Friday Rundown 10.3.14

A good Friday morning to you – the first Friday in October! Here’s what you may have missed in education headlines this week.

State officials discuss changes in Regents format (Glens Falls Post Star)

Assemblyman James Skoufis: Stop balancing budgets on the backs of our children (Skoufis press release)

Cuomo announces $22.4 million education grant for NYS (

New York tax system is archaic (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

State judge tosses challenge to NY tax cap (Press Connects)

How much time will new Common Core tests take kids to finish? Quite a lot. (Washington Post)

Superintendents share classroom tech successes (Capital New York)

Rethinking the 
high school diploma (Education Next)

In your opinion: New school snacks will help children (The Daily Star)

U.S. Department of Education announces 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools (

18 NY schools awarded national “Blue Ribbon” status

On Sept. 30, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized 337 schools – 18 from New York – as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2014 based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

The Department will honor 287 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 10-11 in Washington, D.C.

“These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education—that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative, and challenging learning environments,” Secretary Duncan said.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

All schools are recognized in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates are also at the highest levels.
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates for each subgroup are at high levels.

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student,” Duncan said.

2014 New York Blue Ribbon Schools

Voorheesville Elementary School
Voorheesville Central School District
Principal: Thomas Reardon

Ledgeview Elementary School
Clarence Central School District
Principal: Keith E. Kuwik

Cobbles Elementary School
Penfield Central School District
Principal: Donald Bavis

Genesee Community Charter School
Principal: Lisa A. Wing

Munsey Park Elementary School
Manhasset Union Free School District
Principal: Jean Kendall

Glenwood Landing Elementary School
North Shore Central School District
Principal: Bridget Finder

PS 150
New York City Geographic District # 2
Principal: Jennifer Bonnet

South Bronx Classical Charter School
Principal: Lester Long

PS 11 Purvis J Behan
New York City Geographic District #13
Principal: Alonta Wrighton

PS 254 Dag Hammarskjold
New York City Geographic District #22
Principal: Linda Alhonote

Queens College School For Math, Science & Technology New York City Geographic District #25
Principal: Helene Jacob

PS 205 Alexander Graham Bell
New York City Geographic District #26
Principal: Karen Scott-Piazza

Deerfield Elementary School
Whitesboro CSD
Principal: Kelli McGowan

Enders Road Elementary School
Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District
Principal: Deborah Capri

Franklin Avenue School
Pearl River Union Free School District
Principal: Maureen Alaimo

Hillside Elementary School
Niskayuna Central School District
Principal: Shireen Fasciglione

East Moriches Elementary School
East Moriches Union Free School District
Principal: Charles T. Russo

Carrie E. Tompkins School
Croton-Harmon UFSD
Principal: Kelly Maloney

SFOS: Reinstated tutoring program focuses on math support

Stories_schoolsPamela Kostbar-Jarvis sends an email to her fellow Cobleskill-Richmondville High School teachers every evening.

It’s a moderately sized list that she’d like to see become even bigger.

The list contains the names of high school students who have sought her help for various problems in math during that school day.

Seven years ago, enrollment fluctuations allowed the district to pull a teacher from the classroom to implement CREW – Cobleskill-Richmondville Educational Workplace, which offered widespread tutor availability during the school day. However, when enrollment increased several years ago, the program was halted to accommodate the need for more classroom staff.


Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis

For the 2014-15 school year, the district is able to bring CREW back because the high school’s teacher-student ratio is at a point where the program could be restarted. Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis, who has taught all levels but calculus at Cobleskill-Richmondville, is available to help (along with a student teacher) in Room 117.

She is currently visiting each high school math class to introduce herself. Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis is careful not to make her subject appear more valuable than any other discipline. She doesn’t want to sound like math is the be-all, end-all of a student’s day.

But amid a national trend of lagging math and science aptitude, she points out that getting students ahead of the curve – which often means catching them up now – is critical right away, even well before college years.

“Almost everybody requires an extra boost when it comes to math,” Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis said as three students sat nearby, getting assistance from a student teacher during the day’s final period. “That’s the reality of it.”

Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis’ big concern is students falling behind, which many national resources point out will begin to limit college eligibility – especially for courses or majors that students may have their hearts set on when they leave high school.

She teaches more traditional math classes during three periods, but is otherwise available to assist students in a myriad of math topics during periods 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9. In-school tutoring is important as students may be too busy after the final bell to seek help.

Signing out of study hall is an option. Though, tricksters beware: that’s in part why the CREW organizer checks in with her colleagues. She’ll ensure students are where they say they are going. So far, that’s hardly been an issue.

“CREW works because it is a choice given to students,” Principal Melissa Ausfeld said. “They are the ones making the decision to receive extra help, and they get to choose the time and the topic they work in. Any time that a student is given a choice for anything, the buy-in is greater.”

More than anything, Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis likes to add names to the list of attendees, whether they’re getting help for five minutes or nearly 45. That’s why she sends the nightly email to update the other teachers, especially her math colleagues.

Her phrase: “Energy begets energy.”

Meaning: She gets pumped up by seeing students work hard to improve and even more excited at seeing their pleasure with the results.

“It’ll take time to build CREW Math up,” Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis said. “It may take the first marking period, but I think it’ll catch on.”

Cuomo announces $22.4 million education grant for NYS

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that New York state has received a $22.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant will help low-income and at-risk students receive college readiness preparation and support beginning in seventh grade and continuing through high school.

GEAR UP will raise students’ awareness of college and financial aid options, increase participation in academically challenging coursework, and support them through completion of their college freshman year.

“By providing more young New Yorkers with the tools for academic achievement now, their chances for future success dramatically increase, benefiting them and the state as a whole,” Cuomo said.

Participating school districts will also have the opportunity to count their students among the thousands who prepare for high skills jobs of the future through the NYS Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools program – which combines high school, college and career training focused on the knowledge and skills students need for science, technology, engineering and math careers, targeted to at-risk, disadvantaged students.

Changes in the pathway to graduation could be on horizon

State officials are considering alternative ways for students to get a high school diploma, such as getting an industry certification.

New York is one of 24 states that utilizes “exit exams” by requiring students to be proficient on specific standardized tests in order to graduate from high school. To earn a Regents diploma, students need to score 65 or higher on the five core-subject exams (English, math, global history, U.S. History and science). The Board of Regents has been developing a plan that would allow NY’s students to substitute one of the social studies Regents with a “Pathway” program and exam in arts, career and technical education, the humanities or STEM (science, technology and engineering and math.)

Why are the Regents considering the switch? To quote Cosimo Tangorra, NY’s deputy commissioner for P-12 education, “The path to college isn’t the only path that’s going to lead to happiness.”

Read the article here.

What do you think about the possible new pathways option?

SFOS: Warwick School District to host Google for Education Summit

Stories_schoolsThe first annual Hudson Valley Google for Education Summit will be hosted by the Warwick Valley Central School District at Kings Elementary School on October 23 & 24, 2014. This two day event focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education.

The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Education Trainers, practicing administrators, technology specialists and teachers who have made Google Apps for Education the foundation of their collaboration and instruction. Open to all, the programs are designed for teachers, administrators, tech directors, library media specialists, tech support staff and anyone who is interested in learning about using Google Apps for Education to support student learning.

Sessions include two keynote presentations and two full days of informative breakouts, cutting-edge demonstrations and hands-on workshops led by experienced and knowledgeable professional developers, a demo slam competition and closing capstone session.

“The Google Apps for Education Summit is important because it represents best practices in using Google Apps tools to support instruction in relevant and engaging ways,” Warwick Valley CSD director of professional learning Jennifer Cronk said.

All presenters are Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Trainers or teachers with local success stories.

This event is jointly presented by the Warwick Valley Central School District and the EdTech Team.

“This is the first time a Google Summit has been held in the Hudson Valley, making it much easier for area educators to attend,” Cronk said. “This is significant, since many of the region’s public schools are currently using Google Apps or considering it for the future.”

For Summit and registration information, go to

SFOS: Scientific research, students and sports!

Stories_schoolsToday’s “Stories From Our Schools” edition comes to you from Guilderland Elementary School. On Friday, September 12, the entire fifth grade class at GES participated in a variety of outdoor activities focused on using the systems of the human body. The event served as a kick-off for a year-long initiative that includes a grant-based research project with members of the University at Albany Department of Educational Theory and Practice.

Read more about this cool project that combines scientific research with students and sports.

Hudson Valley schools to stand up for fair funding Sept. 30

FF_rally14_for webAfter a successful advocacy campaign last fall, school districts in the Hudson Valley are at it again.

On Sept. 30, school leaders, boards of educations and community advocacy groups from districts in Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties, will seek to get the attention of local legislators in the Hudson Valley region by holding an advocacy event aiming to do away with the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

The Regional Advocacy Event: “Fair Funding for Our Schools”, will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Middletown High School in Middletown, NY. The event, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Committee for Fair Funding for Our Schools, will feature Billy Easton, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education.

The GEA was first introduced for the 2010-11 fiscal year by then-Governor Paterson as a way to help close New York’s then $10 billion budget deficit. Under the legislation, a portion of the funding shortfall at the state level is divided among all school districts throughout the state and reflected as a reduction in school district state aid. The GEA is a negative number, money that is deducted from the aid originally due to the district. And it means that many school districts have a gaping hole in their budget due to this reduction in aid.

Since the introduction of the GEA, New York schools have lost $7.7 billion in state aid.

“We have a long way to go to guarantee our children’s education will be funded fairly and adequately,” a statement reads on the Fair Funding for Our Schools website. “…Our collective efforts will put politicians on notice that we are unified and we aren’t going away.”

All area parents, community members, taxpayers, educators, and business leaders are invited to attend the event.

If you are planning on attending on Sept. 30, you can connect with us on social media that night and tell us what is happening from your perspective. Tweet us your photos and updates – @edspeaksny, #NYSchoolsinPeril

Ed Speaks has a number of advocacy resources available for you. Check them out here.

AQE launches new campaign: #WeCantWait

#WeCantWait is a powerful statewide photo campaign started by the Alliance for Quality Education, powered by parents, students, teachers and other advocates who believe in the need for urgent action to make funding New York’s public schools a priority.   Here at Ed Speaks we’ve written numerous times about how many NY schools are systematically underfunded, and the #WeCantWait campaign is showing exactly what’s missing from our schools as a result.

What a great idea! Here’s info from the AQE web site on how you can get involved:

Take a #WeCantWait selfie

  • 1) Make a #WeCantWait sign and write why you can’t wait for New York to fully fund public schools. 
(tell the world what your school is missing because of funding cuts).
  • 2) Share that picture across social media with #WeCantWait and at @AQE_NY!

 or email it to
  • 3) Challenge your friends and family to take their own #WeCantWait selfies to support our schools!


Can praise be bad?

Recent research shows that praising kids for their intelligence or ability can backfire, causing them to give up more easily when the work becomes hard. 

According to Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford who has been researching this specific topic for many years:

“What we’ve shown is that when you praise someone, say, ‘You’re smart at this,’ the next time they struggle, they think they’re not. It’s really about praising the process they engage in, not how smart they are or how good they are at it, but taking on difficulty, trying many different strategies, sticking to it and achieving over time.”

Apparently the research shows that this type of praise can have more of a negative impact on young girls, and seems particularly damaging when it is applied to math.  Check out the whole article.