The July meeting of the Board of Regents provided an opportunity for members to review initiatives undertaken over the course of the year with corresponding updates on each of the items. The primary document used to guide the discussion can be found at:
College, Career, and Civic Readiness
The first item to be discussed was the new College, and Civic Readiness performance indicator included in the NYS ESSA State Plan. The primary focus was to begin discussions on criteria that could be to assess successful achievement on this indicator. Some options discussed included capstone projects, portfolios, civic engagement, and service learning. The Board is quite interested in opinions from the field and will be setting up a task force to gain input from the field.
The discussion around the table raised concern about equity of access to programs across the state and the capacity of some districts to provide such options. The members of the Board expressed strong interest in ensuring that these options are also applied to charter and private schools.
Student Placement Information System
Another topic focused on the development of a Student Placement Information System for students with disabilities. Of great concern was the challenge of not having real-time data on available placements and resources in regard to preschool and school-age settings for students with disabilities. According to staff presenting this item, SED relies on information from the field regarding challenges in locating programs for students needing services. The creation of a database will allow SED to be more effective in targeting resources.
The discussion around the table included an acknowledgment that a database was needed, but until the database is in place, school districts are still finding it very difficult to secure needed placements. This led to a further discussion on the complexity of systems involved with providing programs and services.
A link to the item can be found at: https://bit.ly/2O5fD7o.
Three other items on the agenda provided information on the impact of initiatives that have provided students and prospective teachers with increased flexibility for graduation and preservice education. A prevailing theme throughout this past school year was the Board’s actions to provide increased flexibility in regard to certification and graduation pathways. Several initiatives such as the Superintendents Determination for a Local Diploma for students with disabilities, CDOS, High School Equivalency (HSE) diplomas, and transitional certifications, were highlighted for the Board updates. The Superintendents Determination of a Local Diploma was awarded to approximately 159 students thus far – not all reporting has been made. To date, over 1,900 applicants for an HSE diploma have been made.
Discussion around the table focused on the need to expand options leading to certification for teaching assistants and paraprofessionals. Staff described a current RFP whereby teaching assistants, under the supervision of the lead teacher, could have the time working in the classroom count towards student teaching.
A discussion regarding ESSA was abbreviated due to time constraints, but the District Superintendent for the Madison-Oneida BOCES presented on a resource developed for their districts. The resource provides a very clear and concise understanding of the main tenets of ESSA and implementation implications for districts. The link to this resource is available at: https://bit.ly/2uzz800.
The next meeting of the Board of Regents is in September at which time we will all be kicking off a new school year. Have a good rest of the summer. Please feel free to contact Cindy Gallagher (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information or questions.