for accountability purposes until New York begins with 2011-12 school year results to use a five year extended year graduation rate.
- Set an aspirational graduate goal that 95% of each school's and district's "all students group" graduate within five years and publicize on school and district report cards whether this goal has been achieved.
See the Regents item on Policy Issues Concerning Graduation Rates – Part V: Establishing a Graduation Rate Goal and Annual Targets for Accountability for more information.
Extension of the Regents Competency Test (RCT) Safety NetThe Board of Regents approved the adoption of the proposed amendment of section 100.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to extend the existing Regents Competency Test (RCT) Safety Net to all eligible students with disabilities entering grade 9 prior to the 2011-12 school year. Given the major policy decisions that the Regents will need to make this fall concerning graduation rates, extending the RCT safety net will allow enough time for the Regents and Department to fully analyze all of the policy issues concerning graduation rates, including additional policy implications for students with disabilities. The proposed amendment will become effective January 7, 2010.
See the Regents item on the Proposed Amendment to section 100.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to Diploma Requirements for Students with Disabilities for more information.
Recommendations for Transforming Teacher Preparation and Recruiting Skilled Teachers in High Need SchoolsLast month, the Board of Regents consented to the direction of a series of policy recommendations in Part I of its discussion on Strengthening Teaching and Learning in New York State. The recommendations were highlighted in the December 10, 2009 edition of News and Notes.
This month, the Board consented to policy directions found in Part II of its discussion: Transforming Teaching and Learning and Strengthening the Preparation and Practice of School Leaders. The first seven policy recommendations on Transforming Teaching and Learning seek to strengthen instruction and provide support to new teachers, primarily those in urban school districts with high populations of very high need students. The recommendations are designed to underpin recruitment and retention of these teachers. The recommendations will be advanced by the Commissioner and the Department’s senior leadership, and will also be part of the Governor’s application to the State’s Race to the Top application.
- Create a statewide teacher career leader for school districts to utilize to compensate teachers for improving their teaching practice throughout their careers.
- Develop an enhanced Annual Professional Performance Review for teachers grounded in the newly developed teacher standards and designed to more clearly differentiate the performance of teacher effectiveness employing multiple measures, including student achievement and student growth data.
- Create a model induction program for new teachers designed to create "teacher leaders." Teacher leaders are teachers who seek out opportunities to improve student achievement by collaborating with colleagues to analyze student performance data, put in place strategies for improving instruction, and to continuously improve their teaching practice throughout their careers.
- Create a rich clinically-based undergraduate teacher preparation model focused on serving the needs of students in the performance gap in high need schools.
- Put in place a formative assessment model of professional development for improving teaching and learning in high need schools.
- Incorporate the equitable distribution of effective teachers into district score cards and district accountability.
- Streamline the §3020-a process to preserve the integrity of the teaching profession.
The Board also discussed and consented to the following six recommendations on Strengthening the Preparation and Practice of School Leaders. The recommendations are designed to support the work of principals and school leaders in urban schools and to provide best practices and sound professional development. The recommendations will be advanced by the Commissioner and the Department’s senior leadership, and will also be part of the Governor’s application to the State’s Race to the Top application.
- Put in place a clinically rich approach to prepare school principals to directly strengthen teaching and learning in their schools. Include in New York’s Race to the Top proposal a pilot program to prepare school leaders for high need schools, open to both collegiate and non-collegiate institutions with demonstrated results in raising the achievement of high need students.
- Put in place performance assessments for initial certification of school principals.
- Expand the leadership academies across New York State ensuring that all of the Big 5 cities and all regions of the State have access to professional development through these leadership academies.
- Create a statewide principal career ladder for school districts to utilize to compensate principals for demonstrating progressive improvement throughout their careers.
- Create an Annual Professional Performance Review for school leaders focused on strengthening student performance, feedback from multiple sources and aligning professional growth with areas that need improvement.
- Create transparent data profiles for all institutions that prepare school leaders.
See the Regents item on Transforming Teaching and Learning and School Leadership in New York State for more information.
The Board of Regents also discussed and considered policy questions for several crucial issues:
Making Up Course CreditThe Board discussed a proposed amendment to regulations relating to making up course credit that establishes standards for make-up credit programs for school districts, registered nonpublic schools, and charter schools that choose to offer such programs. It is anticipated that the proposed amendment will be submitted to the Regents for final approval in the spring.
See the Regents item on the Proposed addition of section 100.5(d)(8) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, relating to Making Up Course Credit for more information.
Proposed Methodology for Identification of Persistently Lowest-Achieving SchoolsThe Board endorsed a proposed methodology for identifying the lowest-achieving schools that would be targeted for turnaround intervention and recommendations for how the process can be used to strengthen the Schools Under Registration Review process (SURR). Staff will incorporate these concepts into New York’s Race to the Top application and develop regulations for submission to the Regents to implement these recommendations beginning with the 2010-2011 school year.
See the Regents item on the Proposed Methodology for Identification of Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools for more information.
Update on School Turnaround/Restart/Closure/Transformation StrategiesThe Board discussed a proposed plan for strategies that school districts can use to transform or close and replace those schools identified for turnaround intervention and endorsed recommendations to raise student achievement and close achievement gaps by turning around the State’s persistently lowest achieving schools.
Those recommendations include:
- Pursuing a framework for dramatic school intervention, which includes direct management of schools by external lead partners and possible creation of Partnership Zones
- Using Federal funds to create a statewide Technical Assistance Center for Innovation and Turnaround and use of federal funds to support LEAs that opt-in to use of the four intervention models before schools are identified as persistently lowest-achieving
- Creating a State Education Department Office of Innovative School Models
- Establishing legislative priorities to: authorize educational management organizations to directly manage schools; raise the charter school cap; authorize the Commissioner to order an LEA to convert a struggling school into a charter school; authorize charter schools access to BOCES services; expand the authority of the Board of Regents to intervene in LEAs that have been declared chronically under performing and give the Regents the authority to designate a three-member team to assume the responsibilities of an Education Oversight Board with all the powers of the School Board.
- Amending Commissioner’s regulations to: allow newly created schools to seek operational waivers; align the SURR identification process and persistently lowest achieving schools process; ensure that LEAs’ annual professional performance review plan requires timely and constructive feedback and that the evaluation include performance data for that teacher’s students; and, expand the means by which students can earn high school credit based on completion of competencies.
- Creating innovative secondary schools, including developing a Virtual High School
See the Regents item on School Turnaround/Restart/Closure/Transformation Strategies for more information.
Proposed Amendment of Part 162 of Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to Veterans Tuition Awards ProgramThe Board discussed a proposed amendment to Part 162 of the Commissioner’s Regulations that would establish standards and approval requirements for eligible agencies seeking to obtain approval of vocational training programs for purposed tuition awards to veterans of Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and other Eligible Combat veterans pursuant to section 669-a of the Education Law. New York State statute requires the amendment to go before The Board of Regents. Since other state agencies have established programs for veterans, the amendment provides for those programs to be approved by the Board of Regents. The proposed amendment will be presented for approval at the February 2010 meeting of the Board of Regents
See the Regents item on the Proposed Amendment of Part 162 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to the Veterans Tuition Awards Program for more information.
Recent Commissioner’s Decision of Interest
The Commissioner of Education recently issued a decision regarding the documentation a district may require as evidence to determine a student’s age for admission to school.
In Appeal of R.L., 49 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 15,944 [http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume49/d15944.htm], a parent of a child adopted from another country claimed that the child’s birth certificate was inaccurate and instead attempted to provide medical information to demonstrate her child’s age.
The Commissioner cited to Education Law §3218 and determined that if a parent has a birth certificate or record of baptism, no other form of evidence may be used to determine a child’s age.
School districts should review their registration polices to ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable laws.
Electronic Certification Records
Beginning February 1, 2010, the Office of Teaching Initiatives will no longer print time limited teaching certificates. It will continue to print the certificates that do not have an expiration date. The TEACH online system will serve as the official record for all certificates. The electronic file is more efficient and provides the current certification status of teachers, school leaders, and other certified personnel. For further information see http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/resteachers/memo12182009.html.
Corporal Incidents Report Form
The New York State Education Department reminds Superintendents that Corporal Punishment Report forms must be submitted on January 15, 2010. The report form, which covers the six-month period of July 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009, is available online at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ssae/schoolsafety/CorplPunish/CorporalPunishment.html. Please complete and return the form with the original signature of the superintendent or charter school chief administrative officer to the address on the form. Please do not submit form before January 15, 2009 as data up to December 31, 2009 is required.