From Senior Deputy Commissioner John B. King, Jr.
March 17, 2010
Important Information about 2010 Grades 3-8 Field Tests
In response to feedback from our colleagues, the Department will be changing the dates for the 2010 Secure Audit Tests/Field Tests for the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Testing Program. Field tests will be administered to all students in all schools participating in the 2010 Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests (a full census field test) from May 12-14. This differs from previous years when schools participated in field tests according to the schedule provided in the Elementary- and Intermediate-Level Field Test Matrix. Each field test booklet will include a section with ELA questions followed by a section with Mathematics questions. The participation of all students in these field tests will ensure that the 2011 tests will be valid and fair assessments. A revised memorandum regarding the May 12-14 field testing for the Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests can be accessed on the Department’s web site at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/.
NGA/CCSSO Seeks Public Comment on Common Core State Standards through April 2
The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers has issued for public comment the K-12 Common Core State Standards. Since spring 2009, New York State - along with 50 other states, territories, and the District of Columbia - has been involved in the process of creating common core standards in English language arts and mathematics.
The New York State Education Department is seeking your feedback on the draft standards through an online survey (one for the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science and one for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics). To access the draft materials and respond to the surveys, please visit the NYSED Common Core State Standards toolkit at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/common_core_standards/toolkit.html. Your comments will be compiled and forwarded to NGA/CCSSO. If you would like to respond directly to NGA/CCSSO, please visit http://www.corestandards.org to access their survey.
March Meeting of the Board of Regents
At its meeting on March 8-9, the Board of Regents acted in support of the following initiative:
General Educational Development (GED) Program Budget and Policy Considerations
The Regents College and Career Readiness Working Group recommended that the Board of Regents approve the short-term actions to address immediate budget concerns in the GED program, including suspending the $20 reimbursement for testing site contracts. The Working Group also discussed possible long-term actions to address GED policy and budget concerns and endorsed gathering feedback from the field on those recommendations. The Working Group also endorsed a proposed work plan and meeting schedule for the College and Career Readiness Working Group and staff will work on the details for future meetings.
See the Regents item on the General Educational Development (GED) Program Budget and Policy Considerations for more information.
The Board of Regents also discussed and considered policy questions for several crucial issues:
Broadband Access - Update
The Board was given an update on data concerning broadband access in school buildings in New York State, including a map that shows where the schools are that do not currently meet a 100 mbps standard. New York State’s Office of Cyber-Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination (CSCIC) is leading the effort in New York State to develop a map showing broadband capacity in “community anchor institutions” (e.g., schools, libraries, hospitals, etc.) and homes across the State. SED is contributing to this mapping effort by providing broadband data for K-12 schools, higher education institutions, and libraries. Staff will provide more complete data that includes schools that are not part of the Regional Information Centers (RICs) and the Big 5 school districts to the Regents in April.
See the Regents item on Broadband Access for more information.
EMSC Budget Imbalance and Possible Cost Savings Strategies for the NYS Assessment Program
The Board began a discussion about the structural imbalance that currently exists between available EMSC resources and costs of the NYS assessment program and student data systems. The Board also discussed the flexibility of state and federal funds. The budget imbalance has occurred due to reductions in state General Fund support and past reliance on federal carryover funds that are no longer available. For 2010-2011, the projected deficit will be $11.5 million and for 2011- 2012, the projected deficit will be $21.3 million. The reductions in the state General Fund over the past three budget cycles have compelled the Department to rely more on the use of federal carryover funds to support the cost of data and assessment. These carryover funds are projected to be materially expended by the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year and unavailable for use in the 2010-11 year. The budget imbalance is compounded by the fact that the cost of the NYS assessment program has grown exponentially in the last five years due to inflation and the addition of more tests. Staff identified some possible options for the Regents to consider in order to address the deficit, which include:
- advocating for additional funding and the Regents budget priorities with the Legislature
- downsizing the NYS Assessment program
- reducing reliance on external vendor contracts by hiring additional staff to do some work “in-house”
- reducing the amount of State-level funds that are going to Technical Assistance Centers by bringing the work “in-house”
The Board also discussed options and possible cost savings strategies targeted specifically at reducing the costs for the NYS Assessment Program. Staff provided data on the number of students who take the various 3-8 and Regents exams to illustrate the impact of eliminating various tests.
In light of the ongoing and significant fiscal challenges facing the Department, the Commissioner and Senior Deputy are asking the Regents to prepare for all contingencies, including possible changes to our assessment system. It is important to note that no cuts have been proposed and no decisions have yet been made; the Regents simply began discussing various options at this time. The Regents, the Commissioner, and the Senior Deputy will continue to make every effort to identify additional resources to support a rigorous and robust assessment system aligned with college and career readiness. As part of this effort, the Regents amended their 2010-11 state budget request to include an additional $7 million for assessments.
The Board will continue these discussions at future meetings.
See the Regents items on the EMSC Budget Imbalance and the Possible Cost Savings Strategies for the NYS Assessment Program for more information.
Alternative Pathways to Earning Credit
The Board approved a conceptual policy on receiving course credit for independent study. Draft regulatory language will be brought back to the Regents for discussion in April.
See the Regents item on the Draft Proposed Policy on Receiving Course Credit for Independent Study and General Part 100 Guidance to the Field for more information.
The Importance of Summer Reading
In response to an earlier request from Chancellor Tisch, the State Library has developed “The Importance of Summer Reading: Research Findings on Summer Reading and Learning.” This new White Paper, which is still a draft and a work in progress, highlights key research on the importance of summer reading to long-term student success and achievement.
In addition to the White Paper and the new program name and logo, several new statewide activities in 2010 will further promote and support “Summer Reading at New York Libraries”:
- Websites: more downloadable materials for librarians, educators, and families; reading lists; research information; and links to further information
- Statewide on-line registration for public library summer reading programs with Evanced software product—the leading national software for summer reading
- Collaborations with school libraries, NYS Public Broadcasting, State Museum, SED, and other education organizations.
- New collaborative activities with the Senate and Assembly to promote summer reading in local communities.
See the Regents item on The Importance of Summer Reading for more information.
Students with Disabilities Teacher Certification
As part of their ongoing review of teacher policy, the Joint Committees of Higher Education; Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education; and the Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities discussed concerns about the current special education certification structure and the fact that it is not meeting the needs of students with disabilities in the State, especially at the adolescence level, where there are documented shortages. This month the Committees discussed a framework to modify the structure of certification categories to create a 7-12 Students with Disabilities (SWD) Generalist certificate that includes the possibility of subject area extensions, eliminate the SWD 5-9 Generalist and Content Specialist certificates, and plans to create more flexibility for special educators to move between the three developmental levels of certification. Additionally, the Regents agreed that there should be increased requirements in teacher preparation programs for candidates to learn the importance and process of professional collaboration, and increased special education pedagogy, focused on ensuring that the educational needs of New York’s students with disabilities are met. Proposed regulations will be developed and shared extensively with the field prior to Regents adoption.
See the Regents item on Students with Disabilities Teacher Certification for more information.
Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) for Limited English Proficient Students/English Language Learners (LEP/ELLs)
Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires state educational agencies (SEAs) to hold local educational agencies (LEAs) accountable for meeting annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs) for limited English proficient students/English language learners (LEP/ELLs). AMAO is the accountability measure for Title III, as Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) is for Title I.
Please see http://www.p12.nysed.gov/biling/NEWTIII.html for a memo to School Districts regarding the most recent report on AMAOs and required plans. If you have any questions please call the Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies at (518) 474-8775.