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Gabriel needed an appropriate placement and special education services for kindergarten.

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9.15.2014 | This afternoon, AFC will be testifying at a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Behavioral Health System Planning Forum on the need for DOHMH to work with the DOE to improve the mental health system for New York City’s students so they can stay and succeed in school. In our testimony, we request that DOHMH partner with the DOE to expand school-based mental health clinics and the number of mobile crisis response teams available for public school students. We also recommend that DOHMH provide training from experienced mental health professionals to school staff around trauma-informed care, positive behavior supports, and de-escalation techniques that will enable school staff to respond appropriately to students in crisis. View testimony

9.10.2014 | More than 50,000 middle school students – a quarter of the students in New York City’s public middle schools -- have been left back at least once, and more than 8,500 students have been left back at least 3 times. Despite their significant academic and social-emotional needs, there are fewer than 450 seats in programs for over-age middle school students in the City’s traditional public and charter schools.

Today Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) is releasing a report, Sixteen Going on Seventh Grade: Over-Age Students in New York City Middle Schools, to bring attention to the unique needs of over-age middle schoolers and to provide the New York City Department of Education (DOE) with recommendations for improving outcomes for this population.

“Thousands of these students have been retained repeatedly, but without the additional support they needed to move on to the next grade,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “They’re stuck in limbo until many of them give up and drop out. Researchers have documented that dropout rates are two to eleven times higher among previously-retained students than their on-track peers. As the DOE focuses long-overdue attention on middle schools, we need new strategies to restore educational opportunity for the students struggling repeatedly to meet grade-level standards.”

AFC is also releasing a new publication for families, Guide for Over-Age Middle School Studentswhich explains the legal rights of NYC students and describes programs for over-age middle schoolers.

View the press release
Read the policy report 
Read AFC's Guide for Over-Age Middle School Students

9.03.2014 | As the new school year begins, we celebrate the monumental achievement of having more than 50,000 children enrolled in Pre-K in New York City. Research shows that low-income children who participate in high-quality early childhood education programs are less likely to be retained a grade in school, be placed in special education classes, or drop out of school. Children have only one opportunity to go to Pre-K. We need to make sure that this opportunity is available to as many children as possible. View statement as pdf

8.15.2014 | The Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Math scores released Thursday show only limited progress for New York City’s students. In particular, students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELLs), who are some of our most vulnerable students, continue to be left behind their peers. The wide persistent gap between the scores of students with disabilities and ELLs with their peers must be addressed. There needs to be a more dedicated effort to offer increased instructional supports and build school staff capacity to support students with disabilities and ELLs as New York continues the rollout of the Common Core standards.

Beyond instructional supports, the New York City Department of Education must begin to think more expansively about providing students with disabilities access to the Common Core curriculum through the use of Assistive Technology and instructional materials accessible through a variety of formats – written, spoken and visual.

In addition, New York State must offer assessments that more accurately reflect instruction received by ELLs. ELLs who have arrived within the past two years should be exempt from participating in ELA assessments as they receive instruction intended to acquire sufficient knowledge of the English language. ELLs enrolled in bilingual education programs should have access to Native Language Arts (NLA) assessments which are more accurate measures of growth than ELA assessments. View statement

8.13.2014 | AFC has updated our start-of-school fact sheet for families of students with disabilities, which covers concerns that typically come up at this time of year, such as what to do if a child does not yet have a school assignment or the school assigned says they cannot serve the child’s needs; how to find an accessible school; and arranging for specialized transportation. View the fact sheet in English and Spanish.

07.29.2014 | Yesterday AFC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education regarding disproportionality under Section 618(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Our comments focus on racial disproportionality in the identification, placement, and discipline of children with disabilities in New York City. Both citywide data and AFC’s on-the-ground experiences indicate that New York City disproportionately identifies Black students with an Emotional Disturbance (ED) classification and students classified as ED are much more likely to be removed from mainstream environments and placed in highly segregated settings. Students of color, students with disabilities, and students of color with disabilities are also disproportionately suspended from school, and New York City has not consistently provided IDEA protections to the students with disabilities it suspends. View comments

07.18.2014 | AFC has a newly updated "Know Your Rights" guidebook for immigrant families in the New York City public schools! The guide is available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu, and covers topics such as enrolling in school, services for English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and parents' rights to interpretation and translation.

For families seeking one-on-one assistance on educational issues, AFC's Helpline is staffed by education specialists who are fluent in Spanish and Chinese. We also have a telephone interpretation service for callers of other languages. This flyer provides instructions in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu on how to call the Helpline and request an interpreter.

07.16.2014 | Today AFC is testifying before the New York State Assembly Committee on Education regarding Career and Technical Education (CTE) in New York State (NYS). To respond to the graduation crisis in NYS, we must create both instructional and assessment pathways that take into account the postsecondary aspirations and learning styles of all students. We believe CTE can play a major role in this endeavor, especially as part of a broader system of multiple pathways to graduation. Unfortunately, many students have been limited in gaining access to CTE programs, particularly students with disabilities and English Language Learners. It is our hope that A.8189A/S.5966A begins to open doors to quality CTE programs for all students. Our testimony discusses considerations this legislation must address. View testimony

06.23.2014 | The graduation rates released today show little progress for the State as a whole, with a disturbing decrease in the percentage of English Language Learners receiving a diploma. With 25% of students in New York State leaving high school empty-handed, we have a graduation crisis that will require creativity and commitment to resolve. Although we need to improve college and career readiness for students already graduating, we cannot continue to leave so many students behind.

While strengthening our schools from pre-kindergarten through middle school is critically important, the State desperately needs also to develop new pathways to graduation that open doors to post-secondary education and jobs for students who are already in high school and not currently likely to graduate. These pathways must be accessible to the wide range of students – including English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and students in traditionally underserved communities – and also provide alternative ways for students who do not do well on standardized tests to show that they have mastered the material. View AFC's full statement 

06.12.2014 | AFC submitted testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Education regarding the proposed bill to equip all exit doors in elementary school buildings and buildings accommodating District 75 programs with an alarm system. We support the targeted use of alarms, but only as a piece of a larger plan. To be successful, any move to protect students from elopement will also need to include targeted training of school staff, improved communication within each school building and a variety of carefully thought out preventive measures. View testimony