The Dignity For All Students Act
Increased awareness of the devastating, sometimes fatal, effects of bullying prompted New York Legislators to expand current Education Law to include instruction in the concepts of tolerance and respect for others. This new law takes effect July 1, 2012.
The Dignity For All Students Act protects students in public elementary and secondary schools from harassment and discrimination by other students or school personnel while on school property. Public schools are required to amend their Codes of Conduct to reflect this and develop appropriate responses to violations of the Act.
As part of civility, citizenship, and character education, students will participate in programs to increase awareness and sensitivity to others who are often targets for bullying and harassment. The goal of this law, as outlined by The Department of Education, is to create a safe and supportive school climate where students can learn and focus, rather than fear being discriminated against and/or verbally and/or physically harassed.
Changes to state assessments
Under the No Child Left Behind Act schools must annually access the Language Arts and Mathematic skills of students in grades 3-8. The state is continually modifying this exams to get a better picture of how well New York students are progressing.
The 2012 exams will be given over a three day period next April. Each exam is estimated to take 45 to 60 minutes to complete although schools must allow 90 minutes for special needs students. Commissioner King noted there will be fewer questions on the new exams and the new exam schedule is similar to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System and the New England Common Assessment Program.
The exams will include ungraded field questions which will be used to help align the 2013 exams with the Common Core Standards recently adopted by New York.
Green schools incentives
New York is participating in the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School program.
The Green Ribbon Schools recognition award will be given to schools that have achieved or are making demonstrable progress toward:
- having a net zero environmental impact
- improving the health and performance of students and staff
- ensuring the environmental and sustainability literacy of all graduates.
Schools submitting applications must meet college and career ready standards and be in compliance with all federal, state, and local civil rights laws and health and safety regulations.