images of parents with their children
Dear Parents,
This week, the Board of Regents voted to reduce the number of days of student testing on the annual grades 3-8 State assessments in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics from three days each to two. The change takes effect beginning with the tests that will be administered in Spring 2018.
This move represents an important step in our efforts to deliver a testing program that is rigorous and, at the same time, responsive to the concerns of educators and parents. Going from three days of testing to two days has a number of advantages: it reduces the amount of time children will spend taking tests; returns valuable instructional time to our teachers; may make it easier for more schools to transition to computer-based testing; and more quickly implements the recommendation of the Governor's Common Core Task Force to reduce the number of days of student testing.
The two-day tests for the upcoming school year (2017-2018) will measure our current learning standards. We expect the Board of Regents will approve our new standards - the Next Generation English Language Arts and Mathematics Learning Standards - next month. Once the new standards are adopted, we will be thoughtful and deliberate in how they roll out. To that end, students will not be tested on the new standards for several years, giving our educators, parents, and students ample time to adjust to the new material. Read more about the shift to two-day testing and see a projected timeline for the new standards and assessments here .
Also this week, the State Education Department and the New York State Library, in partnership with our State's 1,100 main public libraries and neighborhood branches, announced the launch of "Summer Reading at New York Libraries," the 2017 New York State summer reading program. Now in its 25th year, the free, annual program gives children the opportunity to access the vast resources of New York's public libraries to support their summer reading.
Children and teens participating in the program receive book recommendations and engage in educational activities at their local libraries. Library staff help children select reading materials and provide literacy-enhancing activities such as storytelling, music, creative arts, and performances. At the end of the program, participants receive formal recognition for their reading achievement. The slogan for this year's program is "Build A Better World".
Last year, more than 2.1 million students and children participated in the program statewide. The goal for this year is to reach 2.5 million participants. Find out more about the summer reading program here .
Lastly, I want to remind you that the application for New York's new Excelsior Scholarship program is now available. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature enacted the program, which makes New York State public universities tuition-free for families making up to $125,000 per year once fully phased in in 2019. Starting this fall, the scholarship, which is administered by the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), is available to students attending a SUNY or CUNY school whose families make up to $100,000 annually. More than 940,000 middle-class families across New York State will be eligible for the scholarship.
The application is available on the HESC website and is open until July 21. On the website, you can find more information, including FAQs and a sign-up form to receive email alerts about the scholarship . I encourage you to share this information widely and urge eligible students to apply.
As summer break approaches, I want to congratulate you for helping to make the 2016-2017 school year a great one. I will continue to be in touch over the summer to update you on what is happening at State Ed. Thanks, as always, for your interest in our schools.

MaryEllen Elia