Parents and educators have frequently recommended that resources for parents and their involvement in the education of children should be strengthened. This year, we will be working with all Department offices and partners to create more effective strategies for school/parent partnerships.
Several comments from the field focused on the way in which P-12 communications are issued including the clarity of message in correspondence, timeliness of communications and ability to navigate our information system so that the people who need information receive it when they need it. Several people praised the Web site and all the information it contains. However, they also identified difficulties in navigating the Web site, especially finding important Department updates. The P-16 leadership team will review the information on the Web site and work with the Department’s project management office to determine ways to improve ease of use with the Web site.
This year efforts began to simplify the language used in communications so that it is more “user friendly” and less bureaucratic. We are also exercising other options to improve our communications. These include an enhanced “News and Notes” and “School Executive Bulletin,” and reaching out more widely to our partners including the college community, the District Superintendents, representatives of professional associations and unions (including NYSCOSS, SAANYS, NYSUT), and Teacher Centers, as well as legislators and others.
Several recommendations were also shared for improving the timeliness of the release of examination scores. Some commented that while the quality of the assessments is good, the resulting data are released too late to inform instruction. Planning is now underway to determine what options are available and expedite the release of this information where possible with reliable schedule expectations. Some members of the Board of Regents have also recommended that we explore new options including the greater use technology in the administration and scoring of examinations. While significant follow-up is needed in this area, one survey respondent commented on preliminary progress, “The examination score release time was excellent last year, for the first time. This was a sign of progress.”
At the same time that we are looking at possibilities for releasing data earlier and in a more strategic manner that will drive instruction, we are also looking at the number of releases on school data to the press. Some have expressed concerns that the multiple releases are disruptive and do not yield the results for which they are intended. During 2006-07, there were 15 different releases of data and media events regarding school performance. In response to feedback from the field, for 2007-08, we have reduced that number to 11. For 2008-09, we are looking very carefully at each of the data releases to create a more strategic plan for the release that is not only based on the availability of data, but also what will inform school instruction. Streamlining the data releases will provide administrators, teachers, policymakers, and the public with the information they need while allowing for more time for analysis and discussion of the data being released. Advance notice to schools on data releases is also now routinely provided. With the assistance of the Department’s Communications Office, beginning in the Fall of 2007, school districts, professional associations, teacher and administrator representatives, and other key leaders are now given 48 hours notice before any releases are shared with the press. Last, we are going to install a policy that will enable school districts to share additional information to describe what they are doing as it relates to the information reported to the press.
Programs to Assist At-Risk Students: The Department operates two programs designed to encourage middle school and high school students to go to college: the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and the Liberty Partnerships program (LPP). Of graduating high school students who had participated in STEP, 89 percent earned Regents diplomas; 85 percent of those graduates planned to attend college. Through LPP 55 colleges and universities collaborated with schools and other local stakeholders to deliver comprehensive pre-collegiate drop-out prevention programs to at-risk students across the State. Data for the programs include a drop out rate of 1.17 percent; a Student/School Persistence Rate of 98.83 percent; a 12th grade graduation rate of 90 percent; and a College-Going Rate of 80 percent, with 76 percent of college-going students continuing education in New York.
The field has indicated that more resources are needed to support this important P-16 opportunity. The Board of Regents is seeking funding to expand STEP and LPP in order to assist greater numbers of at-risk students to graduate from high school and enter college.
The new P-16 structure that the Board of Regents created can more systematically result in opportunities to maximize linkages between the State's P-12 system and our colleges and universities to help students succeed. Example of successful P-16 collaborations and new P-16 proposals and initiatives include:
College Courses for High School Students
In the fall of 2007, the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, reported the results of a study of high school students in Florida and in New York City taking courses for both college and secondary credit. It found that they were (1) more likely than their peers to earn a high school diploma, (2) significantly more likely to go to college, (3) more likely to go to a four-year college, and (4) more likely to enroll full-time. Once in college, they were more likely to persist and to earn significantly higher grade-point averages than their peers. New York has many opportunities for high school students to take college courses. They include:
New P-16 Proposals to Close the Achievement Gap
P-16 Approach to Reviewing and Updating the State’s Learning Standards
Tuition Assistance Program Grants to Students Without a U.S. High School Diploma
Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2007 required the Board of Regents to identify federally approved Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) tests appropriate for use by higher education institutions to enable applicants for State student aid who do not have U.S. high school diplomas, or the equivalent, to qualify for aid.