Assemblyman Pete Lopez Cites Regents Reforms as 2011 “Sleeper”

Major Education Changes Overshadowed By Budget
March 24, 2011
Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I-Schoharie) today shared concern over impending state Board of Regents education reforms. While the Board plans to revamp the state’s secondary education curriculum, the Assemblyman is concerned that the Board’s proposal is not receiving the fullest possible discussion, both at the local level and in the State Capitol.

“With the budget deadline looming before us, the focus has been on school funding – not education reform. Working closely with the schools in my district, I learned about the Board’s proposed statewide reforms and I am concerned that my fellow lawmakers and the community as a whole are not aware of this important work. The Regents’ changes will affect an entire generation of students across the state,” said the assemblyman.

The Regents Reform Agenda focuses on nine strategic goals, all of which center on a new model of thinking - one that transitions from input-based assessments (course hours, course titles) to one that encompasses performance and outcome-based assessment (student preparedness for college, ability to compete in global economy and leadership skills). The nine strategic goals include:

  • Teacher Preparation and Effectiveness;
  • Curriculum and Professional Development;
  • Improving Assessment;
  • Transform the Field of School Leader Preparation;
  • Expand Early Childhood Opportunities;
  • Raise Graduation Rates for At-Risk Students;
  • Replace Failing Schools;
  • Building a P-20 Data System; and
  • Transform the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

More specific reform proposals include increasing graduation requirements to include four years each of math and science, a “college and career ready” credit (such as a technical education course, a college-level course or an advanced or AP course), increasing the required passing scores on Regents exams, and requiring that students pass a second Regents exam in math. Furthermore, the board proposed to extend the school day and school year.

To give students greater flexibility with their education, the board also proposes to allow students to choose to replace one of their Regents exams with successful completion of certain technical assessment programs, give students the chance to earn course credit through integrated training programs and allow students to earn credit through demonstration of competency rather than seat time.

The board has outlined a schedule to implement its reform proposals, beginning this year and running through 2015. This year, the board will seek to implement training of Common Core Standards for ELA and math, implement and train school-based Inquiry Teams, and implement new performance evolutions for teachers and principals in ELA and math. In 2012, additional changes will be put into place and, in 2013, new curriculum models will be used for science, social studies and the arts.

Additionally, the Regents recommend a variety of other initiatives, including mandate relief, shared services, a call for “green” buildings, restructuring teacher pensions, and a comprehensive reorganization of school districts. Their proposals include increasing the role of BOCES programs, extending their services to charter schools, and consolidating BOCES and school administrative offices (similar to legislation which Assemblyman Lopez has introduced this year).

Assemblyman Lopez said, “Those who historically follow the Regents curriculum changes know that these changes generally remain in place for many years. I believe the process must be opened up more fully to give taxpayers, parents, educators and lawmakers the opportunity to be effective partners in offering our young people the best possible education.”