The Empire State Supervisors and Administrators (ESSAA) had its monthly Stakeholder Meeting with Commissioner of Education, Mary Ellen Elia, and Executive Deputy Commissioner, Beth Berlin, on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.
Present at the meeting representing ESSAA were: ESSAA Executive Director, Mike Starvaggi, ESSAA Vice President, Ryan Schoenfeld (via phone), ESSAA Vice President, Shireen Fasciglione, ESSAA Vice President, John Rickert, ESSAA Member Brian Dunn from Troy City Schools, ESSAA Member Jesimae Ossorio from White Plains Public Schools, ESSAA Staff Member Patricia Cyganovich from North Salem School District (retired) and ESSAA Regents Liaison, Paul Scampini.
The topics discussed included:
New Rules on Athletic Eligibility
The Commissioner was asked for some clarification on the new rules regarding athletic eligibility. She indicated that the main purpose of the new guidelines was to extend a potential fifth year of eligibility to students who have missed a year due to injury or other extenuating circumstances. The extra year will not be granted to students who could have played during all four years of their eligibility but chose not to. She also indicated that she would send out some follow-up guidance to the field to provide further clarification.
Status of Accountability Measures Related to Social Emotional Learning
Mr. Dunn inquired about the status of the initiative to include student social/emotional learning measures in school accountability measures. Commissioner Elia responded that several districts recently participated in the use of sample surveys on a pilot basis. She added that they are currently evaluating their effectiveness and looking to expand their use moving forward.
She emphasized that the use of social/emotional Learning survey results will not be used as an accountability measure for at least two years. She did mention, however, that buildings designated as Schools in Need of Improvement may be required to incorporate measures earlier.
Middle Level CTE Changes
We expressed appreciation to the Commissioner for the recently adopted changes that provide more flexibility with middle level Career and Technical Education (CTE) staffing and curricula.
Commissioner Elia encouraged middle level administrators to look at high school programs in their districts to better align and sequence middle level course work, particularly in areas that can lead to CTE certifications. She also mentioned that they are working with various teacher groups associated with the different CTE content areas to develop sample curriculum strands for districts to review. Deputy Commissioner Berlin agreed to send the names of several districts that have already implemented model programs to us.
After attending the new DASA/VADIR training workshop, Mr. Rickert and Mr. Dunn had some questions about how to determine what incidents need to be reported. They felt that there was ambiguity in the guidelines presented at the workshop which could make it difficult for administrators to be accurate and consistent with reporting incidents. They also expressed concern that a significant number of schools across the state (approximately 70%) report no DASA incidents for an entire school year.
The Commissioner responded that she will be pushing hard to ensure that the regulations are followed and that schools report information accurately. She feels that condensing the DASA/VADIR reporting has made the process more reasonable for administrators and should assist with more accurate data being reported. She also indicated that she is open to ideas for how to improve the training.
Grade 3-8 Testing
Mrs. Fasciglione expressed her appreciation to the Commissioner for the recently adopted changes that that reduce the ELA and Math testing to two days for the upcoming school year.
Commissioner Elia is hopeful that the change will help reduce the high opt-out rates we have experienced in the past few years and encourages us to work with parents to ensure that they are fully informed about the changes.
October is Principal’s Month
Mr. Starvaggi reminded Commissioner Elia that October is Principals Month. The Commissioner agreed to make efforts to recognize the outstanding work that principals do at the October Board of Regents meeting and through social media during the month.
Next Generation Learning Standards
Mrs. Fasciglione asked about the status of the Next Generation Learning Standards. Commissioner Elia responded that she is very pleased that they have been formally adopted but emphasized that they will continue to evolve as they are implemented. She specifically mentioned the Early Childhood Standards as an area that could see revisions.
180 Day Requirement Update
Deputy Commissioner Jhone Ebert is chairing the committee that is working on updating the guidelines and regulations for the school calendar. Regional meetings are being held across the state and we were encouraged to participate and voice our concerns. It is anticipated that the committee will have a plan to present to the Board of Regents for adoption at their February meeting.
Commissioner Elia also reminded us that schools/districts who were out of compliance last year due to confusion with the current policies will not be subject to negative consequences.
SUNY Charter Schools Teacher Certification Requirements Update
When asked about the status of the proposed Charter School Teacher Certification proposal, the Commissioner stated that she appreciates the support of ESSAA and is very strongly opposed to anything that threatens the quality of the strong teacher preparation requirements we currently have in New York State.
New Educational Leadership Standards
Mrs. Fasciglione asked the Commissioner about the timeline for adopting the new Educational Leadership Standards for administrators. She responded that while the new standards were scheduled to be voted on at the most recent Board of Regents meeting, a few of the Board members felt there was a need for more stakeholder feedback. A series of public forums will be held across the state in the near future and adoption of the new standards is anticipated at the December Board of Regents meeting.