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Instructional Leaders Update

January 2012

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Greetings logo type
close-up of hand writingGreetings:

Happy New Year!

It’s been a busy month on the Race to the Top front! On Jan. 10, the Board of Regents announced it adopted the final version of the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Math (read more in the column on the right). We’ve also held three sessions to overview the new standards, and Lynne Wells and Laura Combs have visited with nearly all of the schools in the Network. Updates and the latest from the NYS Education Department are noted in this edition.

Our Network Team meets Feb. 1 for an interactive work session. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns, please contact me at or 862-4930, or contact Lynne Wells at, 464-3985.

Kathryn A. Gerbino, Assistant District Superintendent for Instruction
Important Dates heading


**An Encore "Overview of ELA and Math Common Core State Standards" is planned for February. Date, time and location will be announced soon.**

Race To The Top Network Team meeting
Feb. 1, 2012
8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Albany Room, 900 Watervliet-Shaker Road




Common Core State Standards

Click the title above for archived resources on this topic

Instructional leaders gather
insights on qualities of effective schools

Over the past four weeks, Laura Combs, Connie Miller and Lynne Wells have gained a great deal of insight from visiting area districts to talk about needs and goals regarding the characteristics of effective schools. It has been a very valuable experience and a wonderful display of the strengths, as well as the commonalities, each district possesses in this area. Over the next three weeks, they hope to visit all the remaining districts. During these difficult economic times, it makes sense for districts to pool resources and energies, Wells said. “We are committed to support districts as we move forward in our regional Race to the Top,” she added.

Updates to Common Core
Learning Standards approved

On January 10th, the Board of Regents approved the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy, Mathematics and Pre-Kindergarten. These standards are an extension of the Common Core State Standards previously adopted in July 2010.

The recommended additions for ELA and literacy include expectations for student inquiry, culture and diversity, and literature. These concepts are embedded to strengthen and deepen the existing common core for ELA. In mathematics, one addition was made to kindergarten and one to first grade to strengthen the standards. No additions were made for grades 2-12 in mathematics.

Implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards will begin in all schools in 2011-12. Classroom instruction is expected to be fully aligned to the new standards by the 2012-13 school year. Assessments that year will test achievement of the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for ELA & Literacy and mathematics.

Full details can be found on the NYSED website:
Approval memo for CCSS additions
NYSED's Common Core Standards Initiative page


Assessments & Use of Data

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Formative assessment
subcommittee holds its first meeting

Staff Development Coordinator Connie Miller and Data Warehouse Managing Coordinator Jeff Baker are co-facilitating the sub-committee for Formative Assessment in conjunction with the Race to the Top Initiative.

The sub-committee's first meeting was held on Jan. 24, at 900 Watervliet-Shaker Road in Albany. The agenda focused on their charge as a subcommittee: Sharing from the field, defining “formative assessment," and reviewing the various components of formative assessment (e.g., progress monitoring, interval assessment, mini-summative assessment). In addition, the sub-committee will develop a plan that outlines the next steps toward fulfilling the committee's charge.

The State Education Department has not announced additional requirements or updates in this area since the last e-newsletter. We are monitoring its communications and will update you as soon as there is anything new. The sub-committee will report out on their meeting at the Feb. 1 Race to the Top Meeting.


Educational Systems Quality Review

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Education Systems Review
pilot showing success at Schenectady CSD

The Education Systems Review is a self study tool for school district staff to dig deep into how they work together to accomplish key goals and objectives. Accountability for implementing Race to the Top will include assessment of whether or not planned changes are feasible. This will require work at the “systems” level in planning and implementing the new requirements. As this work is performed, success is more likely if the plans reflect how major activities fit together at the district and building levels, identify road blocks and address the root causes of those dilemmas.

Schenectady City Schools' building leadership teams have piloted the ESR this year and the consensus is positive. The teams looked at leadership in the building, infrastructure, data use, school climate & culture, professional development and teaching/learning categories, then developed action plans for meaningful change.

Patricia Doyle, Principal of Zoller Elementary School had this to say about the process:

“Each year schools have to develop a Comprehensive Educational Plan that reflects school improvement goals and initiatives. Previously schools had little if any guidance and support throughout the process. This year the SCSD partnered with the Capital Region BOCES and provided consultants to work directly with school based improvement teams. The consultant assisted the team with facilitated development of the plan, the analysis of relevant data, keeping the team to a time line and overall organization. This support has been a wonderful and much needed addition to the team as we work through this systematic approach in creating, implementing and analyzing our improvement plan. It has made the process much more meaningful and enjoyable!”

The Building Leadership Team at VanCorlaer stated:

“We reflected on our own building and the whole building gave input. It wasn’t a directive and we owned the plan."

Principal Barbara Coffey at Woodlawn states:

“It is very hard for a team to get to the core of the issue. In the past we have rarely met as a team. This didn’t occur the first day but the second brought much more openness and we got to discussion that was really needed. We are making steady steps forward."

Schenectady staff members will share their experiences with this process, particularly as it relates to the development and support of School Inquiry Teams, at the next meeting of the Race to the Top Network Team (Feb. 1). The Network Team will explore options for each district to initiate an Educational Systems Review in preparation of the formation of their Inquiry Teams.


Great Teachers & Leaders

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There are no new updates for this category at this time. Keep checking for more updates in the future.


Other News

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National Staff Development Council
Coaches Academy training announced

Capital Region BOCES is pleased to announce a Coaching Academy with instruction provided by coaching experts from the National Staff Development
Council (NSDC).

Tuesday-Thursday, April 26-28
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.,
Celtic Hall, 430 New Karner Road, Albany

Tuesday-Thursday, May 24-26
8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Capital Region BOCES,
900 Watervliet-Shaker Road, Albany

The cost is $770 per person, and includes six days of training (including lunch), one day on-site coaching work with a project coordinator, books and a one-year membership to the National Staff Development Council.

Questions? Contact Connie Miller, program manager, or 464-3982.

For more information, read the flyer. [PDF]


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Instructional Leaders Update

is a publication of Capital Region BOCES.
Questions? Contact Assistant District Superintendent for
Instruction Kathryn Gerbino at 862-4930.




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