2002-02-02 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

York College Conference On Education
By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

York College Conference On Education

The education conference at York College was called to discuss the education of our most valuable asset - our children. The conference was sponsored by Assemblyman William Scarborough.

I attended the conference with my mother, Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, a member of the New York State Board of Regents.

Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey gave the following remarks at the conference -
As the most comprehensive and unified educational system in the United
States, the Board of Regents has for over 200 years been responsible for setting policy and overseeing education for all New Yorkers - from birth to seniors.

Beginning in 1995, the Board of Regents redefined the requirements for high school graduation and set new higher standards for all grade levels, K through 12, and outlined a nine-year phase in plan to meet the goal by 2004.

In 2001, the effects of the higher educational standards are already improving student performance on some of the tests and assessments: a) More students scored 55 or higher on the Regents examinations in 4 out of 5 examinations (English, Global History, U.S. History and Biology) than took the examinations in 1996 and 1997. Ninety percent of the general education students who entered grade 9 in July 1996 had met the graduation requirements in English by the end of their fourth year in high school; b) In the year 1999-2000 more students with disabilities scored 55 or higher on the Regents exams than were even tested in 1997-1998. During that time the number of students with disabilities scoring 55 or higher on Regents examinations in English and Global Studies (history) more than doubled; c) About 79% of the High School graduates of the class of 2000 statewide planned to pursue post-secondary education, compared with 60% in 1980; d) SAT scores are up; e) There were twice as many Black, Asian and Hispanic candidates for the Advanced Placement examinations in 2000 as in 1990; f) In 2001, 59% of the 4th graders in public schools met the standards for English Language Arts, an increase of 10 points over the previous year; g) For fourth graders the results in Math are flat. Math scores are also a challenge for the 8th graders. We all have to work hard to improve this.

Overall, NYS and NYC students are showing progress but much remains to be done to close the gap between those who are succeeding and those schools and students whose performance is low. In District 29 and 27 in South Queens we have both effective schools and low performing schools. I have visited effective schools here in Queens, in Brooklyn and on Long Island and around the State. We know what makes a difference and we must put forth our efforts to ensure that all children have as Judge DeGrasse in his Campaign for Fiscal Equality decision states "a sound basic education". The following domains that contribute to educational success: A) family B) school   C) community and D) resources.

To make the promise of meeting standards a reality for all children, and close the gap, we must look at what was happening on visits to "schools that work".

In schools that do well on standardized tests, members of the school team are all on the same wavelength: a) They are in a "no excuses" era of school reform; b) They believe that all children can learn. High expectations are set for every child; c) They have a strong attendance policy - children can't learn when they are not in school; d) They offer challenging and rich course content; e) They have strong vigorous leaders who are respected by all; f) Every principal and every teacher knows the standards; g) Children are informed of the standards. They are written on bulletin boards and on chalkboards so children are acquainted with the standards; h) All curriculum is aligned to the standards; i) All instruction is aligned to the standards; j) All assessments (tests) are aligned to the standards; k) All parents are informed of the standards. In other words, the school is immersed in the standards; l) Professional development for teachers is also aligned to the standards.

What else works? In effective schools: a) The have a strong enhanced Pre-K program to get the children ready for school; b) They have smaller classes.

When test scores indicate a gap and scores are low there are some strategies that have been proven to work: Academic Intervention Services, after school or before school programs, summer school sessions, parent education in the form of Family Math and Family English.

Remember the old African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child so they all work together as a team and know the only way to walk a mile is to take on step at a time."

Should anyone waiver or challenge the need for standards just listen to the business community. Listen to the employers and employees as to their needs in order to fill their current employment needs.

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