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'Generally positive' trend seen in grad rates

On Board Online • February 19, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

New York's four-year graduation rate continued a trend of gradual improvement in 2017, rising to 80.2 percent in time for June commencement ceremonies. The 2017 rate improved by nearly two more percentage points when students who received their diplomas in August are included.

The rates were calculated for 207,165 students who entered ninth grade in 2013. The June 2017 graduation rate was up half a percentage point from a year before, when the state posted a rate of 79.7 percent (after some data was corrected) for students who entered high school in 2012.

A funny thing happened on the way to rebooting state teacher evaluations

On Board Online • February 19, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Just minutes after Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia briefed the Regents on a survey that launches a comprehensive review of New York's teacher and principal evaluation system, leaders of the statewide teachers union said they won't encourage members to participate.

Leaders of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) say the state should simply scrap any statewide method for evaluating educators.

"We feel like teachers have made it really clear how they feel about the system," said Jolene DiBrango, executive vice president for NYSUT. "We feel we need to restore it to local control with no state mandates of any kind."

Three ways to connect the dots to support English language learners' performance

On Board Online • February 19, 2018

By Janet Ives Angelis & Kristen Campbell Wilcox

Why do the English language learners (ELLs) in some elementary schools beat the odds?

One reason is that their teachers and administrators effectively use data to monitor and support their performance, according to our study of six outstanding elementary schools.

Busting the myths of school policy

On Board Online • February 19, 2018

By Stephanie Combs
Associate Policy Consultant

When your board discusses school policy, do you ever hear things you consider "fake news"? It's out there. Many myths in the world of school policy have been brought to our attention. Here are just some of the misconceptions that have been recognized over the past year:

Myth #1:
Every policy needs an administrative regulation, and all regulations must be adopted by the board.

Elia: 'I am not interested in approving your budgets'

On Board Online • February 19, 2018

By David Kraus
Special Correspondent

Amid myriad potential financial headaches facing school board members this year, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says she would like to ease at least one.

"I want to go on record. I am not interested in approving your budgets," Elia told board members at NYSSBA's annual Capital Conference.

"I don't want to be in a position where I have to look at these budgets and say yes or no. That's your job. Just do it well, and we will all be happy."

The 'public policy exception' can be asset in contract negotiations, grievance disputes

On Board Online • February 19, 2018

By the New York State Association of School Attorneys

As school boards prepare for negotiations this spring, one question is sure to arise: "Why is this in the contract?" And the next question might be: "Can we take that out?"

Generally, the removal of important substantive provisions from a collective bargaining agreement is no easy task. The rules and precedents involved have been set by the Legislature, the courts, the commissioner of education and a quasi-judicial body called the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

School nutrition programs get higher profile as policies change in Albany, Washington

On Board Online • February 19, 2018

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

School food service operations in New York State are dealing with a lot of change at once, from both state and federal authorities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a five-point plan in January, including a demand that "lunch shaming" be eliminated.

And the Trump administration is loosening federal nutrition requirements.

Advocacy Update: Framework Adopted for 2018 and 2019 Federal Spending

February 12, 2018

Congressional leaders have finally reached a long-sought agreement on top-line spending that will pave the way to complete the FY 2018 federal appropriations and budget process. The bipartisan agreement establishes new spending levels for FY 2018 and 2019, and temporarily extends federal funding until March 23 to avoid an additional federal government shutdown. Congress must now put together a larger omnibus spending package that will spell out allocations of funds for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies through the remainder of the fiscal year.

Proposals would erode local control

On Board Online • February 5, 2018

By Julie Marlette
Director of Governmental Relations

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2018 executive budget includes two proposals that, if approved by the Legislature, would directly impact local school district budget practices.

"We see this as an attempt by state government to influence local decision-making and autonomy," said NYSSBA President William Miller. "The proposals are inconsistent with the long-standing concept of local control."

SED to give districts 4 years to improve opt-out rates

On Board Online • February 5, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The State Education Department (SED) plans to create a four-stage system for working with schools and districts with high test refusal rates to improve participation, according to SED Associate Commissioner Ira Schwartz.

The first stage will require a self-assessment from schools to determine why refusals are high and what steps can be taken to improve. The second stage will bump the process up to the district level for assistance in year two.

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