images of parents with their children
January 25, 2019
Dear Parents,

This week, the Assembly and Senate moved forward the Senator Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act and by doing so have clearly demonstrated that when the government works in harmony for just causes, great things are possible. With the passage of the DREAM Act, undocumented college students will be able to participate in the State's Tuition Assistance Program and other state financial assistance and awards, gain a college degree, and fulfill the promise of a bright future in New York State. The Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) remain committed to achieving equity across our education system, and the DREAM Act moves us closer to that goal. Read the full statement on the DREAM Act from Chancellor Rosa and me.

Achieving equity in education is our top priority. Through the state's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, we created a road map to ensure all students receive access to a high-quality education. State investments to implement equity initiatives are critical in realizing this mutual goal. Last week, Governor Cuomo provided details on his budget proposal. While the Governor's equity formula is no doubt well intended, it must be implemented in a manner that will focus on improving equity and supporting all students in our neediest school districts. An investment in education is fundamentally necessary for both the strength of our workforce and the future of New York's children.

However, we are extremely alarmed with the recommended funding level for New York State's schools. The proposed $338 million Foundation Aid increase falls far short of what schools need to achieve equity, or even keep pace with inflation and demographic changes. Read the entire statement from Chancellor Rosa and me on the Executive Budget Proposal.

In addition to emphasizing equity in education for New York's students, our state ESSA plan expands measures for school support and accountability and student success and requires school-level improvement plans for the lowest performing schools overall, as well as schools with the lowest performance for certain student populations.

Last week, NYSED announced district and school accountability determinations as required by ESSA. NYSED identified 106 school districts as Target Districts, 245 schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement and 125 schools for Targeted Support and Improvement. In addition, NYSED identified 26 schools to be newly placed into receivership and 37 schools to be removed from receivership at the end of the 2018-19 school year, including two schools scheduled to close. This will leave 43 schools in receivership at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

As I noted above, New York's ESSA plan is designed to improve equity in student outcomes by identifying the schools and districts that need additional support. With these new school accountability determinations, a community engagement process is started to develop and implement evidence-based strategies to increase student achievement in our neediest schools so all students in New York State have access to a high-quality education.

New York State undertook a substantial and comprehensive public engagement process to develop the school accountability indicators contained in the state's ESSA plan. To support these efforts, NYSED established an ESSA Think Tank with representatives from more than 100 organizations, including district leaders, teachers, parents, community members and students, and consulted with national education experts to determine accountability indicators for New York's public schools. 

For the first time this year, based on data for the 2017-18 school year, every district, public school and charter school earns a score of 1 to 4, where 1 is the lowest and 4 is the highest, for each ESSA accountability indicator.

Accountability indicators include:
  • student achievement in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies;
  • student growth in language arts and math;
  • 4-, 5-, and 6-year graduation rates;
  • student readiness for college, career, and participation in civic life;
  • acquisition of English proficiency by English language learners; and
  • chronic absenteeism.
Finally, NYSED recently proposed regulatory changes to increase information security measures to safeguard the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of students and certain school personnel. The proposed amendments outline requirements for educational agencies and their third-party contractors to ensure the security and privacy of such protected information and were developed in consultation with stakeholders and the public. A 60-day public comment period will be held on the regulations and will begin on or around January 30.

I appreciate your continued support, and I hope you encourage other parents to sign up for our parent email list to receive my biweekly letter.
MaryEllen Elia