NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... August 2014

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

In This Issue

In the Spotlight
In the Spotlight...
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State Releases 50% of Questions from 2014 Grades 3 - 8 Assessments

The NYS Education Department released approximately 50 percent of the questions used on the 2014 Grades 3 - 8 assessments (a 100 percent increase in the number released for the 2013 tests). The released questions will help students, families, educators and the public understand the breadth and depth with which the state tests measure college and career readiness.

The released questions represent a range of difficulty and illustrate how student performance is assessed in accordance with the learning expectations and instructional shifts established by the New York State Common Core Learning Standards. Released questions can help inform classroom instruction and local assessment practices.

For each released multiple-choice question, explanations are provided, detailing how the question measures the intended learning standard and why the right answer is correct and why wrong answers are incorrect. For constructed response questions, several examples of student work are provided, with explanations of why the responses received the scores they did.

To read the full article, click here.

The released items are posted here:

RESOURCES to better understand (and teach) the Common Core math standards:
Math is cumulative. To visualize how one component of math builds upon another, go to: There are many commonalities found between math, science and ELA. This Venn diagram is a visual representation:
Commonalities between math, science and ELA
Eureka math has wonderful, colorful summary pages to help in understanding math concepts by grade level (K-5) that are available for parents and teachers. Click here for more.

For understanding the math parent report, click here.

A parent toolkit and resources can be found here.

For NYS Standards (Common Core) required fluencies by grade level, click here.

Further resources can be found at:

New Special Education Documents Now Available

Student in wheelchair boarding a school bus
New York State Ed has released several documents on their website that apply to special education issues.

The first answers parents’ questions about the Common Core and how it will impact their kids who have disabilities. Click here.

The next document refers to the responsibilities of the Committee on Special Education (CSE) to create IEPs that will help students with disabilities meet the higher academic standards. Click here.

There is also a brochure that describes what the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) is and how it will be implemented for students with significant disabilities. Click here.

Transition is not a dirty word despite what is felt by many. Disability.gov is a great resource for anyone interested in special education. They have a lot of information on a variety of topics, including a guide to transition planning. Click here.

NYS Sends Letters to Insurers Regarding the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

Mental Health Parity
The letters, sent on June 4, 2014, provide guidance to insurers about the impact of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) on New York’s insurance market. MHPAEA requires that plans that offer coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services provide comparable coverage to other physical health services. The letter references the state law that reinforces MHPAEA, including the requirement that all insurance policies issued in the state offer comparable coverage for mental health, substance abuse and physical health.

The letter also provides guidance on benefit classifications, financial requirements and quantitative treatment limitations, out-of-network coverage, non-quantitative treatment limitations, and more.

Insurers will be required to cover intensive residential and youth residential; methadone clinics and Suboxone will be covered as part of the pharmacy benefit. The state also developed model contract language to assist insurers with the new requirements.

Read the letter to insurers here.

Read the model contract language here.

Read NY’s legislation here.

NYS Passes Policies Related to Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse

Drug Abuse
On June 24, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a package of bills responding to the increase in heroin and prescription drug abuse.

The new policies are varied and cover a wide range of issues, including access to treatment, the illegal distribution of drugs, overdose reversal and public education.

The newly-enacted policies focus on:
  • Improving Addiction Treatment
  • Increasing Access to Overdose Rescue Kits
  • Educating the Public about Prescription Opioid and Heroin Use
  • Controlling the Supply of Illegal Substances
Read the press release by clicking here.

Read the legislation by clicking here.

NYS Develops Plan to Collaborate with SUNY University System on Substance Abuse

Governor Cuomo announced a partnership with the State University of New York (SUNY) university system to address prescription opioid and heroin abuse on college campuses. The SUNY system is made up of 64 university centers, colleges and community college campuses.

Read the press release by clicking here.

NYS Office of Children and Family Services Human Trafficking Website

Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking is becoming more prevalent in New York State. The Office of Children and Family Services defines two different types of trafficking:

Sex Trafficking – NYS Definition: Profiting from prostitution by providing drugs, using false or misleading statements, withholding or destroying government documents, debt servicing, force, a plan or pattern of coercive conduct, or other acts. Under the Federal definition of sex trafficking, victims under age 18 are automatically victims regardless of whether or not force, fraud or coercion is present.

Labor Trafficking – NYS Definition: Compelling or inducing another to engage in labor, or recruiting, enticing, harboring or transporting another by providing drugs, withholding or destroying government documents, debt servicing, force, or a plan or pattern of coercive conduct.

Counties across New York State have proposals for programs in place via the Safe Harbor Project, established in 2008. For more information and for services available in your community, click here.

August 2014
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In the Spotlight

Teacher Tenure, Retention and Evaluation

We are hearing a great deal about teachers and tenure; last-in, first-out (retention); APPR and so on. As if the politicization of Common Core hasn’t been contentious enough, we are now confronted by a new challenge: competent delivery of classroom instruction. It is only natural that parents want assurance that the person spending upwards of 900 hours each school year with their child is qualified, competent and compassionate. PTA has long recognized the vital role that teachers and administrators play in the lives of their students, not only in their academic development but also in their social, emotional and civic development.

In light of today’s challenges to the education profession exploring the relationship in context of who we are as an association is crucial for our mutual understanding and future advocacy. One of the objects of PTA is to bring into closer relation the home and the school. That parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.

Click here to read more.

The US Department of Education Strengthens Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program

Student LoansAs part of an effort to ensure more families can afford a higher education and promote the responsible use of taxpayer dollars, the US Department of Education proposed today new regulations that will update eligibility standards and improve access for student and parent borrowers under the federal Direct PLUS loan program. The current adverse credit history regulations have not been updated since the Direct lending program was established in 1994.

“The Obama Administration is committed to keeping college accessible and affordable and helping families make thoughtful and informed choices to fund a higher education in today’s economy,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These changes allow us to continue to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and open the doors of college to ensure all students have the opportunity to walk through them.”

For more information on the proposed changes and regulations, click here.

Obama Administration Approves NCLB Flexibility Requests for Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina

NCLB FlexThe US Department of Education extended New York’s NCLB waiver extension at the end of July. Commissioner King had proposed changes which included assessing students with disabilities based on their instructional level as opposed to their chronological age.

As expected, those provisions were not included in the extension. The federal government has concerns about holding special education students to lower standards than their typically developing peers.

The press release can be read by clicking here.

Hurricane Readiness Websites

It is that time of year again and communities need to be prepared in case of natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Here are some preparedness links to help communities:

Back To School Meal Standards

Healthy School Lunch
The USDA is gearing up for exciting new improvements, designed to make the 2014-2015 school year even healthier for our nation’s future leaders. It’s a commitment rooted in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. In that legislation, USDA is directed to update the school meals to reflect the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Click here for more info.

For a Fact Sheet/Bullet Points For Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act School Meals Implementation, click here.

Click here for the link to the smart snacks brochure.

New York State Education Department Child Nutrition Knowledge Center

Girl eating at schoolThe Child Nutrition Knowledge Center has numerous resources including webinars, food service, smart snacks and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Click here to read more.

Privacy and Transparency: New Resources for Schools and Districts

Parents and Teacher with Computer
We all know how important it is for parents to have open lines of communication with their children’s school. Parents want to be champions for their children and protect their interests. To do this, they need information.

When it comes to information that is stored digitally, parents often ask questions such as:
  • What information are you collecting about my child?
  • Why do you need that information, and what do you use it for?
  • How do you safeguard my child’s information?
Click here to read the full article.

Psychological First Aid

Psychological First Aid
Psychological First Aid, also known as PFA, is an intervention model to help people of all ages deal with trauma-related stress. It does not assume that anyone that suffers something traumatic will develop mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders.

There are many different reactions that people can have after an emergency. Sometimes these reactions can lead to distress that can get in the way of proper coping. If needed, PFA can help people cope with their reactions and recover.

If you want to read more, click here.

Health Department Announces Updated School Immunization Requirements

The NYS Department of Health (DOH) announced it has revised immunization requirements for school attendance to meet updated national standards.

The updated requirements do not add any new vaccines for school entry, but update the number of doses required and the minimum intervals between doses. The new requirements went into effect July 1, 2014. For more information, click here.
Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2014 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings.

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