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Districts wary of cyberattacks

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Michael Goot
Special Correspondent

During the last school year, employees in the Averill Park Central School District received an email requesting they update some personal information by following a link and logging into their district account. It came from the district's human resources department.

However, the district does not have a department by that name.

The email was a security test by the Center for Internet Security provided through the Questar III BOCES, according to district network engineer Lynn Burdick.

Audits shine light on P.E. programs

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Pauline Liu
Special Correspondent

On an unseasonably warm September day, a line of second graders runs across a grassy school yard in the South Colonie Central School District. There are flashes of orange; They are all carrying palm-sized, neon-colored pedometers with LCD displays to track their every step.

"They're cool," one girl says.

Physical education teacher Mike Palmer gives the 6- and 7-year-olds pointers on form, showing them how to bend their knees and lift their feet.

We can't have another 'Lost Generation'

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

William Miller
NYSSBA President

What comes to mind when you think of "Generation Z," the age group that comprises today's middle and high school students?

I think of the social media generation, glued to their smartphones. I'm told that they do their homework wearing headphones. They are often interrupted by devices that ding - Snapchat notifications, text messages and FaceTime requests from friends. They don't use their smartphones to make calls as much as to send text messages and upload photos to Instagram.

The world view of Gen Z is more likely to be shaped by celebrities and social media influencers than traditional news outlets. Ask them if we live in a racist and sexist society, and they probably will say yes.


More students take state tests, and fewer refuse to do so

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff and Paul Heiser
Staff Writers

State test refusals among New York students in grades 3-8 declined slightly this year.

Math and English language arts (ELA) test refusals declined, overall, to 18 percent during the spring 2018 testing period, down from 19 percent last year and 21 percent the year before, state education officials said.

44+% deemed proficient in ELA, math - but don't compare that to last year

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

In grades 3-8, 45.2 percent of students who took state tests in the spring of 2018 scored high enough to be deemed proficient in English language arts and 44.5 percent were proficient in math.

But changes in test format make it impossible to say how those proficiency rates compare to prior years, according to state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

This year, the testing period for each exam shrank from three days to two. The State Education Department trimmed the number of questions on each test and set new standards for each scoring level.

A new era of financial reporting has begun

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

New York school districts are entering a new era of mandated financial reporting, thanks to the introduction of two separate systems requiring them to calculate their spending for each individual school building.

The first set of reports, required by state budget legislation, is being phased in for all school districts over several years. A second set of building-level reports on spending in this school year, required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will be due in December 2019.

The state initiative, which originated with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, required 76 school districts to file reports with the Budget Division by Aug. 31.

Three NYSSBA evaluation tools now available on

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Eric D. Randall

Three evaluation tools created by NYSSBA are now available in a web-based format.

On , school board members and superintendents can use:

  • NYSSBA's Board Self-Evaluation Tool.
  • NYSSBA's Superintendent Evaluation Tool.
  • NYSSBA's BOCES Superintendent Evaluation Tool.

In two-thirds of YouTube videos on education, public schools are portrayed unfavorably

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Gayle Simidian
Research Analyst

If your only source of information on public education was YouTube, what would be your impressions?

Burhanettin Keskin, an associate professor of early childhood education at the University of Mississippi, decided to examine that question by typing the words "public education" into the YouTube search bar and then analyzing the first 60 videos listed.

Coders independently rated each video and found 67.8 percent portraying public education in a "negative fashion," according to "What Do YouTube Videos Say About Public Education," an article published by SAGE Publishing.

Commissioner admonishes school board for silence on parent's DASA appeal

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Kimberly A. Fanniff
Senior Staff Counsel

In May 2017, a male high school student sent text messages during class to another male student describing, among other things, his desire to have sex with two female students on a deserted island - provided their vocal cords were surgically removed. The recipient shared the contents of the text exchange with one of the female students.

When district officials learned of the incident, an investigation determined that the texter had not violated the state's anti-bullying law, the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).

In Appeal of J.S., the father of the female student challenged that determination.

Using nature as classroom, Cuba-Rushford gives students wide array of study projects

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

At a time of year when back-to-school means back-to-a-classroom in most school districts, middle and high school science students in the Cuba-Rushford Central School District are heading back to the great outdoors.

They are busy weighing and measuring live fish from local ponds, and they are mounting remote cameras in a wildlife management area they call "Deerasic Park." (They will monitor the "rut" season, when frisky white-tailed deer start angling for mates.)

Students also are collecting milkweed pods and will analyze which varieties of the plant will do the most to bolster America's declining monarch butterfly population. The district is home to a nationally certified monarch habitat.

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