Based upon the invaluable feedback we received from our key partners, both an educational and an organizational vision were identified to guide the future work of the P-16 operation, consistent with the Board of Regents policy.
One of the aims of the University of the State of New York (USNY) is that, “Everyone will graduate from high school ready for work, higher education, and citizenship.” Both the Board of Regents Statewide Plan for Higher Education and the Board of Regents P-16 Education Action Plan emphasize the importance of graduating students who are ready to continue their education beyond high school.
Listening to our partners, customers, and staff was a core operating principle for all of our work in the first year. At the same time that we were listening to ways in which we could be a more responsive organization for long term systemic change, we also took action on many of these principles, gleaned from the field conversations, during the course of our operation this year. As the longer term strategies are described and planned, examples will be provided in this report of how such improvements were made in advance of the more formal organizational plan.
Consistent with the feedback from the education community, the following directions are proposed for the Board of Regents consideration to help transform the Department’s P-16 operation into a true service organization focused on assisting all educators to raise student achievement.
We heard an overwhelming number of comments about the perception in the field that there is a lack of attention to what is working in schools. Given the importance of sharing good practices and encouraging success where it exists, this coming year more attention must be placed on promoting the good work that goes on in schools every day. This would entail more emphasis on highlighting successful schools-including those with the greatest challenges as well as those that have achieved greatness in any arena. This year we have started the planning for such an approach. The work in which the Board of Regents is engaged to develop a growth model for the State will also help us identify new tools in this area and provide support for this approach.
Similarly, many expressed concerns that we must also work on challenging all students, including those farthest from achieving proficiency. This conversation has begun with the review of the learning standards and should be continued to ensure that all students reach their full potential.
In one-on-one conversations with partners and stakeholders, as well as in response to the service satisfaction survey, we have consistently heard the field request a greater voice in the earliest stages of policy development. This year, efforts began with the significant involvement of the field in the development of the Contract for Excellence initiative from the very beginning of the process; extensive involvement of the field in the development of all new regulations approved this year (ranging from teacher tenure to proprietary school reform); and the new EMSC and Higher Education committee meetings of the Board of Regents in the field. This involvement was very well received by the education community and needs to be routinely built into the timeframes for implementation of all policy development to ensure that the work of the Regents and the Department is aligned with the needs and expectations of the education community.
The Department’s data collection and reporting system is a critical tool to ensuring high standards of quality education and accountability in schools across the State. There has been considerable concern expressed about the timeliness of data and the processes associated with staffing the nySTART data collection and reporting system. This feedback was shared by a majority of our partners, customers, and Department staff. According to survey respondents regarding this issue:
Since the Department’s P-12 data system (comprised of many parts including local school management systems, regional information centers (RICs), and the statewide repository at the western New York RIC) will also become an integral part of the P-16 data system, the P-12 data collection and reporting processes must be strengthened at all levels. Given the critical nature of this work, we have already begun major steps on improvements, including assessing problems associated with our data collection system and obtaining critical user advice so that improvements are informed by the needs of customers. We are pursuing a number of strategies and securing resources to support the transformation of the system including: