The Rochester City School District (RCSD) is one of the lowest performing school districts in New York on state assessments. To improve outcomes for RCSD’s children, TCA will:
Act as an expert resource for parents
Organize parent power
Design a common vision for RCSD to improve, aligning with ROC the Future
Drive funding and policy decisions
Our Recommendations for Education (K-12)
English Language Learners
Early Childhood Education
Limit Long-Term Suspensions
Train All Staff
Position Code Summary – There should be a position summary by job code up front in the budget book. There is a wealth of information in the budget book but it is spread over too many departments and schools to provide parents a clear picture of what is changing.
Use Normal Accounting Practices – The favorable/unfavorable labeling should be replaced with negative and positive numbers.
Add Column for School-Based Position Changes – The current school budget format is very difficult to read and should be reimagined with a column for FTE changes.
Adequate Staffing For Centralizing CSE – There should be at least 28 central staff (teachers and administrators) for the new central committee on special education (CSE) team. It is important this team is large enough to conduct all necessary meetings and evaluations, and have staff to provided embedded professional development in buildings.
Permanent Location for Bilingual Language and Literacy Academy - The Bilingual Language and Literacy Academy needs a permanent home. The current lease at 30 Hart Street is for 3 more years. The program will be more stable and offer more academic and enrichment opportunities for its students if it is housed in a permanent school building that shares space with other students. Housing the Bilingual Language and Literacy Academy at another school will also allow for staffing efficiencies.
Evaluate Effectiveness of Moving Preschool Special Education into Specialized Services - While shifting PSE out of the Early Childhood Office may seem to be the best option given the critical shortage of providers, the impact of this move should be closely evaluated throughout the 2019-20 school year. Preschool Special Education differs from School-Age Special Education in a number of important ways, including: PSE works closely with the County Department of Health, it manages children transitioning from the Early Intervention program, and it relies heavily on community-based organizations to both identify children in need of services and to deliver those special educational services. If it has a detrimental impact on students and families, another model should be considered for 2020-21.
Professional Development for Specialized Services Staff in Preschool Education- This professional development should aim to ensure these staff properly understand the early childhood system and are able to create developmentally appropriate IEPs. Specialized Services staff who are new to Pre-K should be provided with training on the EPK and UPK curricula to help create the least restrictive, highly integrated experience for the child.
Consider Creative Approaches for Developmental Services - Even with the County’s proposed 15% increase in reimbursement rates for PSE services, young children with developmental delays or disabilities will likely continue to wait for needed therapies and instruction. The delays are due to a shortage of providers, who are leaving the PSE field in order to take higher-paying positions in K-12 education and health care settings. These delays can result in increased demand for much more costly K-12 special education placements later in a child’s life. The Children’s Agenda recommends:
the District should continue to join with local elected officials, parents and advocates in pressuring state lawmakers and SED continue to increase reimbursement rates; and
the District should seriously consider other models such as becoming a PSE provider and hiring qualified professionals to deliver the services directly.
Improve Pre-K to Kindergarten Transition - Despite high quality Pre-K programs, RCSD early elementary students too often fall behind, struggling to learn to read by 3rd grade. One cause of this dynamic is that the transition from Pre-K to K can be challenging for a young child. To address this, the District should collaborate with the Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECDI) and other experts to develop evidence-based strategies and practices around early childhood transitions, and should ensure that the K-2 curriculum helps create a smooth transition from Pre-K to elementary grades.
Expand and Deepen Restorative Practices Districtwide. Suspensions will not be permanently eliminated without a viable alternative. Building strong relationships among the school community and forms of accountability rooted in empathy (Restorative Practices) are those alternatives. Staffing for the Roc Restorative Team, who provide vital training, coaching and hands-on support, must be maintained at a minimum, and a multi-year plan should be developed to adopt and deepen restorative practices districtwide, including building level staff capacity and a Board resolution declaring RCSD a Restorative District.
Ban Suspensions for K-3. Given what we know about the damaging effects of suspensions on academics, and how important it is for a child to be reading by 3rd grade, there should be a ban on suspensions for K-2 students. Suspensions are an ineffective discipline tool, academically damaging, and developmentally inappropriate for young children during a period of rapid brain development.
To read our latest fact sheet on K-3 suspensions, click here.
Limit Long-Term Suspensions to 20 Days. Given what we know about the damaging effects of suspensions on academics, and how important it is for a child to be reading by 3rd grade, there should be a ban on suspensions for K-2 students. Suspensions are an ineffective discipline tool, academically damaging, and developmentally inappropriate for young children during a period of rapid brain development.
Robust Data Sharing Agreement. The Roc3D Dashboard launched by RCSD this school year is a commendable step towards transparency. However, extensive quarterly reports should still be made public and discussed by the Board of Education and district leadership team. In addition, a robust data sharing agreement should be made with Roc the Future, so that outside experts are able to dive deeper into the data and partner with the district leadership team on strategies for improvement.
Adopt the School Climate Advisory Committee Recommendations. This report highlights a few key recommendations based on data from RCSD and interviews with members of the school community. This is not an exhaustive list. Members of the School Climate Advisory Committee have already developed an extensive list of recommendations that should be faithfully adopted.
The new code of conduct has a clearly defined discipline matrix. The matrix addresses a common concern among parents and staff that discipline is administered inconsistently. Training all staff on the new code of conduct and faithfully implementing the matrix will create consistency and provide detailed guidelines for handling common situations. Also, using the discipline matrix will reduce racial disparities in suspensions and promote alternatives to exclusionary discipline.
The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health disparities and trauma.