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We’re pleased to bring you the following recap of the September meeting of the NYSED Board of Regents meeting in Albany.

Assessment Discussion

The Regents began by discussing the recently released assessment scores for grades 3-8 in ELA and Math. Specifically:

  • Statewide, combined performance for students grades 3-8 increased by +0.2% in ELA (up to 45.4% proficient) and increased by +2.2% in Math (from 44.5% to 46.7% proficient).
  • For charter schools, performance remained at 54% proficient in ELA, while Math performance increased by +3.1% (up from 55.8% to 58.9% proficient).
  • The Regents discussed the assessment itself, the language used on it, and whether assessment scores accurately reflect student growth and achievement.
  • The Regents also discussed the correlation between grade level and performance. ELA and Math proficiency is higher in 3rd and 4th grade but declines in grades 5 and 6.
  • Performance is reported for students with disabilities, but the Regents noted that it would be helpful to have a breakdown of what kinds of disabilities students have and if there is a correlation between the test medium (i.e. computer administered tests vs traditional paper tests) and the students’ performance.
  • The Regents discussed the scoring methods used by schools, and specifically discussed whether it is necessary to look into different scoring methods used by charter schools as opposed to district schools.

Educational Facilities Amendments

The Regents discussed but did not vote on amendments to regulations concerning education facilities, which are required following changes to the 2019 enacted budget.

  • 409-d, concerning Comprehensive public school building safety program
  • Was: Annual visual inspections
  • Now: Visual inspections in 2020 and 2022
  • After 2022: only as deemed necessary by commissioner to maintain safety of building and welfare of occupants
  • 3641, concerning Special apportionments and grants in-aid to school districts
  • Was: Building Condition Survey (BCS) every five years by all public school districts and BOCES
  • Now: Staggered implementation of BCS (⅕ of school districts and BOCES perform each year)
  • The methodology for implementing staggered Building Condition Surveys was described as such:
    • Districts were grouped based on the Labor Market Region in which they are located (Capital Region, Valley, Long Island, Mohawk Valley, North Country, etc.)
    • Each BCS year includes a group from every Labor Market Region
    • Data from the 2015 Building Condition Survey was used to determine buildings identified as “Poor” or “Unsatisfactory”
    • Groups with the highest number of buildings identified as “Poor” or “Unsatisfactory” are assigned to a BCS cohort Year 1 and 2 within each Labor Market Region

Extended Eligibility of Unified Sports Programs

The discussion turned to the topic of “unified sports,” which brings students with disabilities and students without disabilities together to compete alongside one another in athletics.

The policy under review concerns Sections 135.1 and 135.4 of the Commissioner’s Regulations and applies to students grades 9 through 12.

  • Currently 217 schools statewide have fielded unified sports teams, impacting nearly 150,000 young athletes.
  • It was first noted that the underlying spirit of Commissioner’s regulations governing interscholastic athletics is to “provide for the safety and equal opportunity for participation for public school students.”
  • The proposed amendment provides an extension of eligibility for students to play on such teams:
  • Currently students are limited to 4 years of eligibility and must stop at the age of 19— however, many students with disabilities remain in school until the age of 21
  • The amended language would allow such students aged 19 or older to continue to participate in these athletic programs, provided that:
    • the student is a bona fide student of the high school and has not graduated
    • the student is otherwise qualified to compete in the inclusive athletic activity
    • the student has undergone a physical evaluation by the director of school health services, who has determined that the student’s participation will not present a safety or health concern

It was also noted that the term “unified sports” is a trademarked name, so the proposed amendment would re-categorize this program as “inclusive athletic activities”

This proposed regulatory change was only discussed and not voted on. It is anticipated that the proposed rule will be presented to the Board of Regents for permanent adoption at its January 2020 meeting.

Policy Priorities for the Year

As we reported in the July Board of Regents meeting recap, the Regents had previously made a determination to identify a number of policy priorities for the coming year. Their top eight policy priorities were revealed in this meeting— the first three rank as their top priorities:

  • High school diploma and graduation requirements
  • Early childhood and Early Learning
  • Grades 3-12 Exit Measures
  • Culturally responsive Education Framework
  • Standards and Curricular Content
  • Teacher Diversity (required under 2018-2019 legislation and in partnership with higher education)
  • Holistic Development of young people
  • Improving Education Programs or Students involved with the justice system

We look forward to reporting on the Regents’ progress on these priorities, and many other items, in the months ahead.