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New Grad Rules Need Input From Businesses

It will be up to local officials to make sure the business community’s concerns are addressed at public information meetings regarding New York’s new graduation requirements.

Both Western New York meetings to gather the public’s input into new statewide graduation requirements will be held in Buffalo. Sessions will be held Feb. 27 at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts in Buffalo and March 31 at Erie 1 Boces in West Seneca.

Regent Catharine Collins of Buffalo, who will be present for both of the region’s public sessions, asked during Monday’s state Board of Regents meeting how the business community’s concerns are addressed.

Collins’ question came from a discussion she had with a human resources official at Geico in which the Geico official said the company was having trouble finding employees who have been taught how to type.

“As long as we go to the public because we need to know, just like this woman told me we need our students to be able to type,” Collins said. “I didn’t know that we weren’t teaching typing or keyboarding. We need to make sure all of the employers out there have an opportunity.”

Kim Wilkins, state P-12 instructional support deputy commissioner, told Collins that it will be up to the regional district superintendents who are helping organize the meetings to make sure the business community’s concerns are addressed. Emily DeSantis, assistant state education commissioner, said state officials and regional district superintendents are also reaching out through the Business Council of New York State and regional chambers of commerce to invite business representatives to attend the meetings.

The Regents have also pushed back slightly the end of the regional information meetings, which not will conclude at the end of March. New graduation requirements will be presented from a special commission to the Board of Regents in the winter of 2022.

State Education Department officials also decided late last week to use a new consulting company to review graduation requirements in other states and compile the information from the regional information meetings. Originally, the state was going to partner with Achieve for that work, but concerns from some stakeholders led the state to hire WestEd for the work.

“As we let you all know last week, we have engaged in a new partner for this work,” DeSantis said. “The (U.S. Education Department’s Region 2 Comprehensive Center) led by WestEd will conduct a literature review of graduation requirements in other states and compile the feedback we will gather in the regional meetings over the next two months. WestEd is a national research and development organization with offices across the country. Due to concerns raised by stakeholders we are no longer partnering with Achieve on this initiative.”

The state is continuing its partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“As we have said before, there are no strings attached to our contract with Gates for support of this project,” DeSantis said.

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