Community members convened Tuesday, Oct. 25, at HFM BOCES for a regional meeting to provide input for New York’s plan to implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the federal oversight legislation for education since 2001.
The HFM meeting was one of many being held this month by BOCES around the state at the request of the New York State Education Department.
Participants, which included students, parents, teachers, business and community leaders as well as school administrators, were encouraged to offer feedback on 36 high concept ideas related to key topics covered by the state’s plan, which must be submitted to the federal Education Department by July 2017.
Topics included challenging academic standards and assessments, accountability methods, support for teachers, all students, English language learners, and the improvement of low performing schools.
“The law itself offers opportunity to do great things to serve our students, but the scope of the law is important because of the control it exerts over a LOT of funding. We are given the chance here to offer input to a plan that school districts will live by for at least five years,” HFM BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel said.
Broadalbin-Perth Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson provided context for discussing the new law. Tomlinson served as a member of the NYSED Think Tank, a group of nearly 100 stakeholders asked to provide feedback on the state’s Characteristics of Highly Effective Schools and the guiding principles to be used as “cornerstones for development” of the state’s ESSA Plan.
“The foundational question is, ‘How does the state’s overall plan bring together all requirements to ensure that all children have significant opportunity to meet state standards and graduate from high school?’” Tomlinson asked.
However, according to Dr. Michel, the ideas under consideration for the state’s plan assume the same school systems remain in place that have existed for decades.
“We know that students succeed with different delivery models, project based learning at our PTECH schools as an example. I challenge you to look for the opportunities for innovation in your discussions tonight,” Dr. Michel said.
Discussion notes from the regional planning meeting were compiled into a summary passed on to NYSED and the Board of Regents, who will weigh the suggestions and complete the state’s plan.
“We are disappointed that the high concept ideas offered for discussion do not address innovation at all. There is nothing game changing here, nothing that matches the collaborative growth mindset we believed we would see from the release of authority over education policy back to the states by the feds,” the report summarized.
“ESSA offers opportunity for truly creative solutions that would benefit all students and close the gaps for high-risk students, but the view from HFM stakeholders is that the opportunity has not been embraced, and the status quo will be retained with only modest tweaks. We only hope the submitted plan does not squeeze all the flexibility and innovative promise from ESSA’s implementation in New York State,” the report said.
Learn more about ESSA on HFM BOCES website: www.hfmboces.org/essa/