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The Empire State Supervisors and Administrators (ESSAA) had its monthly Stakeholder Meeting on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 with Commissioner of Education – Mary Ellen Elia, and Senior Deputy Commissioner – Jhone Ebert.

Present at the meeting representing ESSAA were: ESSAA President, Carol Conklin-Spillane; ESSAA Executive Director, Mike Starvaggi; ESSAA Executive Vice President, Skip Voorneveld;  ESSAA Vice President,  Dr. Shireen Fasciglione; ESSAA member, Ron Gonzalez and ESSAA Regents Liaison, Paul Scampini.

Topics discussed at this month’s meeting included:

Director of Health and Physical Education Certification

The meeting began with a discussion about the certification requirements for Directors of Health and Physical Education.  Citing a situation in Western New York, Mrs. Conklin-Spillane  asked about the requirement that anyone holding or seeking this position must possess physical education or health teaching certification in addition to their administrative certificate.  She questioned why this is the only administrative area with a specific teaching certification associated with it, and feels the regulation greatly restricts the opportunity for districts to hire candidates who may not have PE certification but are highly qualified.

Commissioner Elia responded that she was unaware of this inconsistency with the regulations.  She indicated a willingness to look into it and asked us to submit a summary statement with suggestions for possible waiver options, which we will do.  If any member has experience or information that would be helpful to the issue, please share it with us at

Status of Proposed APPR Legislation

Mr. Scampini asked Commissioner Elia for an update on the pending  APPR legislation which would significantly change how state test results are used in the evaluation of teachers and principals.

The Commissioner commented that she does not have a great deal of information on the current status of the bill.  She stated that there is no question that the APPR process needs to change but has concerns about some of the changes being proposed and the lack of stakeholder dialogue that is occurring.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Implementation

Mrs. Conklin-Spillane expressed some concerns regarding the two day information workshops that are currently being offered to superintendents on implementing the ESSA plan. She expressed concern about the large amount of material being presented  and with the fact that they are being offered at a time when it is very difficult for administrators to be away from districts/buildings.

Commissioner Elia responded by emphasizing that superintendents have a professional responsibility to ensure that all necessary administrative staff in their districts are competent in the steps required to successfully implement the ESSA plan. The Commissioner feels that without the training, superintendents will not have the background necessary to be successful.

Deputy Commissioner Ebert added  that, in addition to the two day trainings, they are developing webinars on various ESSA components that will be available in the near future to provide additional support.

The Commissioner also mentioned that high schools will experience the largest impact during the first year of  ESSA implementation.

2018 3-8 ELA and High School Global History Administration

Dr. Fasciglione expressed concerns about the recently administered ELA assessment, specifically the amount of writing involved with the second day of the testing.  She mentioned that a significant number of students at each of the grade levels in her building worked until after 2PM to complete the various writing tasks.

Commissioner Elia responded that she felt this was due to the reduction of testing days from three to two and the untimed format.  She insisted that adults need to monitor students and provide feedback  to students to ensure that they complete the test in a reasonable amount of time.  Additional guidance will be provided from NYSED in the future.

Mrs. Conklin-Spillane stated her belief that offering the high school Global History exam in early June is disruptive to schools and creates an unnecessary day of lost instruction.  She asked Commissioner Elia if there is a plan for the exam to be rolled back into Regents week next year rather than being given in early June.

Commissioner Elia seemed very surprised that a number of schools were not open to all students on the testing day.  She went on say that schools need to plan so that they can offer regular instruction in addition to administering the exam. Mr. Gonzalez shared some very valid reasons for why his school did not offer regular instruction on the testing day and expected only students who were taking the test to attend school.  Once again, any information you wish to provide would be helpful for our follow-up conversation with the Commissioner on this topic.

School Climate Surveys

Mr. Gonzalez asked about the status of the School Climate Surveys that are being administered in approximately 100 pilot schools across the state this year.  Commissioner Elia responded that they have not yet analyzed the data which has been generated from the surveys.  She said there will be another round of schools piloting the surveys next year with the goal of eventually implementing a School Climate Index into the ESSA accountability formula for all schools.   She encouraged any principals who are interested in participating in next year’s pilot to contact her office.

Below is a link to the US Department of Education Survey that is currently being used:


Available Funding for Administrator Professional Development

Deputy Commissioner Ebert was asked about available professional development funding for administrators in the coming year.  She responded that no new funds are available but that districts should be using Foundation Aid and Title II monies to fund administrator professional development initiatives.  Commissioner Elia added that superintendents need to ensure that administrative PD in the coming year focuses on effective implementation of the ESSA regulations and the Next Generation Learning Standards.

Deputy Commissioner Ebert also mentioned that they are using funding available through the Principal Preparation Project Grant to work with colleges and selected districts to align administrative preparation coursework with the newly adopted leadership standards.  In addition, they plan to begin working to develop microcredential courses relating to specific administrative skill sets that align with the standards.

Professional Learning Teams – Implementing Next Generation Learning Standards

As part of the Commissioner’s agenda for the meeting, Commissioner Elia emphasized the need for  administrators to facilitate the effective implementation of the Next Generation Learning Standards in their respective buildings.

Below is a link to guidance information that NYSED has provided.

180 Day Calendar

Also as part of the Commissioner’s agenda, she informed us that there a couple of very minor revisions to the 180 Day guidelines that will be approved at the June Board of Regents meeting.   The specific change(s) will be provided in the meeting summary next week.

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