May 9, 2017

Educators for Excellence-New York Reacts to Board of Regents’ Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act

May 9, 2017 (New York)— Maryanne Kiley, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-New York (E4E-New York), a teacher-led organization, responded to the New York State Board of Regents’ draft plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the plan commits to upholding some academic standards for students, it lacks the urgency to support our neediest schools and does not address school climate, a top priority for New York teachers. 

“We appreciate that the Board of Regents has demonstrated its commitment to strong academic standards in this ESSA plan, by making English language arts and math proficiency the driving factors for identifying schools for support. However, we are disappointed that the Board of Regents has not chosen to include school climate as an indicator of school quality, as nearly 500 New York teachers urged them to do just last week. The draft plan also does not address how New York will empower teachers and school leaders to ensure that students in low-performing schools have access to the most effective educators. We hope the Board of Regents will consider the valuable input of classroom teachers during their final round of listening sessions,” said Maryanne Kiley, Executive Director of E4E-New York.

Last week, E4E-New York sent a letter to the Board of Regents, urging it to consider school climate as an indicator of school quality under ESSA. The letter– which was signed by 479 teachers across New York City – argued that including a school climate index as an accountability measure under ESSA would empower the state to foster schools where students, teachers and parents feel safe and respected, which is especially important in today’s political climate. 

In the letter, E4E-New York recommended that the school climate index include:

  • School Discipline Data: New York should include the discipline data that ESSA requires states to publish in annual report cards to measure school quality. The New York State Education Department should be mindful of precipitous drops in discipline rates, and should provide resources to schools, such as restorative practice training and positive behavior intervention systems. 
  • Chronic absenteeism: There is a strong relationship between attendance, achievement and graduation rates and this measure is relevant to all grades. 
  • Community engagement surveys option: Some districts, such as New York City, already use community engagement surveys to gauge school climate. The state should evaluate those surveys, and allow districts to include this measure in their school quality report. The state should also create resources for new districts to implement community surveys.