images of parents with their children
January 24, 2020
Dear Parents,

Regional Meetings to Review Graduation Measures
The Board of Regents and New York State Education Department (NYSED) are kicking off 2020 with a series of regional meetings to discuss the review of New York State's graduation measures. Last week, NYSED announced dates and times for the first regional meetings being hosted across the state to gather feedback on what a state diploma should signify to ensure educational excellence and equity for every student in New York State. The meetings are an integral part of Phase I in the Board and Department's review of graduation measures and will offer opportunities for stakeholders and members of the public to share input.

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. 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.

We are undertaking the exciting initiative of reviewing New York's graduation measures with a timeline that ensures a thoughtful and deliberative process that fosters a statewide dialogue about how we can best provide avenues for students to demonstrate they're ready to graduate with a meaningful diploma. I thank Chancellor Rosa and the Regents for their leadership in these regional meetings and throughout this important and essential conversation.

Last week, NYSED also released graduation rates for the 2015 cohort, those students who first entered ninth grade in New York's public schools in 2015. The overall August graduation rate increased slightly to 83.4 percent, up 0.8 percentage points from 82.6 percent for the 2014 cohort. The 2015 cohort graduation rate is 7.3 percentage points higher than it was a decade earlier, when the 2006 cohort graduation rate was 76.1 percent.

August Graduation Rates

This year's graduation rate improved for black and Hispanic students, for students with disabilities, and for both current and "Ever" English language learners (ELLs). Each of the Big 5 City School Districts saw gains, and all but Buffalo had growth in their graduation rates that exceeded statewide growth. The State's charter schools experienced an increase of nearly three percentage points as compared with last year. The gap in graduation rates between black and Hispanic students and their white peers narrowed again this year.

While the continued upward trend in New York's graduation rate is encouraging, there remains work to be done. NYSED and the Board of Regents are committed to supporting districts as they work to prepare our students for the next phase of their lives, whether that is college, career, or civic engagement. We will build on our progress by further addressing achievement gaps to keep our students moving in the right direction.

For more specific data points and for school- and district-level graduation data, visit NYSED's public data website. A PowerPoint presentation with additional data is also available.

The Board of the Regents also last week acted to conditionally approve New York State's first ever Learning Standards for Computer Science and Digital Fluency. NYSED conducted a collaborative process over a fifteen-month period that included a group of statewide experts on computer science and educational technology to assist in creating computer science and digital fluency standards that best meet the needs of students across New York State. The conditional approval will allow additional time for NYSED to engage with early learning experts to ensure the K-2 standards are developmentally appropriate. The standards will be returned to the Board later this year for final adoption.

When we expose New York's students to the exciting world of computer science and technology early in their school careers, we are encouraging and enabling more of our students to engage in a career path where they can not only compete, but they can flourish. Throughout the collaborative process of establishing these standards, we listened to valuable input from stakeholders, and we will continue to work with our partners across the state as the standards are implemented to ensure they are working for all students.

For additional information on the new standards, please see the Department's Computer Science and Digital Fluency website.

As I mentioned in my last letter, investments in the implementation of education initiatives are critical for achieving educational equity. This week, Governor Cuomo advanced the 2021 Executive Budget proposal, and we commend the Governor's commitment to expanding Pre-Kindergarten programs, Community Schools, STEM programs, Opportunity Programs, and public after school care. We also look forward to reviewing the details of the Executive Budget and the proposed changes to the Foundation Aid formula. While we agree that additional funding for high-need districts should be a priority, we need to ensure all districts have adequate resources to provide every child in New York State with a high-quality education. Read the entire statement from Chancellor Rosa and me on the Governor's Executive Budget proposal.

Finally, 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 in February: 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.

Thank you for your continued partnership and dedication to your children's education.


Shannon Tahoe
Interim Commissioner