February 11 & 12, 2019
The February 2019 Board of Regents Meeting began with a formal recognition of February as Black History Month. After a very moving video presentation that chronicled the African American experience in America (see link below), several African American Board of Regents members shared reflections on personal and family experiences.
The video presentation is very powerful and does an excellent job of presenting a timeline of the Black experience in America. With background music provided by John Legend, Andra Day and Beyonce, the tribute is an excellent resource for any educator or school leader. The link to the video is provided below.
The Board conducted a review of the recently released Accountability Determinations as required by the newly implemented Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) legislation. In addition to ELA and math test scores, the new system includes additional accountability indicators such as science test scores, social studies test scores , attendance, academic growth scores, progress by English Language Learners, and disaggregation by ethnic subgroups.
Data was presented regarding the number of districts/schools that did not meet the required accountability standards. There are currently 4,725 public schoolsin NYS. Under the new ESSA accountability system:
o The lowest 5% of performing schools must be identified as Comprehensive Support and Improvement School (CSI). 245 schools across the state have this designation.
o 106 districts have been identified as Targeted Districts based on accountability criteria.
o 125 schools have been identified as Targeted Support and Improvement Schools (TSI) due to one or more subgroups performing at a level 1 on a combination of the new indicators.
Several Board members commented that they have heard from many school leaders about perceived inequities with the system. Many also expressed frustration that due to the new system’s complexity, they themselves do not have the level of understanding that enables them to address concerns expressed by constituents.
Examples of some of the perceived problems that have been expressed to Board of Regents members include:
- The formula is not equitable for schools with a high percentage of students with IEPs.
- Very little information exists on how improvement plans for identified schools/districts are to be developed.
- The timing of asking districts in the middle of a new school year to respond to data from a previous school year is unfair.
- The format for presenting the accountability data is very difficult to understand.
- What is the plan for the distribution of the 80 million dollars in Title I funds allocated for school improvement in identified schools?
- Using accessibility to advanced courses in high school (AP/IB) as an accountability indicator discriminates against schools that have significant numbers of students who cannot afford the required fees associated with the courses.
Commissioner Elia stated that time will be set aside for more discussion at the March meeting to address concerns. Various aspects of the new requirements will be covered, including expectations for development of intervention plans and information on how funds will be allocated.
The link below provides a summary of the information presented at the meeting. It includes a general summary of ESSA requirements, a breakdown of the general criteria for each of the accountability categories, and the basic expectations for developing improvement plans and implementing required interventions.
The Board reviewed the State’s June 2018 graduation results (2014 Cohort). Some of the highlights included:
o The overall graduation rate remained at approximately 80% which represents a gain of 9.5% from the 2004 Cohort.
o Achievement gaps have narrowed among Black and Hispanic students by 4.7 and 3.8 percentage points respectively since 2011.
o Graduation rates for ELLs and Students with Disabilities went up 2.4 percentage points and 1.7 percentage points respectively.
During the discussion that occurred after the presentation of the data, the Board of Regents conveyed a commitment to exploring ways to increase the number of Alternative Pathways to Graduation. They feel the options are contributing to the improvement in the graduation rates and would like to obtain more specific demographic data on students who are taking advantage of the multiple pathways.
The State Aid Committee provided an update on their proposed budget for the 2019-20 school year. As expected, there are significant gaps between the Board of Regents proposed budget and the budget proposed by the Governor. The link below provides a line by line comparison of what was proposed by each side and the specific areas where the Governor is looking to support or decrease funding.