ESSAA Stakeholders Meeting: November 4, 2014
Dr. John B. King, Jr., New York State Commissioner of Education
The Empire State Supervisors and Administrators Association (ESSAA) meets regularly through the year with the New York State Education Department Commissioner of Education, Dr. John B. King, Jr. and Deputy Commissioner of Education, Dr. Cosimo Tangorra, to discuss a variety of common educational topics that are of concern to the Commissioner and ESSAA members.
This month the ESSAA Stakeholders Meeting with the Commissioner was held on November 4, 2014 at 10:15 am at the New York State Education Department offices at 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY. Present at the meeting were: NYSED Commissioner Dr. John B. King, Jr., Dr. Cosimo Tangorra, Bill Evans ESSAA President, Dave Wagner, ESSAA liaison to SED and the Board of Regents, Richard Kimble, President, Southern Tier Supervisors and Administrators Association (STSAA), Carol Conklin-Spillane, Vice President, Regional Association of School Administrators (RASA), Mark Beehler, Western New York Administrators Association (WNYAA), Albert (Skip) Voorneveld, Executive Vice President, Council of Administrators and Supervisors (Nassau and Suffolk Counties).
This meeting provided the ESSAA stakeholders group with the opportunity to meet the new Deputy Commissioner of Education, Dr. Cosimo Tangorra, who just replaced the recently departed, Ken Slentz, now the Superintendent of the Skaneateles School District.
- Finances and Flexibility – Part 154 Commissioner’s Regulations The focus of our conversation with the Commissioner revolved around the need for local school districts to be provided the finances needed to implement the new Part 154 CR’s with fidelity and the flexibility needed to implement them in ways that can be supported by local tax levies under the 2% tax cap and the state aid provided. Many high-needs, low-wealth school districts are currently providing quality and creative programs for the unanticipated influx of new students who do not speak English and have had little or interrupted school experiences in their former countries. The situation in some districts is exacerbated by the recent influx of unaccompanied minor students, some who are already high school age. Districts that are providing successful ELL, now ENL, programs within their budgets will be hard pressed to provide expanded bilingual classes, ENL classes within a two year grade level span, dually certified teachers, co-teaching programs and expanded transitional services. Districts with the greatest needs for our most vulnerable students providing the best programs may be forced to make critical financial decisions regarding the provision of special education, general education and elective programs like music, art and Advanced Placement courses. Dr. King agreed that the unprecedented migration of unaccompanied minors and continued growth of ELL (ENL) programs in many districts will require additional funds to be appropriated by the legislature. He was optimistic that the legislature would meet in an emergency session this fall to provide some relief for districts experiencing this problem like Hempstead on Long Island. He further suggested that each affected school district write to their State Senators andAssemblymen to make them aware of the need for additional state aid to rectify the current situation and the need for additional state aide for the 2015-16 school year to fully implement the new Part 154 Regulations.
The Commissioner also provided the group with the Regents State Aid Committee Framing Document (from October Regents meeting) http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2014/October2014/1014sad1.pdf wherein Dr. Tangorra outlined the department requests for Targeted Funding Options to include:
- Increased Support to Career and Technical Education (CTE) Pathways to Graduation
- Expanded Access to Full-Day Prekindergarten Funds
- Support for English Language Learners’ (ELLs) Success
- Financial Support to School Districts Experiencing a Surge in Student Enrollments
- Support for Regional Secondary Schools
- Encourage School District Reorganization and Expanded Regionalization of Services
- Instructional Materials Aid for CC Standards and new NYS Social Studies Framework
Status of the PARCC Assessments – The conversation centered on the department’s recent decision to not initially administer the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Assessments and let the other PARCC partner states (Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island) administer the assessments first during the spring of the 2014-15 school year. Although the department conducted some PARCC Pilot testing last spring they will not initiate testing this spring as previously planned. Rather, the department will evaluate the pros, cons, and unanticipated difficulties associated with the initial administration in other states before committing fully. It appears the state School Technology Referendum approved on Election Day will be devoted, in part, to helping schools purchase the computer hardware needed and to construct the broad band infrastructure needed in some districts to conduct large scale computer testing required for PARCC.
The recent announcement of a new Global Studies 2 (1750 – present) in 2016 along with the development of new CC ELA and CC Math Regents exams further clouds the PARCC picture.
The ESSAA stakeholders agree with this but also noted that PARCC should not be implemented until SED commits to one testing program or the other and provides the resources need to develop student and teacher readiness for them.
- Newly Proposed Graduation Requirements for ELL students – At the October Board of Regents meeting the Regents approved amended Commissioner’s Regulations to allow ELL students who enter the United States in 9th grade or above in the 2010-11 school year to graduate with a Local Diploma pursuant to an appeal process if they score between 55-61 on the Regents Exam in English and meet all other conditions for appeal of a Regents score. ESSAA agrees with this approach but suggested that the eligibility entrance date be rolled back to the 2009-10 school year to incorporate those 5th and 6th year ELL students still pursuing the Local Diploma. ESSAA also discussed individually examining late arriving ELL s with interrupted schooling that might have a disability but will not meet classification regulations because of gaps in their learning and suggested allowing them to access a CDOS diploma.
- Pathways to Graduation 4 + 1 – ESSAA thanked the Commissioner for the flexibility provided in the new Pathways to Graduation 4 + 1 outlined in the proposed amendments to sections 100.2 and 100.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner to establish multiple pathways to graduation for high school students enrolled in Humanities, STEM, CTE, and the Arts by substituting either the Global 2 Regents Examination or the United States History Regents Examination with a rigorous examination in their major field to be determined by the department.
We inquired if there would be any room for an appeal/variance for 5th or 6th year seniors who have not been able to meet the current graduation requirement of their cohort class, but could meet the new 4 + 1 proposal. Dr. King indicated this is something that could be looked at before the requirements are finalized.
As the 4 + 1 graduation requirements have not be enacted yet, we noted our desire to have clarity on which exams will be approved alternatives for LOTE and art, etc., besides AP and suggested that dual enrolled SUNY courses taught in our high schools be considered viable alternatives to fulfill the new mandate.
While discussing the new pathways to graduation, ELL students and the CC roll out, the Commissioner promised to offer the old algebra regents one last time in June to accommodate students currently enrolled in two year stretch courses.
- School Safety and Accountability – ESSAA related concerns voiced by some members requesting relief from the twelve mandated fire drills in light of the bomb evacuation, go home, shelter in place and lock down drills that have been added over the years. The Commissioner related that mandated fire drills are required by legislative statute and there is no current enthusiasm in the Senate or the Assembly to propose a reduction.
The Commissioner also indicated that the Board of Regents has prioritized legislative efforts to better support school districts and insure that all students have a safe school environment. He indicated that the current VADIR and DASA reporting systems may soon be replaced with a more supportive School Climate Survey to identify schools needing support and to more accurately define a school’s culture in line with the curriculum rather than an incident driven school safety report.
- Consolidation / Regional High Schools – The Commissioner reiterated his budget recommendations and legislative priorities include supporting the development of more Regional Secondary Schools throughout the state through incentives and his continued encouragement for School District Reorganization and Expanded Regionalization of Services
- Student Achievement v. Growth –
ESSAA brought up some confusion in the field over the use of Student Growth Percentiles and the lack of guidance from NYSED. Specifically, the commissioner was questioned on the intended use of Growth Percentiles outside of the APPR, are these scores to be reported to parents?, can they be reported to parents?, will we begin to see a shift from achievement reports to growth reports? The commissioner indicated that additional guidance will be provided and that Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner will attend our next stake holder meeting.
- BOCES Regional Information Centers – ESSAA brought up the disparity of available information for instructional leaders from varying Regional Information Centers (RICs). The commissioner indicated that he shared the concern and had recently published a document identifying the reports available through each Regional Information Center and provided the RIC Data Reports for 3-8 Assessments link for our information:http://www.boces.org/Portals/0/Web%20Docs/RIC%20Reports/NYSRICsCommonDataViews6.pdff .
This will likely be an ongoing discussion, but ESSAA will post the information on the ESSAA website.
- Where are they now? SED Reports – The Commissioner indicated that the department has recently reached out to district superintendents in an effort to survey students who have graduated to determine where they are now. Most districts already track students upon graduation to determine if they entered a career, the service, a two-year post-secondary school, or a four-year post-secondary school. The problem for the state is that it is relatively easy to back track students graduating from CUNY or SUNY institutions, but much more difficult to track students graduating from private colleges and out of state colleges. It will then in turn be difficult for superintendents to track those students down through traditional home surveys.
The meeting concluded at 11:15 am.