Subcommittee on State Aid


Jean C. Stevens


Regents Proposal on State Aid to School Districts for 2007-08


May 1, 2006


Goals 2 and 5






Issue for Discussion


What guidance does the Subcommittee have for staff for further development of the Regents 2007-08 State Aid Proposal?


Reason(s) for Consideration


Review of policy.


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the Regents Subcommittee on State Aid at its May Meeting.


Procedural History


The Regents began development in February 2006 of their 2007-08 State Aid to Schools proposal with a review of the Executive proposal on State Aid. In March 2006, the Subcommittee discussed goals and general directions.


Background Information


The Subcommittee has asked for a review of the laws recently enacted relating to State Aid to school districts and a summary of the Regents proposal that has been advanced for three years (Attachment A).This will be followed by a review and discussion of a draft introduction to the Regents State Aid proposal for 2007-08 (Attachment B.)




Staff recommends that the Subcommittee provide guidance to staff for further development of the proposal.


Timetable for Implementation


Staff will present the Regents conceptual proposal on State Aid to the full Board for approval at the September meeting.Staff will present the detailed proposal, with a recommended dollar increase and a recommended overall distribution, to the Regents in October for approval.




 Attachment A

Attachment B


Introduction to the Regents Proposal


Many Students are Meeting Higher Standards


A.    More general education graduates are reaching higher standards.The number of diplomas awarded and the number of Regents diplomas awarded have increased over time.These successes show that many students are responding to higher standards.


B.    Students of all types and from all places have improved.The Education Trust reports that, based on the latest NAEP fourth grade tests, New York is third in reading growth for African-American students and second in reading growth for Latino students from 1998 (when standards were raised and the new tests began) to 2005.


Despite These Successes, New Data Reveal Unacceptable Gaps


A.    Statewide for all groups of students only 64 percent completed a diploma after four years.That is, 36 percent of students did not complete a diploma after four years.Although the number increased to 71 percent after five years that still left 29 out of every hundred children not graduating.


B.    The graduation rate of all students in urban high need school districts was low, generally ranging from 43 to 58 percent after four years.


C.    For Black students, 53 percent graduated after five years.Forty-seven percent do not.


D.    For Hispanic students, 49 percent graduated after five years.Fifty-one percent do not.


E.    Less than 30 percent of English language learners graduated after four years.


F.    Males were less likely than females to graduate and more likely to dropout after five years.


G.   Only 37 percent of pupils with disabilities graduated after four years.



Achievement Problems are Linked to Student Needs and Resources


A.    Achievement problems are most likely to occur when student needs are high and resources are scarce.Recent data on high schools provide an example of this.


B.    For example, 127 high schools from 12 high need school districts have graduation rates under 70 percent.Other districts with high student needs and limited resources have similar challenges at elementary, middle and high school levels.


C.    Approximately 80 percent of these high schools were in New York City.


D.    The five-year average graduation rate of these schools was 56 percent compared with 70 percent for all public schools.


E.    These schools had greater student poverty and more limited English proficient students.


F.    They had fewer certified teachers, fewer books and computers, and more students repeating ninth grade.


What Must Be Done?


A.Funding.The Regents State Aid proposal will continue to advocate for the State funding needed for all pupils to succeed.State Aid to school districts should vary with each districtís fiscal capacity, student needs and regional cost differences and should provide the opportunity for each student to meet State learning standards.

1.     A statewide approach. Providing State Aid based on needs will benefit the 127 high schools with poor graduation results.It will also benefit other schools and districts with similar needs who are at risk of school failure.

2.     Avoid rewarding failure.A fundamental rule of school finance is honored in this system.Funding is based on factors outside a districtís control (such as student poverty, income and property value of residents, and variation in costs by region).This avoids the public policy conflict of rewarding failure when aid is based on student achievement results.

For example, in 1993 the State eliminated the Pupils with Compensatory Education Needs program which provided state funds for schools with poor pupil performance, and discontinued the funding when schools improved.In its place, lawmakers enacted Extraordinary Needs Aid which allocated resources on the basis of poverty, limited English proficiency and geographic sparsity, need factors outside the control of school districts.This historical precedent reminds us of the importance of focusing aid on need factors outside the control of school districts, while focusing State oversight on schools with poor student achievement.

B.    Accountability.Funding is only one part of the answer.While many schools and districts with moderate student achievement problems will over time succeed in providing all students with the opportunity to meet State learning standards, another group has too far to go.If these schools continue to improve at the rate of the past decade, they will not be successful in another decade.The challenge is for the State to speed up their rate of improvement to close the achievement gap.The persistent nature and degree of school failure requires intense and focused intervention at State, regional, district and school levels. New Yorkís system of accountability for student results must be complemented by greater oversight by the State Education Department.Aspects of this oversight include:

1.     A USNY focus: bringing partners together in the education system to contribute to closing the student achievement gap: elementary and secondary school educators and administrators, parents and students, colleges and universities, libraries, museums, the professions, and vocational rehabilitation.

2.     Setting high school graduation targets.

3.     Holding school boards accountable for meeting these targets.

4.     Checking teacher qualifications and ordering changes where necessary.

5.     Strengthening school improvement and other reforms in schools with the lowest achievement.

6.     Ensuring the safety of students and staff.

7.     Strengthening audits to ensure the fiscal integrity of school districts to educate all students.

C.    Simultaneously Strengthen Oversight and Needs-Based Funding

1.     The Regents will make two complementary proposals to take the education system to the next level of success.

a.     The first is a budget proposal to strengthen accountability by increasing the Departmentís oversight of failing schools. The proposal will include requests for additional staff and resources to oversee failing schools.

b.     The second is to craft detailed recommendations concerning the funding needed to give all students the opportunity to meet State learning standards, the focus of this State Aid proposal.The balance of this paper will discuss what this entails.

What Has the Regents Proposal Accomplished?


I.                This is the fourth year of a five-year proposal recommending enactment of a simplified, success-based foundation funding formula for school districts.Accomplishments of the Regents proposal include:


A.    More aid has been directed to high need school districts each year than would have been if the laws were continued unchanged.

B.    A statewide dialogue about closing the student achievement gap and funding high need school districts has occurred.

C.    The Regents contributed to discussion of the special referee panel in the CFE case.


What should be the approach for 2007-08?