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News and Notes
Dear Colleagues,

In this edition of News and Notes, w e highlight the expanding diploma opportunities for students with disabilities;  videos and information related to New York State's My Brother's Keeper initiative;  and the Summer Reading program launch . In addition, the Board of Regents acted earlier this month to provide flexibility in meeting teacher and principal evaluation requirements. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) also released guidance about Community Schools aid. Finally, late last month, NYSED released the highest ever percentage of questions from the 2016 grades 3-8 ELA and math tests.

Regents Reyes_ Mead_ and Hakanson
I want to take the opportunity to introduce the newest members of the Board of Regents. Please join me in welcoming  Regent Luis O. Reyes, Member at Large; Regent Nan Eileen Mead, M ember from the  1st Judicial District  of New York; and Regent Elizabeth S. Hakanson, Member from the 5th Judicial District of New York.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of the students across New York State. Have a great summer.


MaryEllen Elia
Regents Expand Diploma Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

graduation cap and diploma
Earlier this month, the Board of Regents adopted new rules that allow certain students with disabilitie s to meet the academic requirements to earn a Local Diploma without passing every Regents exam that is otherwise required for graduation. The rules became effective on June 20, making it possible for students with disabilities, who were otherwise eligible to graduate, to do so this month. School superintendents are now required to determine, at the local level, if a student with a disability is eligible for graduation.

There are some students who, because of their disabilities, are unable to demonstrate their proficiency on standard State assessments, even with testing accommodations. Because English language arts and math are foundational skills for which there must be a standardized measure of achievement, students must achieve a minimum score on the ELA and math Regents exams. However, for the other Regents exams typically required for graduation, this option allows for superintendents to review other documentation of proficiency when the student cannot pass one or more of these exams.

Flexibility in Meeting Teacher and Principal Evaluation Requirements
teachers working together
Also earlier this month, the New York State Board of Regents adopted new rules that provide school districts with more flexibility in meeting teacher and principal evaluation requirements by the September 1, 2016 statutory deadline for State Aid increases. School districts that demonstrate it is a hardship to meet the independent evaluator requirement for teachers and principals can apply for a waiver from the State Education Department. Under the new rules, independent evaluators are still required for teachers and principals with an annual professional performance review (APPR) rating of Ineffective.

The Regents acted last year to provide a hardship waiver from the independent evaluator requirement for rural and single-building schools, but the Board is now going further by providing an expansion of the waiver to all school districts.

In addition, the State Legislature extended the deadline to December 31, 2016.


Find out more about flexibility in meeting teacher and principal evaluation requirements.

Improving Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color
In 2014, President Obama established the My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Task Force at the federal level. The Task Force was an interagency effort focused on closing and eliminating the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color so that
all young people have the chance to reach their full potential.

With the adoption of the 2016-2017 New York State Budget, New York became the first state to accept the President's challenge and enacted the My Brother's Keeper initiative into law. The budget included a $20 million investment in support of the initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. Learn more about New York State's My Brother's Keeper initiative.

The Challenge

The Regents, Blue Ribbon Committee, representative stakeholders, elected officials, parents, and students from around the state affirmed the need to change life circumstances and conditions of boys and young men of color.  VIDEO: My Brother's Keeper - The Challenge

students in classroom

Plan of Action

With the adoption of the 2016-2017 New York State Budget, the Board of Regents accepts the national MBK challenge. Hear testimony from students encouraging the Board to move forward with programs and strategies to help boys and young men of color realize their full potential.   VIDEO: My Brother's Keeper - Plan of Action

students walking down the hall in school
New York State Library Launches Summer Reading Program
Last week, the New York State Library, partnering with 1,100 main public libraries and neighborhood branches statewide, launched "Summer Reading at New York Libraries," the 2016 New York State summer reading program. The free, annual program gives children the opportunity to access the vast resources of New York's public libraries to support their summer reading.

Encourage your students to participate in a free summer reading program at their local library! Summer reading programs help students build reading skills and prevent summer learning loss. Hundreds of libraries across New York are offering free summer reading programs; find a participating library in your community here.

Community Schools Aid Guidance Document Now Available
students with teacher in classroom
Guidance is now available on a $100 million State Foundation Aid set-aside to fund Community Schools. The 2016-17 Enacted State Budget created a $100 million set-aside within Foundation Aid for Community Schools programs in 225 high-need school districts. Districts will use the new funding to provide students and their families with the support students need to ensure readiness to learn a rigorous curriculum; support connections between schools and community organizations that offer enrichment or social/health services; and encourage the use of school sites as community resources.
Learn more about the community schools guidance.

NYSED Releases Highest Ever Percentage of Grades 3-8 Test Questions
students with teacher
Late last month, the State Education Department released 75 percent of questions from the 2016 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests that count toward student scores. This is more questions than ever before, and the first time this information has been available this soon.

In addition, several instructional reports based on the 2016 tests were made available to districts and schools several weeks before the end of the school year.

Also new this year, educators and parents will be able to review their students' answers to constructed-response questions, giving them an even clearer picture of how well students are doing.