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News and Notes
Dear Colleagues,

I hope you and your school communities have successfully recovered from the winter storms that recently came through our state. At this point, I'm sure we are all looking forward to spring!

In this edition of News and Notes, I provide updates related to the following:
As always, thank you for all you do for the students of New York State.


MaryEllen Elia
dasaChancellor Rosa and Commissioner Elia's Statement on President Trump's Proposed Spending Plan

President Trump's proposed drastic cut to the U.S. Department of Education's budget is an irresponsible disregard for vital education programs and would be devastating to New York's children.  The very programs he proposes to cut play a critical role in fostering equity and eliminating the education gap that exists across our nation. Further, eliminating federal funding for library, art, humanities and public broadcasting programs would decimate essential community centers and non-profit organizations.

The State Education Department receives $3.6 billion in federal funding each year, the vast majority of which is passed on to local school districts. Such substantial, wholesale cuts imperil important local programs. Eliminating widespread funding for after-school programs, community learning centers, teacher preparation, work study and cultural programs is a disservice to New York's children.

As the state's education leaders, we will work with our federal representatives to fight for the funding we need to support our students so they can succeed in life. We encourage all our educational partners to be strong advocates for New York's kids, and students nationally, and tell Washington, these cuts to vital educational programs are not acceptable.

dasaNYSED Awards $6 Million in My Brother's Keeper Grants for Family and Community Engagement Program
student in backpack sitting on steps
Last week, NYSED announced that it awarded more than $6 million in grants to 42 school districts for the My Brother's Keeper Family and Community Engagement Program. These grants will support programs to increase the academic achievement and college and career readiness of boys and young men of color while fostering the development of effective relationships with families to promote the success of all students. More information is available in our news release about the My Brother's Keeper grants.
dasaDignity for All Students Act (DASA)
blurred picture of high school students walking in hallway
Last month, Commissioner Elia and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman  issued a reminder that New York State protects transgender students. Apart from existing federal law, New York State's Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) requires all school districts in New York to prohibit discrimination and harassment. The following guidance is available to school districts:
Also, in light of recent federal immigration-related actions that have created fear and confusion in New York and across the country, Commissioner Elia and Attorney General Schneiderman reminded school districts of their  duty to uphold the rights of immigrant students and safeguard student data. Our immigrant students have a right to a free education and they must not fear retribution for themselves or family members simply because they attend school. It is imperative that we protect all students as well as the information we have about them to the fullest extent possible under the law.
alstRegents Act to Amend State's Teacher Certification Requirements
teacher in classroom with young students working with blocks
Last week, the Board of Regents took steps to improve the process to obtain an initial teaching certificate in New York. The changes are based on recommendations of a Task Force of education experts and public input, and maintain the state's rigorous standards to ensure that candidates for certification are well-prepared to teach.

As a result of recommendations from the Task Force and public input, the Board of Regents adopted regulations to eliminate the requirement that teacher candidates take and pass the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) to obtain an initial teaching certificate. There is no doubt that literacy is a very important skill for all our teachers to have. However, we resoundingly heard from the edTPA Task Force and the public that the ALST is a flawed exam with many questions seemingly having more than one correct answer. Further, a disproportionate number of minority teaching candidates did not pass.
NYSED will incorporate a literacy skills component in the existing Educating All Students (EAS) exam. The Board of Regents also approved advancing proposed regulations to implement changes to the edTPA assessment.
Even with the change, New York's teacher certification requirements will remain some of the most rigorous in the country, requiring the vast majority of teaching candidates to pass three assessments before earning certification.

More information is available in our news release about teacher certification requirements.

essaNYSED Seeking Input for Determining School Accountability Under ESSA
students sitting at classroom desks with teacher standing in the front
NYSED is conducting a survey to gather public comment on potential Indicators of School Quality and Student Success for inclusion in the State system for determining school accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The ESSA survey is available hereTranslated surveys in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic are also available. NYSED is accepting responses to the survey through today, March 20.

More information is available in our news release about ESSA.

NYSED is providing an additional opportunity for stakeholder and public input at a series of winter regional open meetings this month. Individuals who wish to attend these meetings can find information about the dates, times, locations, and other pertinent details on our ESSA website.
libraryNYSED Proposes Public Library Construction Aid Regulation Changes
bookshelves inside library
Last week, NYSED announced proposed amendments to the State Aid for Library Construction regulations that expand and further define the types of public library construction projects that are eligible to receive State aid. The proposed amendments align the Commissioner's regulations with recent statutory changes the State Legislature made to Education Law ยง273-a.  A 45-day public comment period on the proposed amendments begins April 12.  More information is available in our news release about public library construction aid .
eestwNYSED Announces 2017 Essential Elements: Schools to Watch
teacher conducting a science lab with middle school students
Earlier this month, NYSED designated five schools as 2017 Essential Elements: Schools to Watch (EE:STW). The designation is awarded to exceptional middle grade schools that meet a rigorous set of criteria and are on a path of continuous improvement.

Two schools earned the designation for the first time in 2017, two schools are earning a designation for the third time, and one school is being recognized for a fourth time.
  • Ada M. Cosgrove Middle School, Spencerport (Newly Identified)
  • Memorial Junior High School, Valley Stream (Newly Identified)
  • Garden City Middle School, Garden City (3rd Designation)
  • Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School, Port Washington (3rd Designation)
  • Pioneer Middle School, Yorkshire (4th Designation)
For more on the program, please see our news release about the 2017 Essential Elements: Schools to Watch.