Education Committee Newsletter - April 2001
- Component Retesting Being Offered to High School Students for The First Time
- Commissioner Stands Firm on Requiring Regents for All
- Promoting a Language Proficient Society: What the Business Community can do
- Grants to Train High-Tech Workers Recently Announced
While there is considerable controversy over testing nationwide and in pockets in New York State, little is often know or understood about New York States own testing program. A huge amount of work has gone into making it the most standards-connected, relevant, reasonable, yet rigorous and fair program in the country.
The Regents and the State Education Department have also show extraordinary concern for students who might not be good test takers. For instance, in 1999, a Safety Net Implementation Study Group, on which The Business Council was represented, recommended to the Regents that students be provided with an opportunity to concentrate and retest on specific areas of the standards that they have not achieved. This spring, component tests will be available in English and mathematics. English will have two components and mathematics four. The component retesting will occur May 7-11, 2001. The tests will be full-length and comparable in difficulty to Regents examinations. Each component retest has a greater number of questions on the component area than on regular Regents examinations.
Seniors who have taken the Regents examination at least twice and have achieved a score between 48 and 64 will be eligible for the component retesting. This gives students yet another opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the level of performance required for either a local or Regents diploma.
Commissioner Mills recently ruled that students at New York Performance
Standards Consortium schools (a group of public high schools who oppose
statewide testing) must also take the same Regents exams as do other
students in the state to get a high school diploma.
In December of 1999 the New York State Performance Standards Consortium requested the extension of a variance on testing that they were granted in 1995 by former Commissioner Sobol.
The State Assessment Panel, which advises the Commissioner on all alternative assessment proposals, did the initial review of the consortium proposal. As a result of that review the Commissioner determined the need for a comprehensive expert evaluation of the Consortiums assessment instruments and processes. A Blue Ribbon Review Panel was formed and it conducted an expert evaluation between May 2000 and March 2001.
This panels findings related to the following areas and led to the Commissioners final decision:
- The assessments were not adequately aligned to the State Learning Standards;
- There was insufficient data to show that the alternative assessments are at least as rigorous as corresponding required State assessments;
- The limited data presented by the Consortium did not show strong correlations among tests of similar knowledge and skills (therefore calling into question the validity of the Consortiums assessments).
As New York companies go global, the foreign language proficiency of their workforce becomes more and more important. Along with globalization comes a much more diverse workforce with many native languages. Therefore there has never been a better time to promote foreign language study and to let students know the wealth of opportunity such study holds for them.
A few simple things you can do:
- Talk with teachers and administrators about how they can help prepare students to work in an increasingly global economy.
- Send company representatives to school career days to talk to students about the important role that languages other than English play in the workplace.
- Establish partnerships with schools, other businesses, and communities to support activities such as, starting or maintaining language program, student internships, tutoring, and mentoring.
- Provide employees with opportunities to maintain and improve their language skills.
- Provide appropriate cultural training for employees who work in culturally diverse environments.
- Make policymakers aware of the need for workers to be proficient in more than one language.
- Express your support for a more effective foreign language program of studies to your local New York State Regent.
Adapted from Promoting a Language Proficient Society: What you Can Do, ERIC Digest.
Governor Pataki announced in mid-April that 28 organizations throughout New York State will be awarded more than $15 million for training workers in high-tech careers.
The awards, which will benefit 4,000 workers statewide, will help workers and their employers keep pace with rapidly changing technologies.
The grants, which are funded through the Workforce Investment Act , are awarded through a competitive Request for Application process. Recipients are small, medium or large businesses, or business consortia that employ high-tech workers in high-demand occupations.
Applicants must be headquartered or have at least one physical location in New York State. The grant award can be used for training current workers or new hires.