November 2010 Issue
October 26, 2010

Cutting AIS is a bad idea

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

The State Education Department raised the bar to identify more students struggling in math and English Language Arts, but SED now says there's not enough money to get newly identified students the help they need.

That's the stark reality after the Regents agreed to waive this year's mandate that districts provide Academic Intervention Services to all students scoring at levels 1 and 2. The bottom line: AIS will not have to be offered to students who would have been deemed proficient under 2009 cut scores.

In July, the Regents raised cut scores for the 2010 ELA and math exams, meaning more students would require AIS. Across grades 3-8 statewide, the number of "proficient" students dropped from 77 percent to 53 percent in ELA and from 86 to 61 percent in math.

However, SED officials said districts couldn't meet the mandate at a time of severe budget cuts and with no prior warning that cut scores would be raised.

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said the move is a bad idea and "inconsistent" with SED's effort to improve student learning. "Parents and teachers are on the same page. We're concerned students are not getting the extra help they need," Neira said. "And what will this mean for the students when they take 2011 exams?" She noted the original purpose of these tests was to identify students who needed extra help.