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State education leaders visit Buffalo to address critical education issues

FOR RELEASE: October 17, 2016

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and nearly 2000 school board members will be in Buffalo next week to address such topics as educational inequities, bullying, drug abuse and other issues facing New York’s schools.

The discussions will take place at the New York State School Boards Association’s Convention on October 27 to 29 at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center.

Educators praise draft standards but see room for improvement

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

New York educators who are digging into drafts of the state's proposed new math and English language arts learning standards say they are zeroing in on some places where they expect to recommend more changes or clarification.

Several local school leaders told On Board that they are optimistic that the final version of new state standards will receive a far warmer reception than the Common Core standards did. They praised the State Education Department (SED) for creating a deliberative and inclusive process and the review committees on math and English language arts that proposed the draft standards.

Regents eye new format for school violence reports

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Beginning in the next school year, New York's school districts could have a streamlined system for reporting violent incidents in school.

Education leaders who have been working to develop the new process say it would place a sharper focus on truly dangerous conditions in need of urgent attention and provide information that can help schools find ways to prevent minor issues from growing into major ones.

Learning standards, version 2.0

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

Susan Bergtraum
NYSSBA President

It's no secret that the Common Core Learning Standards have been a lightning rod, both here in New York State and across the country. Some of the states that have adopted Common Core (including New York) are revisiting the standards in light of controversy over their age-appropriateness, suitability for English language learners and students in special education, their role in the construction of state standardized tests and, potentially, in the evaluation of teachers.

Part of the problem was the process used to adopt the standards and the swiftness of their application. Many education stakeholders, including parents, teachers, school board members, and superintendents, expressed concern - in some cases, even outrage - over being excluded from the adoption process.

9 'persistently struggling' schools improve enough to avoid external management

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has determined that nine of the remaining 10 schools on the state's "persistently struggling" list made demonstrable improvement during the last school year.

The determination means the schools' improvement efforts will continue under local supervision by their superintendents or educational partners for another year, and the districts will not need to find outside, independent receivers.

Striking the right balance

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

Betty Rosa
Regents Chancellor

There are so many critical issues facing both the state and your local school districts as we work together to lift up all of our students. Standards, assessments, evaluations, teacher and leader training and development, state aid, health and safety, implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and receivership - these are just a few of the many challenging issues before us.

It's no secret that the rapid implementation of New York's education reforms caused a great deal of disruption and resentment among educators and the public. Simply put, the system could not absorb the changes that were thrust - all at once - upon them.

Solving attendance problems means solving social problems

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

By Mary Williams-Noi
Policy Consultant

A wide range of circumstances can contribute to chronic absenteeism. A given student who's been absent a lot may be dealing with poverty, hunger, homelessness, mental illness or high levels of stress. Also, negative attitudes among family members regarding education can be associated with frequent absences from school.

Sometimes the problems are directly within the purview of schools - such as a student who is avoiding a bully.

Sometimes there are issues where the solution may be off school premises, such as a student having no safe route from home to school.

Chronic absenteeism seen as 'crisis'

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

By Mary Williams-Noi
Policy Consultant

The federal government has identified a new crisis in public education: chronic absenteeism.

In its first report on the subject, the U.S. Department of Education recently released an estimate that in the 2013-14 school year, 13 percent of the student population - 1 in 8 students - were chronically absent. The department called this a "hidden educational crisis."

Definitions of chronically absent vary. In New York, the State Education Department (SED) defines chronic absenteeism as missing 10 percent of school days - or 18 days or more per year in a 180-day school year. That's about two days per month.

Adding public speaking to the student skill set

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

By Merri Rosenberg
Special Correspondent

Taylor Farino, a senior in the Highland school district in Ulster County, dreaded getting up in front of a group and talking.

So when she had the chance to take an elective, Presentational Speaking, last year, she was ready to sign up. "I wanted to take the class because I've never been a good public speaker," Farino admitted.

She said she struggled with the first few assignments, but "by the fourth speech, everything was fluent," she said. "I felt better, more comfortable speaking. I wasn't as scared."

Three school districts exemplify how to 'Be the Change'

On Board Online • October 17, 2016

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

At Freeport Public Schools on Long Island, all students are learning about nanotechnology - even kindergartners.

Down the road in the Hewlett-Woodmere school district, elementary and middle school students are focused on the environment. The district has resurrected a long-ignored greenhouse and now uses it to teach hydroponics and composting. In this new garden space, students conduct science experiments, grow crops like Native Americans and learn math by calculating plant germination.

And at Byron-Bergen school district west of Rochester, elementary students have been known to use their lunch breaks to work on projects in a new Inquiry-Based Learning Lab. Students create their own video games, design wind power blades and build their own roller coasters.

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