Education

News, trends, and analysis related to higher education and grade school districts.

Alberto G. / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he doubts that there will be  federal sanctions for schools that have high rates of students who boycotted standardized tests this spring.

Twenty percent of students statewide boycotted the controversial exams associated with the Common Core learning standards, with higher rates upstate and on Long Island. Federal officials had the power to sanction schools with high opt our rates by withholding funding, and the state’s education commissioner said a few days ago that she was talking to officials and would not rule out the sanctions compete.

Lisa Ann Rogers / Flickr

Le Moyne College and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) are making it easier to get an accelerated degree with the expansion of their successful fast track program.

With college costs skyrocketing anytime a student can cut down on the number of years they have to go to school the better. And that’s just what the fast track program currently does for students at Le Moyne’s Madden School of Business.  

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

The education programs that serve New York’s prison population are streamlining the path to a college degree. Private organizations offer college classes in 19 state facilities. Now several of the groups have formed a consortium to help students make it to graduation day.

In the past, transfer to a new prison often meant the end of an education for people working on their degrees. Many facilities don’t offer college programs. And even if they do, there are uncertainties: Will credits transfer? Are spots in the program open?

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News file photo

New York State Education officials say there’s some improvement in the Common Core aligned math and English tests taken by third through eighth graders this year, but admit that two-thirds of the students who took the test are still, essentially, failing the exams.

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who just began her job in July, put the best face on data that shows student test scores in third through eighth grade math and English tests have made just incremental progress in year three of the state’s implementation of the Common Core learning standards.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Summer is a lean time for adjunct professors. They teach part-time, and in the summer there are often fewer courses available for them. At Binghamton University, things get even tighter.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

New York state’s new education commissioner, in her first address since beginning the job just over one week ago, told the rural schools association meeting in Cooperstown, that she intends to be more inclusive to teachers. 

Alberto G. / Flickr

Testing giant Pearson will no longer develop New York’s standardized tests for elementary and middle school students. The state is turning instead to Questar Assessment. That could signal a broader shift on education after heated controversy.

New state education commissioner visits former school district

Jul 10, 2015
Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

New York Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia has only been on the job for four days and she’s already visiting her old stomping grounds.

Elia visited the Sweet Home School District in Amherst in western New York Thursday morning. Elia taught social studies there for 16 years  in the 1970s and 198os.

Elia spoke with the school board, teachers, administrators, parents and reporters about public education.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Transgender students in New York continue to face harassment and discrimination at school, according to a recent report from the New York Civil Liberties Union. That’s despite a five-year-old anti-bullying law called the Dignity for All Students act, or DASA.

The law bans discrimination based on a whole list of characteristics, including race, religion, gender and gender identity. But when it passed in 2010, the social climate was different.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University has joined the ranks of college campuses that are now smoke free.

The ban goes in effect this month.  Work crews dismantled all of the cigarette butt receptacles and signs went up alerting anyone to the new policy, which prohibits the use of all tobacco products -- cigarettes, cigars, snuff, pipes,  and chewing tobacco.  

Gail Grozalis, executive director of the University Wellness Initiative, says vaping is also on the list.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

 

New York’s Board of Regents meets Monday and Tuesday to finalize controversial new teacher evaluation laws ahead of a June 30 deadline.

When legislators mandated the evaluation system in the state budget, they left out some details. Now the state Education Department is writing those rules, and the Regents will vote on them.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse City School district reached a contract agreement with its teachers, which district officials are calling historic. 

The deal offers teachers pay raises over the next five years, ranging from three to five percent.  It marks the biggest raises the teachers have received in a decade, and makes them among the highest paid teachers in the region. 

Alberto G. / Flickr

Le Moyne College announced this week that it is going test optional. They’re joining a growing movement that includes other New York schools that are not requiring SAT or ACT test scores in their admission process. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

What goes up must come down, and luckily for researchers at SUNY ESF in Syracuse, a weather balloon they launched just over a month ago from their Syracuse campus, was finally discovered along a remote area in Cortland County.

The project was part of the Global Space Balloon Challenge, and engineering students, led by professor Giorgos Mountrakis, fashioned the high-altitude balloon so it could carry information-gathering electronics thousands of miles high.

SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego is expanding to Syracuse.

The state university has had an extension site on Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse for a little over six years. Now the New York State Board of Regents just approved designating SUNY Oswego's Metro Center a "branch campus." That means starting in fall 2016, SUNY Oswego student will now be able to complete degree and certificate programs in Syracuse. Currently, students are required to take a course at the main campus.

Questions remain about teacher evaluation timeline

Jun 2, 2015
Colleen / via Flickr

While ethics reform may be dominating much of the conversation in Albany, education advocates are hoping the public and lawmakers don't forget there's much work to be done regarding teacher evaluations. Last month, the Assembly passed legislation to push back the deadline for local school districts to implement their teacher evaluation system. But final action has not been taken on that legislation.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Part-time faculty at Ithaca College voted to unionize on Thursday after a four-month effort. Union “yes” votes prevailed by a margin of 119.

“I’m feeling pretty good about that,” says Ithaca College adjunct lecturer Rachel Kaufman. She helped organize the effort.

“A lot of people really want this union,” she says. “It’s something we had a strong sense of before, but it’s great to have it confirmed. I’m really looking forward to negotiations and making things better.”

Shinichi Sugiyama / Flickr

Sharing -- it’s one of the first lessons kids learn in school. And now New York is telling schools that they have to share, too. The state wants schools to come together and save money.

“In our case the 15 districts in Broome-Tioga BOCES have to realize an annual savings of $2.7 million,” says Windsor Central School District superintendent Jason Andrews.

Melinda Shelton / Flickr

Efforts to raise expectations for New York’s teachers have stalled. In 2014, the state rolled out four new, tougher teacher certification tests. But last week the state delayed the requirement.

The Board of Regents cited low pass rates on the new tests as reason for the delay. So they created a “safety net.” Until next June, teachers who fail to pass the new exams can get certified in other ways. The state wants to give would-be teachers more time to adjust.

But SUNY Cortland School of Education dean Andrea LaChance doesn't want to adjust.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, gave the commencement speech at Le Moyne College on Sunday. Dolan's visit has been marked with controversy.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston / Flickr

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of New York, is expected to speak at Le Moyne College's graduation ceremony Sunday, but some students won't be listening. They aren't happy with the choice of Dolan as commencement speaker. 

Sarah Harris / NCPR

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it again and again, universal pre-kindergarten is a big priority. Last year, the legislature approved a $340 million program to increase public, full-day pre-K access. But only one school district in the North Country received the grant for pre-K funding.

Canton Elementary School principal Joe McDonough says pre-K isn’t just fun. It’s essential for kids’ development.

"People come to school even at the ripe old age of four with a variety of experiences and levels of knowledge and skills," McDonough said. 

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls universal pre-kindergarten one of his big priorities, and last year state lawmakers approved a big grant program to increase full-day pre-K slots. It’s $340 million a year for five years. That grant just got approved for its second round, but the first year brought mixed results.

Sean MacEntee / Flicr

 

A bill introduced this week in Congress tackles student privacy online. It would limit how educational technology companies can use the data they collect. In New York, similar rules are already in place, and they’re at work every day at one upstate school where technology is everywhere.

Sarah Latimer directs technology at Chenango Valley schools, and she thinks about privacy a lot.

“We’ve kind of had that conversation ongoing in New York for a little while now,” she says. “It’s been a very hot topic.”

SUNY ESF

Some SUNY ESF students are hoping neighbors in the eastern portion of Cortland County can help them find a balloon that was part of a science experiment that went awry. 

Students launched a high altitude balloon for a nationwide contest on Wednesday.

Alyssa Endres, a student in the Environmental Resource Engineering Department, said it was supposed to explode when it got high enough.

www.urmc.rochester.edu

Without additional state funding, New York medical school officials say they won’t be able to attract or keep world class researchers. Albany lawmakers have rejected their $50 million request to fund recruitment and retention efforts. 

New York’s medical research institutions say they can’t compete with the funds out-of-state universities are using to lure the nation’s top research talent.

JECO photo / via Flickr

College graduation season is nearing and along with finding a job, student debt is also on grad’s minds. One program New York is hoping will help and keep those grads in the state.

Upstate New York is known for its idyllic college campuses, but its towns and cities struggle to keep those young people around once they graduate, as they’re drawn away by jobs and more trendy cities.

timlewisnm / Flickr

The move to refuse the state standardized tests scheduled for later this week is getting more vocal, as test dates approach for children in third through eighth grades. Teachers unions, and some parent organizations are organizing opt out sessions and email blasts meant to let families know how to refuse the tests that start Tuesday. For one Central New York family, keeping their children from taking the test sends a message to Albany about a complicated issue they say, goes deeper than using tests to measure teachers performance. 

Ed and Eddie / Flickr

Education reforms were one of the most contentious parts of this year's state budget. But while most of the attention went to negotiations about teacher evaluations and standardized tests, new policies also were put in place for dealing with failing schools. 

New York State Reporting Project

For more than twenty years, the Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program has taken kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and given them a fighting chance to earn a high school diploma and more. Of the 40 Liberty Partnerships located in the state of New York, Utica is one the largest with about 350 students enrolled a year.

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