List of principles

How will new federal education law impact New York state? The state offers 36 ideas

PHOTO: Monica Disare
The New York state Board of Regents.

New York’s definition of what makes an effective school is starting to come into focus.

Under the country’s new federal education law — the Every Student Succeeds Act — states have more flexibility when it comes to deciding which schools are performing well and which need a boost.

On Monday, the state inched towards an accountability framework by releasing a list of 36 “high-level concepts,” which provide slightly more clarity on which tests, subgroups of students, and graduation requirements the state could prioritize under the new law.

“New York state must create a responsive accountability plan that reflects the many issues that impact our schools and communities, and we must use a broader scope of indicators to measure our schools,” said Chancellor Betty Rosa.

To kick off the state’s implementation of the new law, officials released 20 guiding principles this July, which served as a set of broad possible goals, such as the principle that schools should encourage advanced coursework or provide multiple graduation pathways.

The concepts unveiled Monday offer a slightly more concrete picture. For instance, in order to incentivize schools to offer more advanced coursework and push students beyond proficiency, officials would allow middle schools to offer Regents exams in lieu of seventh- or eighth-grade math exams and give all schools extra credit if students score at an advanced level on standardized tests.

These measures are still drafts and will go out for several rounds of public comment. State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said New York will likely try to submit a formal accountability framework by July.

Still, in their current form, they read a bit like a wish list to Regent Judith Chin, who wondered whether there is enough funding to make them a reality for schools.

“We might be creating more unfunded mandates that the schools cannot absorb,” Chin said.

Here are some of the key ideas, which can be found in full here.

Academic proficiency: The state is still focused on whether students are academically proficient, suggesting that under this new accountability framework, they will give “full credit” to schools when students are scoring at the proficient level on state exams. But they also want to create a “partial credit” category for schools when students score just below the proficiency level.

Subgroups of students: Many of the principles relate to how the state will support subgroups of traditionally needy students, such as English Language Learners and students with disabilities. In addition, the state wants schools to strengthen early intervention strategies for groups such as homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, and those in foster care.

Teacher support: A set of concepts dives into supporting “excellent educators,” including creating a mentoring requirement for first-year teachers.

taking a stand

Colorado education leaders sign petition asking Washington officials to protect undocumented youth

PHOTO: J. Zubrzycki
DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg reads with a student at an event called Power Lunch.

Superintendents from Colorado’s two largest school districts have signed a petition asking President Trump and Congress to extend temporary protections for young undocumented immigrants — some of them teachers.

Denver’s Tom Boasberg and Jefferson County’s Dan McMinimee joined more than 1,000 educators from across the country in signing the petition drafted by the nonprofit education advocacy group Stand for Children.

The petition asks that officials keep alive former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and help pass the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act, first introduced in Congress in 2001, would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

The petition reads in part:

Out of concern for children and the strength of our nation, we respectfully call on officials at the highest levels of power to address this issue in an urgent way. Students must be able to attend school and graduate with a clear path toward a productive future, and teachers who were brought here as children must be able to continue to strengthen our schools and our nation.

Many in the education community raised concern after Trump was elected in November. Trump ran on a promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and end Obama’s deferment program. On Thursday, some of Colorado’s Latino lawmakers sent a letter to Trump asking him to back away from that promise.

Other education leaders in Colorado who signed the petition:

  • Savinay Chandrasekhar, executive director of Minds Matter of Denver, which provides tutoring and other support for low-income youth.
  • Kimberlee Sia, executive director of KIPP Colorado Schools, part of a national charter school network.
  • Lauren Trent, director of education partnerships of CareerWise Colorado, which is developing an apprenticeship program for Colorado youth set to debut this fall.
  • Michael Clough, superintendent of Sheridan School District, southwest of Denver.
  • Patricia Hanrahan, deputy superintendent of Englewood Schools.

Numerous Denver Public Schools teachers also signed the petition.

petition drive

School chiefs in Memphis, Nashville join education leaders urging protection of ‘Dreamers’ under Trump

The superintendents of Tennessee’s two largest school districts are among 1,500 education leaders to sign a petition asking for continued protection from deportation for “Dreamers,” young people brought to the U.S. as children.

Dorsey Hopson

Dorsey Hopson of Shelby County Schools and Shawn Joseph of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools are among chiefs of at least 15 urban districts to sign the letter. Also joining the campaign are at least 30 educators from mostly Memphis and Nashville, as well as leaders from charter and nonprofit organizations and teacher’s unions from across the nation.

The petition was released this week before Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday as the nation’s 45th president. During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to do away with the federal policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Policy, or DACA, as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration. However, he recently told Time magazine that he would “work something out” for people known as “Dreamers,” so named for the failed DREAM Act legislation that would provide a path toward citizenship.

The petition calls DACA “crucially important to public education across the country” and also urges passage of the DREAM Act. The drive was organized by Stand for Children, a nonprofit group that advocates for education equity in 11 states, including Tennessee.

Cardell Orrin, director of Stand for Children in Memphis, said the signatures show that “leaders in Nashville and Memphis care about what’s happening with our kids and want to see the dream continue for Dreamers.”

He added that school leaders are mobilized to work together in behalf of students if Trump attempts to do away with DACA.

“There may not be as many undocumented students here as in some of the others states (such as) Texas or Arizona. But this could still have great impact on kids in Tennessee,” Orrin said.

Among other Tennesseans signing the petition as of Friday were:

  • Marcus Robinson chief executive officer, Memphis Education Fund
  • Maya Bugg, chief executive officer, Tennessee Charter School Center
  • Brian Gilson, chief people officer, Achievement Schools, Memphis
  • Sonji Branch, affiliate director, Communities in Schools of Tennessee
  • Sylvia Flowers, executive director of educator talent, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Ginnae Harley, federal programs director, Knox County Schools

Read what Trump’s inauguration means for one undocumented Nashville student-turned-teacher.