PRIORITY ISSUE: Education Standards and Accountability
Young people entering the workforce must have a strong grounding in challenging academic subjects to compete successfully. Competition only grows more intense in today's global economy. In 1950, 60 percent of jobs for new workers were classified as unskilled, compared to just 15% today.
Over the past several years, our education system has raised the learning standards for all students to ensure that young people will get the high quality education they need.
The passage of five Regents Exams helps certify that completion of high school means that a student has actually received a high school education. They must not be undermined by the legislature in any way. New York State is ranked second in the amount of money it spends (approximately $38 billion) in state and local dollars on education and is in the middle with regard to student performance.
Any additional dollars provided by the State do not have a chance of making a difference unless the following things happen:
Maintain valid, reliable and comparable assessments including the five Regents exams required for graduation. The state tests have revealed the performance gap between poor and/or minority students and the more affluent. They have also revealed that not all schools are failing their poor and/or minority students. They point the way to school improvement.
We urge the legislature to support the State's testing program - it underpins school improvement and accountability. It's key to knowing whether students have met the state standards. Accountability is based on having a high quality, objective and comparative assessment system. Key components include the following:
- Require school districts to plan how they will use any increased state dollars they receive to improve student achievement before they receive such funds.
- Simplify the school aid formula and direct additional funding to improve the education of the neediest children in the state.
- Provide mentoring support for new teachers and professional and leadership development for more seasoned educators.
- Establish consequences for adults when schools persistently fail.
- Provide more options for parents by increasing support for Charter Schools.
- Make school performance gap information available to the public through the Just For The Kids web site.
- Do best practices studies of the highest performing schools in New York State via Just For The Kids and make the information available to all schools, schools of education and the general public.
- Provide recognition and rewards through programs such as The Pathfinder Award and Trailblazer Award Program in the executive budget.
- Support the executive budget provision of resources for a public private partnership to integrate technology into the classroom.
- Support (through matching funds) the creation of school, business, and community partnerships to increase student achievement.