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Paige’s Story

Paige, a bright third grade student on the autism spectrum, sat at home for nearly two months waiting for a school placement that would meet her needs. 

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News & Media


12.12.2013 | A new report, Rethinking Pathways to High School Graduation in New York State: Forging New Ways for Students to Show Their Achievement of Standards [PDF], was released today by The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, prepared by Advocates for Children of New York. The report examines the difficulties that high stakes standardized exit exams pose for many students and addresses 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. Our recommendations, described in detail in the report, are as follows:

  • Reduce the Number of Exit Exams Required to Graduate with a Regents Diploma from 5 to 3. 
  • Develop a Pathway to Graduation That Allows All Students to Demonstrate Their Knowledge and Skills through State-Developed and/or Approved Performance-Based Assessments. 
  • Build More Flexibility and Support into the Current System to Make it More Accessible to Students.
  • Ensure Transparency in Communications and Monitoring of all Aspects of the Multiple Pathways System. 

“We strongly support high standards of student achievement. However, we believe that the State’s focus on high stakes standardized exit exams creates unnecessary barriers to graduation for many students. As demonstrated nationwide, states requiring exit exams have lower 4-year graduation rates than those that do not,” states Abja Midha, Project Director for Advocates for Children of New York.

Statewide, about 48,000 students in each entering 9th grade class are at risk of not graduating. In NYS, over 25% of high school students fail to graduate within four years. For students of color, English language learners (ELLs), students with disabilities, and students who are economically disadvantaged, this percentage is even higher.

The report’s recommendations do not seek to dilute standards or remove rigor from the high school experience. Introducing additional flexibility to the high school assessment structure simply recognizes that students may better demonstrate their knowledge outside of a standardized exam setting.

Read entire report [PDF]

12.09.2013 | While all students, with and without special education needs, may apply to any NYC public school, there are some things students with special needs and their families should be aware of regarding the processes of applying to middle schools in choice districts and high schools around the city. This new fact sheet offers pointers to help families through the process. View fact sheet [PDF

12.04.2013 | Children born in 2009 are eligible to enter kindergarten in September 2014, and there are steps that families should take starting now to prepare for this important milestone. We hope these resources will help families navigate the transition to kindergarten! 

Kindergarten Admissions Process 

All families with children born in 2009 are encouraged to participate in the DOE’s kindergarten admissions process. For the first time, this year, families can apply to up to 20 schools using one application form. They can complete this application form online, over the phone, or in person at a borough enrollment office between January 13th and February 14th. Families should no longer go to individual schools to apply to kindergarten. For more information, please review and share AFC’s Kindergarten Admissions Guide [PDF].

Transition to Kindergarten for Students with Disabilities

In addition to applying to kindergarten, families with children with IEPs born in 2009 will be participating in a second process—development of kindergarten IEPs. For comprehensive information about the transition to kindergarten for students with disabilities, please review and share AFC’s Turning 5 Guide, available in both English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF]. Please make sure you are using the December 2013 version of these guides. If you viewed last year’s guides, you may need to clear your browser history to download the current versions.

From now through December 19th, the DOE is holding Kindergarten Orientation Meetings for families of students with disabilities born in 2009. We encourage families to attend! The schedule is available on the DOE's website

We also encourage you to review and share the DOE’s kindergarten materials: Kindergarten Admissions for All Students and Transition to Kindergarten for Students with Disabilities. Both websites have very helpful information for families of children born in 2009.

If you have questions about the transition to kindergarten, call our Education Helpline between 10 am and 4 pm, Monday through Thursday: (866) 427-6033.

11.25.2013 | Today AFC testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education, arguing that high-stakes standardized exit exams create unnecessary barriers to graduation. Without a high school diploma, students are denied access to college and careers. Our testimony recommends that the State (1) reduce the number of Regents exams required to graduate from 5 to 3; and (2) develop a pathway to graduation that allows all students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through performance-based assessments in lieu of the Regents exams. View testimony [PDF]

10.31.2013 | The implementation of a new system for evaluating the 75,000 teachers who work in New York City’s public schools is a massive undertaking – one that will change how principals use their time, how teachers direct their efforts in the classroom, and, ultimately, how students experience school. As the intended beneficiaries of this major reform effort, students and their families have an enormous stake in its success. Today AFC released a policy paper, Essential Voices, Part II: Engaging Students and Parents in the Implementation of a New Teacher Evaluation System, which calls on the DOE to include students and parents when putting the new 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. Read the paper [PDF

10.28.2013 | This afternoon, AFC is testifying before the General Welfare and Women’s Issues Committees of the New York City Council regarding the implementation of EarlyLearn NYC. We are discussing the importance of increased funding to ensure that every child can participate in a high-quality early childhood education program. View testimony [PDF

10.25.2013 | This afternoon, AFC is testifying before the Education Committee of the New York City Council regarding the Department of Education's special education reform. Our school system needs to change how it educates students with disabilities; however, change will not yield positive results unless it is well executed and adequately financed. Our testimony calls on the DOE to provide assurance of the following:

  • Students with disabilities, wherever they are served, will receive all the services they require; 
  • Schools welcoming students with special education needs will be prepared to provide the necessary individualized, research-based literacy instruction and behavior supports; 
  • Technology will be embraced throughout the school system to provide support to all students and to close some of the gaps in access to curriculum for students with special education needs; 
  • Instructional materials will be made truly accessible to all students; and 
  • Students with disabilities will have real access not only to their community schools, but also to some of the more competitive schools and programs.

Read our testimony

10.23.2013 | Today AFC is testifying before the New York City Council Committee on Juvenile Justice regarding the educational needs of students in the custody of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) in non-secure placement through Close to Home. Our testimony expresses concerns about the quality and consistency of education across all of the non-secure placement facilities, and encourages ACS to continue to improve the initial placement process by ensuring that the educational needs of youth and a student’s grade and age are given due consideration during the placement process. Read testimony [PDF]

10.21.2013 | AFC has a new guide for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) students in New York City public schools! It answers common questions about LGBTQ youth in public schools and lays out LGBTQ students’ rights and what to do if these rights have been violated. It covers topics such as bullying and harassment; school transfers; changing your name at school; starting a Gay-Straight Alliance; and the rights of students living in temporary housing. View the guide [PDF]

10.17.2013 | Today AFC staff are wearing purple in support of Spirit Day, an annual day in October when millions of Americans speak out against bullying and show their support for LGBTQ youth! Learn more at http://glaad.org/spiritday.

AFC staff wearing purple