March 10, 2022
Dear Parents and Families,
Commissioner Rosa
One of the guiding principles of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is to provide the supports, technical assistance, and guidance that educators, schools, families, and communities need to help our students learn, grow, and thrive. To best achieve this, we are evaluating everything we do through the lens of equity and access to high-quality educational opportunities for all students. As such, it was my honor to announce the appointments of two new P-12 Deputy Commissioners as part of NYSED's shift to a more service-oriented approach. Angelique Johnson-Dingle will serve as Deputy Commissioner, P-12 Instructional Support, and Jason Harmon will serve as Deputy Commissioner, P-12 Operational Support. In their new roles, Ms. Johnson-Dingle and Mr. Harmon will help implement the Department’s transformation. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Johnson-Dingle and Mr. Harmon to their new positions!
NYSED recently released graduation rates for the 2017 cohort, those students who first entered 9th grade in New York’s public schools in 2017. The State’s overall August graduation rate increased to 86.1 percent, up 1.3 percentage points from 84.8 percent for the 2016 cohort. The 2017 cohort graduation rate is 9.4 percentage points higher than a decade earlier when the 2008 cohort graduation rate was 76.7 percent.
Together, we can realize educational equity by enabling all students to earn a meaningful high school diploma, which is a crucial key to their future success. The Board of Regents and NYSED are reviewing graduation requirements to allow students multiple ways to demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills to graduate. For more specific data points, and for school- and district-level graduation data, visit NYSED's public data website. A PowerPoint presentation with additional data is also available. 
Students who have the opportunity to grow and excel outside the classroom are more engaged in the classroom. The New York State Archives and Archives Partnership Trust are now accepting entries for the 2022 New York State Student Research Awards program. In its 32nd year, the Student Research Awards program is a statewide historical research competition for students in grades four through twelve. This annual program provides an award to students whose projects are selected as winners in the elementary, middle school, and high school divisions. The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2022.
Governor Hochul recently announced the expansion of the SUNY Microcredential Program to provide more educational opportunities for adult learners and to help close the skills gap. Microcredentials are short, focused credentials designed to provide in-demand skills, know-how, and experience. Stackable microcredentials can also provide a pathway to a certificate or to an initial or advanced degree.
A microcredential can add value to a college application, resume, or online profile when applying to a college program, looking for a job, or pursuing a promotion. Here’s how to make the most of microcredentials.
Please be sure to sign up for our family email list to have these updates delivered directly to your inbox, and encourage other families to do the same. Thank you for your continued support as we continue to navigate pandemic-related changes. Governor Hochul recently announced that the state’s school mask requirement would be lifted last week, starting on March 2, 2022. This announcement shifted determinations about masking from the state as a whole to local decision-makers, including school district superintendents, based on local COVID-19 infection rates and hospital capacity. Please check with your child’s school to find out if local mask mandates are still in effect due to these local considerations.
Last week, the New York State Department of Health, in partnership with the Governor and NYSED, released updated school mask guidance and an FAQ document, which are also available on the following web pages:
We will continue to work together with the Governor to keep our schools safe for students and educators.

Betty A. Rosa