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Policy & Initiatives

Policy Reports

Policy Reports

This page features all of Advocates for Children of New York’s most recent policy reports on education issues in New York. Please see our archive for policy reports issued prior to 2010.

Note: All policy reports are in PDF format and will open in a new window. To view PDF files, download the following free software: Get Adobe® Reader®.


CTE report cover

Obstacles and Opportunities: Creating Career and Technical Education Pathways for Students with Disabilities
This December 2016 report analyzes access to high school-level career and technical education (CTE) programs for students with disabilities in New York State. Although students with disabilities made up about 15% of the class that was expected to graduate in 2015, they comprised only 11.6% of students reported to have completed most of a CTE program. Based on data findings and interviews with professionals, special education advocates, and parents of students with disabilities, the paper makes recommendations for addressing barriers to CTE. View report

A is for All report cover

A is for All: Meeting the Literacy Needs of Students with and without Disabilities in the New York City Public Schools
On March 10, 2016,  AFC released this report documenting the need for urgent and sustained action to address the particularly low literacy levels for low-income students with disabilities. The report discusses the key elements for teaching reading effectively to all students, reviews research and case stories indicating that students with a wide range of disabilities are capable of learning to read if they receive appropriate instruction, highlights a number of promising programs in New York City, and provides recommendations for implementing systemic and lasting change. View report

Discipline for Students with Disabilities: Support Rather than Exclusion
This March 2016 white paper discusses the rights of students with disabilities to behavioral supports, and individual and systemic advocacy strategies that provide support for students with disabilities instead of excluding them from school. View white paper 


Civil Rights Suspended report coverCivil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies
This February 2015 report describes findings made from AFC's review of 164 New York City charter school discipline policies obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests. A significant number of City charter schools have discipline policies that fail to meet the legal requirements, leading to violations of students’ and parents’ civil rights. The report includes recommendations for state legislators to consider as they discuss raising the cap on charter schools and ensuring that charter schools serve high-needs students. View report


Sixteen Going on Seventh Grade report cover

Sixteen Going on Seventh Grade: Over-Age Students in New York City Middle Schools
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. This September 2014 policy report brings attention to the unique needs of over-age middle schoolers and provides the New York City Department of Education (DOE) with recommendations for improving outcomes for this population. View report


Rethinking Pathways to Graduation report coverRethinking Pathways to High School Graduation in New York State: Forging New Ways for Students to Show Their Achievement of Standards 
On December 12, 2013, the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma released this report, prepared by Advocates for Children of New York, examining the difficulties that high stakes standardized exit exams pose for many students and addressing the need for more flexible exam requirements and assessment-based pathways to a diploma. The report outlines several recommendations for the State to improve access to a high school diploma while maintaining high standards that ensure college or career readiness. View report

Essential Voices Part 2 report coverEssential Voices, Part II: Engaging Students and Parents in the Implementation of a New Teacher Evaluation System 
This October 2013 policy paper calls on the DOE to include students and parents when putting the new teacher evaluation system into practice by establishing a stakeholder advisory group to provide feedback on the policy implementation process. The paper also provides examples of structures established for this purpose in other cities and states. View report

Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court report coverKeeping Kids In School and Out of Court: Report and Recommendations from the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force 
In the 2011-12 school year, there were 69,694 suspensions and 2,548 arrests and summonses in the New York City public schools. Research and experience have shown that we can keep our schools safe while reducing these high rates of suspensions and arrests, which are linked to high rates of school failure, drop out, and future court involvement. We need effective and fair school discipline, with schools creating and nurturing a climate and culture that promote positive behavior, and we need targeted, consistent collaboration between the education, justice, and social service systems, as well as the communities they serve. This report, released on May 30, 2013, outlines a plan of action for the next mayor to lead a city-wide effort to keep kids in school and out of court. View report


Policy Recommendations: Effective Accountability Mechanisms for New York State's English Language Learners 
On October 1, 2012, AFC and The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) jointly released this policy paper, which sets forth key principles for a sound ELL accountability framework in New York State. View report

Meeting the Educational Needs of Students in the Child Welfare System: Lessons Learned from the Field 
Over the last decade, child welfare agencies and advocates have begun to recognize that the students they serve need access to greater educational opportunities, and that education is critically important to child wellbeing, permanency planning and a successful transition to adulthood. This report from Advocates for Children of New York offers insights and analysis from five years implementing Project Achieve, a program that places AFC staff on site at partner foster care and preventive services agencies in New York City. The report explains how Project Achieve works and examines its long-term impact on the children and families served by these agencies, the people who work there and the city’s child welfare system itself. View report

Essential Voices: Including Student and Parent Input in Teacher Evaluation 
On June 18, 2012, AFC released this policy paper, which makes the case for student and parent input in teacher evaluation in New York City and describes efforts other states and districts are undertaking to incorporate student and/or parent feedback into their own teacher evaluation systems. View report


Out of School and Unprepared: The Need to Improve Support for Students with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood 
In March 2011, the ARISE Coalition, a group of parents, educators, advocates and other supporters of students with disabilities coordinated by Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), released this policy paper calling on New York City and New York State to follow the law with respect to transition planning and to give post-secondary transition for students with special education needs the same high priority they are beginning to give college and career readiness for other students. View report


More Than a Statistic: Faces of the Local Diploma 
On October 28th, 2010, Advocates for Children of New York released a briefing paper which profiles nine young adults who were able to earn their high school diploma only because the local diploma, which the state is phasing out, existed. This paper calls on officials to develop alternative pathways to earn a regular high school diploma. View report

Students with Interrupted Formal Education: A Challenge for the New York City Public Schools
There are more than 15,000 students in the New York City public schools who came to this country having missed two years or more of schooling. These students – known as Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) – present particular challenges for educators trying to raise the 40% on-time graduation rate for English Language Learners (ELLs) in general. This report by Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) examines the data on the SIFE population and profiles twelve immigrant students who should have been identified as SIFE by their schools. The report uses the experiences of the students to show how the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and individual schools try and often fail to meet their needs. View report