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Dear Colleagues,


As you may already know, I have accepted a position with the U.S. Department of Education, where I will serve as Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and delegated the responsibilities of Deputy Secretary. I'm excited about this new opportunity to keep working together to advance our common goals.


I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to work with Chancellor Merryl Tisch, the members of the Board of Regents, and all of the dedicated staff at the State Education Department.


As I prepare to take on this new challenge, I'm excited about the opportunity to build on the work we have done together to support our students across the State's classrooms and districts. Together we have inspired colleagues, parents and communities across New York around the notion that we can reach higher standards together - not easily and not without challenges - but we can achieve those goals.


Too many of our students leave high school unprepared for what's next in college and careers. Many of our fellow citizens wonder if their children will have a better life than they did. Ultimately our work is about changing that reality, by delivering opportunities for every young person. As a kid whose life was saved by the incredible teachers I had in Brooklyn public schools, I know first-hand the power that educators have to transform the world. 


In December, I spoke to Network Team Institute participants, where I expressed my respect for the great work educators across the state do every day. A video of my speech is available here. 




We are making progress because of your courage. Students are achieving more and graduating at higher rates because of your efforts. I thank you for your commitment and hard work, and I look forward to closing that gap between what 'is' and what 'ought' to be, together.


In this issue of News & Notes, you'll hear from a parent who, after learning more about the Common Core, believes the transition to higher standards is good for her daughters. You'll also find information about the 2015-2016 state school aid proposal approved by the Board of Regents last month and high school graduation rates for the 2010 cohort, which show encouraging progress. Lastly, there's news from the Child Nutrition Office about eligibility guidelines for free and reduced price meals.


Thank you for all you do as educators, family and community members in supporting our students. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you on behalf of all our students. 


John B. King, Jr.
Video: Hesitation Turns to Belief in Common Core
Kelli Ransco, a parent in New York's Finger Lakes region, says after doing her homework on what the Common Core Learning Standards are all about, she believes the transition to higher standards is good for her daughters. Find out what she's already noticing in her daughter Alana's progress at Lincoln Elementary School in the Newark Central School District.

Click here to watch the video. 

Board of Regents Recommends $2 Billion School Aid Increase 
Proposal Advances Goals of Higher Standards &
College and Career Readiness for All Students 
The New York State Board of Regents has approved its school aid proposal for fiscal year 2015-16. The proposal calls for a $2 billion increase in state aid, more equitable funding for high need school districts, funding directed to the restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment and increased investments in programs to ensure school districts can improve performance consistent with the goal of college and career readiness for all students. 


The State Aid Proposal reflects several issues, including:

  • Support for the high quality Career and Technical Education programming that will create new opportunities under the Multiple Pathways initiative;
  • A more coordinated early childhood system that enhances access to high-quality education programs statewide;
  • Improved services for English Language Learners (ELLs);
  • Support for the education of recent immigrants;
  • The need to invest in new instructional materials that reflect college and career ready standards;
  • Professional development for teachers that relies on teacher leaders with proven classroom success to serve as coaches and mentors for their colleagues; and
  • Encouraging regionalization efforts where appropriate

Click here to read the 2015-16 State School Aid Proposal. 

Statewide High School Graduation Rate Shows Continuing Gains;
Large Achievement Gaps Remain

The Department has released high school graduation rates for the 2010 cohort (students who entered 9th grade in 2010).  The overall graduation rate increased to 76.4 percent from the previous year's 74.9 percent. The graduation rates reflect the achievement of the first group of students who entered grade 9 following New York's adoption of the Common Core standards in July 2010. 

Despite the higher standards, the graduation rate for the 2010 cohort is more than ten percentage points higher than it was for the 2001 cohort (65.8 percent), which means that more than 20,000 more students graduated in June 2014 than in June 2005. 


However, Commissioner King noted that many students still exit their fourth year of high school unprepared for college or the workforce and large achievement gaps remain. More than 94 percent of students from low need districts graduate with a high school diploma as compared to only 66 percent of students from high need urban-suburban districts. 


Students once identified as English Language Learners (ELL) who were previously served by bilingual and English as a Second Language programs continue to show progress.  For the 2010 cohort, such students graduated at a rate of 73 percent, compared to the previous year's 71 percent.  Current ELLs graduated at a rate of 31 percent.  The Board of Regents continues to take steps to improve district delivery of ELL services and instruction.


Click here for more information.

News from the Child Nutrition Office

Foster Children Categorically Eligible for Free School Meals


Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, foster children whose placement is the responsibility of the local department of social services (LDSS) or the court system are automatically eligible to receive free school meals.   


In New York City, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) has an automated data sharing system that districts can access to identify all eligible foster children.  Outside of New York City, the LDSS will send individual certification documentation for each eligible foster child directly to the child's school.  The LDSS is also responsible for transferring the free meal certification information if the foster child moves from one school/district to another during the school year. 


School districts should also encourage households to include the foster child on the household application to increase the household size and potentially qualify the other household children for free or reduced price meals. The foster child remains eligible for free meals even if the household application does not qualify. School districts should also routinely inform their community of available options to qualify students for free or reduced price meals throughout the school year.


Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Provides Increased Access to School Meals


The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) provides school districts an alternative to collecting and approving household income applications annually to qualify children for free/reduced price meals. CEP requires all meals to be served to children at no charge. The district must also demonstrate that at least 40 percent of the students were directly certified for free meals as of April 1 of the prior school year.  School districts can opt to include the entire district, one building or a combination of buildings in the CEP.


Many New York State schools are reporting increased revenues and meal participation along with a decreased administrative burden as a result of implementing the CEP. For more information on the CEP, please visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/community-eligibility-provision or www.nysed.gov/cn/cnms.htm