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Grading the Regents

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

At its September meeting, the state Board of Regents acted on three major policy initiatives: adoption of a state compliance plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), new learning standards, and revised teacher certification standards.

The first two items are good news. The third - tinkering with teacher certification - is an annual tradition that I find puzzling and disturbing. Here is a rundown:

Closure of nuclear power plant imperils finances of school district

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By Eric D. Randall

In January, the Entergy power company announced that by 2021 it would close both reactors at the Indian Point nuclear facility in Westchester County. Many cheered the news, because Indian Point's Unit 2 has been ranked last in safety among the nation's 104 reactors for years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and environmental groups had urged the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission not to renew Indian Point's license to operate, in part, due to fears of a nuclear accident at the plant, which is located just 25 miles north of Manhattan.

Best practices in assessment of school mental health programs

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By Gayle Simidian
Research Analyst

Millions of American children live with depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome and other mental health issues, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC listed the most common mental health diagnoses in a 2013 report:

  • ADHD (6.8 percent of all children ages 3 to 17).
  • Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5 percent).
  • Anxiety (3.0 percent).
  • Depression (2.1 percent).
  • Autism spectrum disorder (1.1 percent).

After flaws are found on Geometry Regents, SED plans for better vetting of math questions

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

State education officials plan to beef up the process for vetting Regents exam questions after complaints propelled them to retroactively award credit for three flawed questions on the June Geometry Regents, regardless of how students answered them.

"We are improving on our process by putting in another layer of review," Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said at a September conference of the New York State Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) in Saratoga Springs in September. "We are adding a layer of people to re-examine every question."

Schools target homeless students for extra help, attention

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By Merri Rosenberg
Special Correspondent

In the book "Those Shoes" by Maribeth Boelts, a boy named Jeremy wants the sneakers everyone else in school is wearing. After an ill-fitting thrift store pair produces sore feet, he comes to appreciate other things - warm boots, the love of his grandmother and the chance to help a friend.

Elizabeth Russell, instructional reading specialist with Orange Ulster BOCES, uses the story in lunchtime book clubs at various elementary schools. There is more to her agenda than improving literacy skills.

'Reasonable suspicion' must precede cellphone search

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By the New York State Association of School Attorneys

In November 2015, administrators in a Suffolk County school district became aware that a video was circulating among 10th-grade students that showed sexual conduct between two 14-year-olds, one of whom was a student in the district. They confiscated the cellphones of several students, interviewed dozens of students and got the police involved. By the time the investigation was concluded, 28 students had been suspended.

Such incidents raise questions that can arise in any school: Under what conditions is it lawful for a school official to (a) confiscate and (b) search a student's cellphone?

Answering complaint about bus stop, commissioner points out parents' duty

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By Jay Worona
Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel

Parents who disagree with their school district's designation of bus stops are free to bring appeals to the commissioner of education, who must decide whether the school district's transportation determination was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable or an abuse of discretion.

In Appeal of E.F., a father complained his two children had to cross a "heavily traveled" road without a crosswalk to reach a bus stop. The commissioner dismissed the appeal on technical grounds but added, "It is the responsibility of the parent, not the district, to see that the child safely reaches the pick-up point."

When student coifs become a big, hairy deal

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By Jessica Goldstein
Deputy Director of Policy Services

Over the last several years, you may have seen some well-publicized incidents in which 10 schools - public, charter and private - have subjected students to school discipline because of their hairstyles. Questions of discrimination have arisen because the styles involved are those favored by some African-American girls - Afros, box braids, natural texture, dreadlocks, twists and hair extensions.

According to news reports, charter schools and private schools have found these hair styles to violate dress codes by being "distracting," "faddish," "extreme," "untidy" or "uncontrolled."

Regents approve ESSA accountability plan

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The Board of Regents approved the state's plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) at their September meeting, capping nearly a year of work and completing one last necessary step before the plan is submitted on Sept. 18 for consideration by the U.S. Department of Education.

The final version of the proposed plan, which would replace an accountability system adopted under the federal No Child Left Behind education law, is unchanged from an update that was approved by the Board of Regents in July and sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his required review, according to state education officials.

Next Generation standards approved

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The Board of Regents approved a revised set of math and English language arts learning standards for New York students at their September meeting, officially launching a transition from the controversial Common Core standards to a new version to be known as Next Generation standards.

The transition period calls for full implementation of the new standards in the 2020-21 school year. Until then, state tests will continue to be based on the current standards, and professional development will unfold to help teachers develop curriculum and teaching strategies based on the Next Generation standards.

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