New York State School Boards Association
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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.

When Equifax is getting hacked, how can districts keep data secure?

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Jeffrey S. Handelman
Deputy Director of Administration

Is your district's student data secure? Are you sure? In a world where technology is changing quickly, there is not enough money or time in any district to remove all possibility of a data breach, attendees at a workshop on Data Privacy and Security Service learned. When even a company as large and seemingly impregnable as Equifax is vulnerable to hackers, school districts need to do all they can to minimize risks.

That means having the personnel and policies in place to ensure that personally identifiable data on students, teachers and principals is kept secure and private.

Digital conversion

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Eric D. Randall

"If you make me do this, I'm gonna retire."

That is the reaction you'll get from some teachers if you ask them to change their teaching to incorporate educational apps and other internet-based teaching strategies, according to Joseph Sutorius, chief information officer for the East Irondequoit Central School District.

That's why implementation of a 1:1 learning program (in which every student gets an internet-ready device) has to be viewed as a cultural shift and carefully rolled out, Sutorius said.

Districts take anthem protests in stride

On Board Online • October 9, 2017

By Eric D. Randall

As taking-a-knee protests during the national anthem spread to high school football games in New York this fall, school attorneys have been advising school districts that they are a form of constitutionally protected free speech.

While Catholic schools have warned players they could face disciplinary action if they kneel during the anthem before sporting events, public school leaders praised peaceful forms of protest by students.

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."

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