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Keynote speaker calls for K-12 schools to focus on students as individual learners

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

Everyone in American public education knows that our students are always near the bottom of the list when compared to how students in Europe and Asia score on math, science and other tests.

According to education scholar Yong Zhao, here's what education leaders should do in response: forget about it.

There are more important things that America can excel at besides training kids to ace standardized tests, Zhao said.


Public schools need to be prepared for immigrants' needs, potential

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

Alex Kumi-Yeboah's son Salah was extremely quiet when he entered kindergarten. The school determined that he needed special education services. Not satisfied, Kumi-Yeboah pulled his child out of that school and sent him to another elementary school in the same public school district. An official from the new school called home one day and asked if it was all right to enroll Salah in its gifted and talented program.

An assistant professor in the University at Albany's School of Education, Kumi-Yeboah told that story during a one-hour presentation on "Understanding and Educating the Immigrant Child" at NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention & Education Expo in Lake Placid. It's a personal example of how schools can underestimate immigrant children.


Elia warmly received amid concern about future of teacher evalutions

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Next up, teacher evaluations.

In an address to NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention & Education Expo in Lake Placid, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia delivered a status report on new learning standards, test reforms and a new accountability plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The audience of school board members and administrators punctuated Elia's speech with applause more than a half-dozen times as she explained her priorities and promised to remain responsive to continuing feedback as the initiatives roll out in schools.


Delegates elect 2018 officers

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Barbara Bradley
Deputy Director of Online Communications and Project Planning

Delegates to NYSSBA's Annual Business Meeting elected a slate of officers to one-year terms for 2018.

William Miller of Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES was elected to his first term as president. Fred Langstaff of Eastern Suffolk BOCES was elected to his first term as 1st vice president. Peggy Zugibe of North Rockland was elected to her first term as 2nd vice president. Thomas Nespeca of Monroe 1 BOCES was elected to a fifth term as treasurer.


One in five youths has a mental disorder; schools need to learn to recognize the signs

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

The mental health of students is increasingly an issue that public school districts must deal with. But teachers and staff can help make a difference in identifying troubled students and getting them into therapy.

That was the message of Caroline Axelrod Mendel, a child psychologist who spoke during NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention & Education Expo in Lake Placid in one of several sessions on how school leaders and school personnel can help students with mental health issues. NYSSBA previously held a summit meeting on the topic in Albany during May.


When everyone's on Twitter and Facebook, it's harder to keep ed discussions factual

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

Remember the old adage about misinformation: "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth has the chance to put its boots on?"

In today's world of instantaneous communications, social media and fake news, a lie can spread much faster than that. That's why school board members and district administrators need to be prepared to deal with the onslaught of misinformation, fake news and instant outrage that is an unfortunate side-product of a digital world.


At law conference, Trump administration officials explain their approach to civil rights enforcement

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Eric D. Randall
Editor-in-Chief

The "gotcha" days of heavy-handed and "aggressive" civil rights enforcement by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) are over now that Donald Trump is president, according to current and former Trump administration officials who spoke at the 21st Annual Pre-Convention School Law Seminar.

That does not mean the Trump administration is less committed than the Obama administration to protecting the civil rights of students, said the head of OCR, Candice Jackson.


What ESSA means for school boards

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Barbara Bradley
Deputy Director of Online Communications and Project Planning

What's new with school accountability in New York State? "We're in the calm before the storm," according to Ira Schwartz, associate commissioner of the State Education Department (SED).

In September, SED submitted New York's plan to meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the U.S. Department of Education. SED is prepared to receive feedback and make adjustments in December. The goal is to have federal approval in January or February of 2018.


Rural schools find unique ways to capture students' imaginations

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Students in Delaware County's South Kortright school district raise trout, keep bees, cultivate grapes, hatch chicks and have begun dabbling in hydroponic gardening.

Some 200 verdant miles to the west in Ontario County, another rural district - Naples - has a project-based learning initiative that has led seventh graders to raise money for a local food pantry and try their hand at composting.

And in Essex County, the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School District is embracing intergovernmental collaborations that include merged sports teams, shared administrators and technical staff, and partnerships for lawn mowing and waste oil disposal.


Analytics every district can use

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

One of the eight characteristics of effective school boards identified by the National School Boards Association is data savviness. Effective boards embrace and monitor data and use them to drive continuous improvement.

A team of school leaders from the Queensbury Union Free School District in Warren County recommended how to do that at NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention & Education Expo in Lake Placid. Their session was called "Analytics You Can Use: Building a Data Driven Culture in Your District."

Queensbury began building a data-driven culture in 2010.


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