images of parents with their children
February 14, 2020
Dear Parents,

Regional Meetings to Review Graduation Measures
As part of our review of New York State graduation measures, the Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) recently announced additional regional information meetings across the state. The dozens of meetings will offer opportunities for parents, educators, stakeholders, and members of the public to share input on what a state diploma should signify to ensure educational excellence and equity for every student in New York State.

As parents, your feedback, opinions, and input are extremely valuable to us. You know your children best, and we want to make sure our students are engaged in school and prepared for the 21st century. That means asking ourselves how we can best provide avenues for students to demonstrate they're ready to graduate with a meaningful diploma. With more opportunities for students to focus on what interests them, they will be more engaged in school and better positioned in life.

I hope you will consider attending a Regional Meeting in your area. If you cannot attend a meeting but would like to provide feedback, there is an online survey of our five guiding questions on our Graduation Measures website.

The schedule of regional meetings is available on our dedicated Graduation Measures website. Dates are being added and modified, so please check back regularly for the latest information.

Every February, the nation celebrates Black History Month by recognizing the innumerable contributions that African Americans have made to our country. The Board of Regents and NYSED are commemorating Black History Month in several ways, including through reflections by members of the Board of Regents at the February 2020 Regents meeting. This week's February 2020 meeting was streamed live and is available to be viewed on the Board of Regents website. Beginning this week, President Abraham Lincoln's handwritten draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is on exhibit at the New York State Museum. This exhibition, which is open through March 1, 2020, offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about this groundbreaking document that changed the fate of the nation. The exhibition is dedicated in honor of the late Regent Judith Johnson. In addition, the Museum's Office of State History is compiling a listing of Black History Month events taking place at cultural education organizations across the state. We are also highlighting our My Brother's Keeper (MBK) initiative throughout the month on social media with the hashtag #MyHistoryMyFuture.

Also at this week's Board of Regents meeting, NYSED provided an update on its review of public comment on proposed regulations for substantially equivalent instruction for nonpublic school students in New York State. In June, NYSED presented proposed regulations relating to the substantial equivalency requirement to the Board of Regents which were published in the State Register and presented for public comment. From July 3, 2019 to September 3, 2019, NYSED received over 140,000 comments on the proposed regulations. NYSED staff have been working to review and assess these extensive comments in the months since.

NYSED appreciates the thoughtful feedback received on the proposed regulations related to substantial equivalency. We will continue to review the comments, and based on the breadth of comments received and the varying views expressed, we will re-engage stakeholders for further discussion on this important issue.

NYSED also announced this week that the New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) program saw significant growth over the last four years, including an increase in the number of schools offering the Seal and the number of students earning it.

The NYSSB Report identifies future goals for growth and strategies to achieve these goals. It also provides information on how the NYSSB compares to other such programs across the country.

The goals of the NYSSB fit perfectly with the state's Every Student Succeeds Act plan, which ensures that all New York State students graduate from high school ready for college, career, and civic life. Bilingualism gives students a solid foundation for future studies and success in college and makes them better able to adapt to our diverse and ever-changing global economy. Every student is entitled to the jump-start a Seal of Biliteracy can offer in both college and career, and we must continue to expand this program to schools across New York. Learn more about the growth of the NYSSB program and NYSED's goals for the future expansion of the program.

Finally, as I mentioned in my last letter, if you will be in or near the Capital Region during your children's upcoming winter break, I encourage you to consider visiting the New York State Museum. The Museum will host two geology and paleontology-themed programs: The Rock and Fossil Fun Fair on February 15 and 16 and the Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show and Sale on February 22 and 23. Learn more about these events and other School Vacation Week activities on the Museum's website.

As always, thank you for reading and for your continued involvement in your children's education.


Shannon Tahoe
Interim Commissioner