Regents to Vote on Proposal to Reduce Extra Support for Students Struggling Academically

On September 16, 2015, the New York State Board of Regents will vote on a state education department proposal to extend for another year school districts’ “flexibility” to deny extra academic supports to some students who scored below proficiency on state tests and normally would be entitled to extra help. This infringes on the right of all students at risk of low academic achievement to additional services and supports to ensure they can meet state standards.

New York students who score below proficiency on state tests (i.e., children who get 1s and 2s)–as well as students who are at risk of not meeting such standards–have a right, according to state education regulations, to extra supports to ensure they succeed. All of these students are entitled to “academic intervention services” (AIS), which may include tutoring, small-group instruction, or even an extra class, and/or counseling and study-skills help.

For the last two years, since the adoption of the Common Core-aligned assessments, the Regents have voted to limit the number of students entitled to extra support.
This extra support is vital to help many children progress at grade level and graduate on time. Such extra help is also part of the “expanded platform of services” that the court in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) litigation said was necessary to provide “at risk” students a meaningful opportunity for a “sound basic education.”

Resources for sufficient, effective academic intervention services are already in short supply. A Campaign for Educational Equity study  conducted during the 2011-12 school year uncovered widespread deficiencies in schools’ ability to provide these supports in high-need districts around the state (see pages 38-40). The state learning standards that year were lower, and, yet, even then, in every single school in our study, students struggling academically were being shortchanged on extra support.

Instead of giving school districts permission to provide needed extra help to fewer students, the NYSED and Regents should insist that currently inadequate efforts be improved and expanded, and the state should take the lead in ensuring that districts have the funding they need to pay for effective academic and and support services.

If you believe that New York students who need extra help in order to meet state standards should receive it, there is no time to waste: email or call 518-474-5889 and encourage the Regents to vote against the proposed amendment to AIS requirements.