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NYS Education Department officials update districts  

Sept. 2010 -- As part of an effort to keep in better communication with school districts across the state, New York State Education Department officials Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education John King and Associate Commissioner for District Services Ken Slentz met with superintendents from seven BOCES on Friday, September 17.

The seven BOCES are part of the Capital District/North Country Joint Management Team, and include the following: Capital Region, St. Lawrence-Lewis, Champlain Valley, Franklin-Essex-Hamilton, Questar III, Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery and Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES. Together they represent 137 school districts.

King noted that the $696 million federal Race to the Top funding New York State has won will help goals in four reform areas:

arrow bulletAdopting internationally-benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace.

arrow bulletBuilding instructional data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practice.

arrow bulletRecruiting, developing, retaining and rewarding effective teachers and principals.

arrow bulletTurning around the lowest-achieving schools.


He thanked districts, labor unions and others for their support in the Race to the Top application. "This really was a statewide victory," he said.

King said the New York State Education Department doesnt have the staffing to implement all the needed reforms, and so will utilize others to deliver change. Specifically, every level of education will be involved:

arrow bulletThe New York State Education Department will set policy and find products to help districts.

arrow bulletBOCES across the state will partner in making those policies and products available to districts.

arrow bulletDistricts will implement changes.

arrow bulletSchools will be where the changes occur.


He said the large amount of work that needs to be accomplished includes working on common core standards that better prepare students for college or careers, making sure assessments test for those standards, creating a statewide common curriculum that meets those standards, and making sure teachers are prepared to teach them. "There is work to do, to make sure all aspects of this agenda interact," he said.

The reform process will be difficult and lengthy, but is critical, said King, who noted that today only 71 percent of students in New York State graduate. "Were talking about leaving lots of students behind and that jeopardizes our long-term prosperity."

Associate Commissioner for District Services Ken Slentz

Slentz also noted the challenge ahead: "We need to be honest about the tremendous amount of work we need to do going forward." But he also said that by working together we can meet those challenges. "The opportunities are just tremendous, but we need your help in getting there."

Slentz highlighted some changes and current events at the NYS Education Department:

arrow bulletHe is in the newly-created Office of District Services, which was created to help the NYS Education Department change from being a compliance/regulatory agency into a service agency.

arrow bulletPart of the Race to the Top award includes funding to increase opportunities for students to complete online learning.

arrow bulletHe encouraged superintendents to invite himself and King to board meetings or smaller superintendent meetings, so that he and King can get feedback from schools, and to help keep everyone aware of Education Department changes.

arrow bulletA new office has been created, "Office of Innovative School Models," to focus on improving the lowest-performing schools and to oversee (and monitor) charter schools.

In response to questions, Slentz noted that Race to the Top frequently asked questions/answers will be posted on the NYS Education Department website the week of September 20, and that an initial run of the total funding each school district will receive will be distributed by the first week of October. That document will include the scope of work and describe the basic activities the federal award will fund.


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