Post

August 15, 2018

 

Dr. Lisa Long

New York State Education Department

Office of Accountability, Room 400

55 Hanson Place

Brooklyn, NY  11217

Via E-Mail: ESSARegComment@nysed.gov

 

Dear Dr. Long:

We share the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and Board of Regents’ belief that the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) represents an opportunity for New York to advance an equity agenda on behalf of the state’s students. ESSA enables New York to define what it means to be a successful school, set clear expectations that schools must raise achievement for all of their students – not just some – and help schools and school districts by targeting urgency, resources, and support to the places where students are struggling.

We have appreciated the inclusive and transparent process that the Board of Regents and NYSED have worked to maintain while creating the ESSA state plan. Our comments below are not intended to revisit decisions that have already been made in the state plan itself, which has now been approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Rather, we are focused on how the plan will be implemented in order to maximize the positive impact on improving the quality of education for historically under-served groups of students.

There are many strong aspects of the state plan and the regulations, several of which we highlight below. In particular, we would like to point to the importance of preserving the provisions regarding test participation, which are an essential equity protection for historically under-served groups of students whose needs are too often ignored in our education system. Throughout the ESSA process, NYSED and the Board of Regents worked to find common ground among opposing views on this issue. For some stakeholders, even these reasonable compromises will never be enough. There are those who have asked you to violate federal law and ignore test participation altogether. Others have called for provisions that would effectively enable schools to systemically exclude certain groups of students from state assessments. We stand with civil rights, education, parent, and business community partners in urging you to maintain the current provisions. (We previously submitted a public comment letter focused on this issue, which we reattach here.)

In addition, we would also like to draw your attention to three issues described in greater detail in the full comments that follow, where the proposed regulations do not yet fulfill key commitments found in the state plan:

  1. Parent involvement – We are grateful that the ESSA plan takes essential steps to ensure parent involvement in the school improvement process; indeed, this is a highlight of New York’s approach to accountability under ESSA. However, the protections found in the state plan are not reflected in the proposed regulations that specify how the plan will be implemented. (See Comment 7, page 6)
  2. School discipline – We strongly support the state’s commitment to hold schools accountable for reducing suspensions beginning in the second year of the accountability system, as specified in the state plan. The proposed regulations do not commit New York to the timeline established in the state plan, and we hope this will be remedied. (See Comment 3, page 4)
  3. Dual enrollment – We are also pleased that New York adopted a College, Career & Civic Readiness accountability indicator, and that the state plan clearly specifies that the indicator will give schools the highest level of recognition on behalf of students who earn college credit for dual enrollment courses, similar to how the indicator treats performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate assessments. This commitment is, however, not reflected in the proposed regulations, which we hope will be amended so that this approach will take effect when data collection permits. (See Comment 12, page 10)

These and other important issues are described in greater detail in our full comments, which follow.

Thank you again for the opportunity to submit feedback on the proposed regulations. We would be happy to provide any additional information.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ian Rosenblum

Executive Director

The Education Trust–New York