BOCES HOSTS FORUM ON STATE EDUCATION PLAN



March 09, 2017

Educators and interested community members gathered at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES this week for two public forums on New York’s developing plan to implement the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act.
 
Educators from across the region gathered at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES Wednesday to provide feedback on New York’s developing plan to implement the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act.
 
The federal law, passed in March, replaces No Child Left Behind, the sweeping education reform measure signed by President George W. Bush in 2002. Each state must develop a plan to implement the law. At this point, the state Education Department has drafted “high concept ideas” addressing topics such as accountability measurements, supporting English language learners, supporting excellent educators and creating challenging academic standards.
 
Before writing a plan based on those ideas, the state Education Department has sought to obtain feedback from parents, students and educators around the state. The forum held at BOCES was one of many throughout the state where educators were invited to comment on the plan. BOCES Superintendent Dr. James Ryan greeted participants and gave them a brief overview of the state’s high concept ideas. New York State Regent Judith Johnson attended the session and urged participants to speak their minds.
 
Unlike No Child Left Behind, the new law allows states to come up with means of measuring school success. Participants at the forum praised the idea of giving schools partial credit for improvement when students show progress even if they have not yet reached proficiency. They also praised the idea of using high school graduation rates for four, five and six years, rather than the existing four-year rate because some students take longer but eventually earn a high school diploma. Finally, they supported taking a high school student’s highest Regents exam score as a measure of success because it promotes perseverance.
 
However, participants said they continued to be concerned about measuring school success solely on the basis of standardized test scores. Dr. Frances Wills, superintendent of Putnam Valley schools and one of the participants, said the state needs to recognize other ways of measuring student success such as portfolios of work, projects or presentations.
 
When it comes to English Language Learners, participants supported the idea of tailoring the education of ELL students to the skills they have when starting school. Some students from other countries are literate in their native language and proficient in grade level coursework, while others are not literate in their native language and have little experience with school. Participants said realistic timelines needed to be set based on the student’s skill at the outset.
 
For all of the participants, the forum offered an opportunity to do a “reality check” on the state’s high concept ideas and influence the plan that will be developed. The forum was organized by the Curriculum and Instruction Service at PNW BOCES.