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The NYS Board of Regents on Monday voted to reduce the number of days of student testing  for grades three through eight.

The changes for the English language arts and mathematics tests will take place in the spring of next year.

The number of days for the tests will be reduced from three to two.  Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa says the board wants to make certain the tests continue to provide a valid measure of student achievement.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  New York state has begun accepting applications for its new tuition-free college program.

More than 3,000 people signed up for the Excelsior scholarship Wednesday, the first day the applications were available.

They'll be accepted through July 21. Applicants should know within a week whether they're eligible to receive funding.

News coverage including the youth voice, gauging the youth perspective, and digging into issues affecting our youth are of importance to WXXI. Part of that coverage includes identifying and connecting with young people, in this case high school students , who are not only working hard in the classroom, but also want to make our community and our world a better place.

Need to Know’s “Top of the Class” series introduces you to these amazing young people. On this edition of the program viewers meet Tori Hoefen, the 2017 valedictorian at East Rochester Junior-Senior High School. 

There’s an opportunity gap that exists in urban education. For those who live in Monroe County, but outside the City of Rochester, this gap matters to them too. How? The fate of our suburbs is deeply connected to the livelihood of our cities, including our public schools. But closing that opportunity gap can happen. On this edition of Need to Know we learn how.

Guests include: Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., a renowned expert on public education in America, a sociologist and a Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA and Shaun Nelms, Ed.D., an associate professor at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education and Superintendent of East High School.

There’s a question that has plagued the Rochester community for decades: What will it take to improve educational outcomes for city school students? On this edition of Need to Know we’ll learn how one thing, equity, could change everything.

Also on the show, they’ve escaped war, violence, persecution and natural disasters. And some who now call Rochester “home” are still living with uncertainty. We’ll learn why World Refugee Day has a new meaning.

And meet a local valedictorian with a heart for others and a mean forehand as our Top of the Class series continues.

Low-income students of color make up the majority of classrooms in American public schools, and research shows that the challenges they face -- poverty, homelessness, or hunger -- have directly influenced their level of academic success. While many of these children are failing to make the grade, education experts say state and federal policies are failing the students. They say there’s too much of a focus on raising test scores, and that policies should be designed to close opportunity gaps and get students excited about learning.

Pedro Noguera is an internationally-recognized education scholar who studies how students are affected by a variety of social and economic factors. He’s in Rochester to give a presentation at East High School, but first, he’s our guest on Connections. We talk about how to create more equitable education opportunities for all students. In studio:

  • Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., sociologist and distinguished professor of education at UCLA
  • Shaun Nelms, Ed.D., associate professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, superintendent of East High School, and co-chair of the Greater Rochester Initiative for Children’s Social and Emotional Health Implementation Task Force

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has been gathering public input on the state’s ESSA plan, which stands for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  That’s the  plan that replaced No Child Left Behind, and each state is coming up with its own version of the program which must then be approved by the federal government.

Elia has been hosting public hearings around the state, including one at Rush-Henrietta High School on Tuesday night.

She says the new ESSA  plan is expected to give states more flexibility.

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(AP) - New York State is setting aside $35 million to expand after-school programs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the funds on Tuesday.

Cuomo says the investment in the youngest New Yorkers is an investment in the state's “very future” and will help “level the playing field” for children from vulnerable communities.

The money will go to schools with high childhood poverty rates. Officials say eligible districts can be found throughout the state.

For years, political leaders have stressed STEM education and the importance of a college degree. What about the BOCES model, focusing on learning skilled trades, like welding? There is momentum shifting toward skilled trades in the modern economy, particularly as college graduates enter an uncertain marketplace. Our guests: 

  • Olie Olson, metal trades instructor at the Mt. Morris Career and Technical Education Center
  • Matt Cicero, senior at Livonia Central Schools and a student in the Metal Trades program
  • Megan Sweeney, junior at Churchville-Chili Central Schools and student in the Engineering and Metal Fabrication program at Monroe 2 BOCES’ Career and Technical Education Center
  • Julie Donlon, assistant superintendent for instruction and school improvement for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership

School districts throughout Rochester are battling a storm of unknowns. The federal health care bill which is a repeal of the Affordable Care Act is calling for $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next ten years. Why does that matter to public school districts? It ultimately affects services delivered to some of their most vulnerable students - those in special education.

Susan Hetherington – director of the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester - explains some of the potential implications of the health care bill for students.

This story is from WXXI's  Inclusion Desk, part of our Move to Include partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation designed to promote inclusion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

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