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Top New York policymakers to tackle state budget, student privacy, and teacher certification at April meeting

The New York State Board of Regents
The New York State Board of Regents
Monica Disare

A array of topics could pique the interest of teachers, administrators, and families at April’s Board of Regents meeting.

The state’s top policymakers are gearing up to discuss student data privacy protections and the recently approved state budget, which will add about a billion dollars to schools across New York. They are also planning to discuss another potential shift to graduation requirements, this time by providing a new option that would allow students to show mastery in the arts.

Here’s what you need to know about the April Regents agenda:

State aid

What does the state’s multi-billion budget deal mean for education? The Regents are planning to discuss that question on Monday.

Lawmakers’ $1 billion boost to education spending means education escaped significant financial ramifications in a difficult budget year. However, that number is still far less than the $1.6 billion increase the Board of Regents requested. State education department officials will likely explain on Monday what that funding gap means for New York State students and schools.

Also included in the final state budget is a requirement that certain school districts submit information about what they plan to spend on each individual school. The proposal — which in an earlier and more controversial draft was criticized by top state education officials — effectively speeds up a plan already required under federal law. (It also requires districts to submit budgetary information before they spend money, instead of after.)

Top policy makers devoted a large portion of last month’s meeting to discussing how they planned to implement the new federal requirements. Officials could explain during this meeting how the state law changes their plans — and whether they embrace or grudgingly accept state lawmaker’s new rule.

Besides outlining the budget’s big-ticket items, state officials will also likely run through some of the smaller items they hoped for in the budget, such as money to create new types of tests and implementing elements of the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan.

Student Data Privacy

The board will also hear an update on the process of drafting regulations to comply with New York’s data privacy law. The issue may be particularly interesting to parents as state testing begins this week. The personal data of 52 students taking computer-based tests was compromised last year. This year, 291 districts across the state are expected to have some schools that administer computer-based tests.

Graduation requirements

The board has been slowly carving out new ways that they hope will allow more students to graduate. One option allows students to substitute their fourth required exit exam for a different test in the arts. However, the only exams that are currently approved for this pathway are Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests, which are not available in many schools. At April’s meeting, the board is set to discuss their progress towards creating a more accessible arts exam that more students across New York can use to help them graduate.

Extra credit

The state is looking to combat teacher shortages, and changes to teacher certification may be on the horizon as a result. One item up for discussion looks to expand the number of teachers who can help students with disabilities. The other is focused on early childhood education and literacy. It was not immediately clear how these items would change teacher certifications and how impactful they might be. State education department officials did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The Regents research workgroup, which has been tackling issues of integration and diversity, is also set to meet on Monday. They are expected to discuss an equity indicator that would measure whether schools have similar opportunities for all students to succeed. There are no items posted for this group, so it is unclear what that indicator may look like.

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