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Micaela is a dual-language learner who is on the autism spectrum and needed an appropriate school placement for kindergarten.

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AFC in the News

12.14.2017 | amNewYork | “The number of homeless students in New York City is twice the size of the Boston Public School system,” said Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, which put out the report. The data includes students living in shelters or other temporary housing, such as in a hotel or “doubled up” with family or friends... Because students have to get used to new routines, teachers and peers when they start a new school, their performance can suffer, Levine said. “Students perform better when they stay in their schools,” she said. According to Advocates for Children, “15 percent of third through eighth grade students living in shelters scored proficiently in reading and only 12 percent scored proficiently in math” in the 2015-2016 school year. Overall, 40.6 percent of third- through eighth-graders in the city scored proficiently in English and 37.8 percent scored proficiently in math, according to the Department of Education. Read article

12.14.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | “We do worry that in the hands of an unskilled teacher that kids will not necessarily feel welcomed and they’ll still be separated out and made to feel different” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children. “It’s pretty exciting to me to see that’s not necessarily true.”... Surprisingly, it made little difference whether students with disabilities were in “self-contained” classes — essentially classes comprised only of students with disabilities — or were in classrooms that included non-disabled peers: Both groups reported similar feelings of inclusion. (The findings don’t include students in District 75, a separate set of schools that are even less inclusive, since the schools themselves are only for students with disabilities.) Moroff, the special education advocate, said the finding surprised her and noted it could reflect that students in more segregated settings aren’t necessarily aware of more inclusive models. “It’s very possible there that there’s a level of interaction they’re not having,” Moroff said, “that they don’t even expect to be taking place.” Read article

12.13.2017 | NY1 | At DeWitt Clinton High School, 20 students were granted transfers to other schools in one year because they feared for their safety. 18 students were granted safety transfers from Life Sciences Secondary High School in Manhattan, and 17 from both Abraham Lincoln High in Brooklyn and the Bronx Leadership Academy. "That's rather alarming. That seems like a very high number that actually got the transfers," said Dawn Yuster of Advocates for Children of New York... Advocates say the numbers of students granted transfers might be a fraction of those who want one. "And what about the ones who are left behind, who in are in clearly — it seems to indicate a culture or climate that is not conducive to learning, and not supporting students," Yuster said. Read article

12.06.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | “Year after year, kids either didn’t have transition plans,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, “or they had transition plans that were meaningless.” Now, the city has come up with a new way to improve this transition: The education department is gradually opening centers in every borough staffed with experts who can directly help students with disabilities plan for life after high school, while also training school personnel on how to guide families through the process...Advocates said they are cautiously optimistic about the new centers, with the caveat that it will be important to track whether students ultimately have more meaningful experiences after they leave the system. “It’s a big job,” said Moroff, the disability-policy expert. “This isn’t just about getting kids to graduation — it’s about what happens after graduation.” Read article

11.14.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Some also pointed out that the information is difficult to find. The city’s official high school directory only says whether schools are “accessible” or “not accessible,” a potentially misleading indicator given that most schools fall somewhere in between. And the city’s “School Finder” site, essentially a digital version of the directory, does not link to the new accessibility data, though a spokesman said that information will be included in future updates. “This is all really, really valuable information,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children. “But if families don’t have a way of getting to it easily, it doesn’t do them a whole lot of good.”... Still, there are significant upsides to the new data — and not just for parents. More detailed information about building infrastructure could help the city better-allocate capital funding to schools that might only need modest improvements to become significantly more accessible, Moroff said. The city’s current five-year capital plan includes $100 million for such improvements. Read article

11.09.2017 | Chalkbeat New York |  Maggie Moroff, a special-education policy expert at Advocates for Children, a New York City-based group that opposes the waiver, said she recognizes how frustrating it can be for students with disabilities to sit for exams they find extremely difficult and are unlikely to pass. Nonetheless, “the waiver would give schools the opportunity to lower standards for students with disabilities,” she said, “instead of rising to the occasion.” Read article

11.01.2017 | New York Times | Tens of thousands of New York City public school children did not receive mandated special education services last year, the education department said in its annual report to the City Council on Wednesday, offering further evidence that eligible children are not getting the education the city is obligated to provide... Maggie Moroff, the special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York, said that the lack of support for special education students shows up in their academic results, including standardized test scores. “Kids with disabilities are doing far worse than kids in general education, and far worse than they could be doing if they were getting all the special education supports they should be getting,” Ms. Moroff said. Read article

11.01.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates acknowledged that the data shows more students receiving all of their services. But that still leaves over 48,000 students, or 27 percent, getting partial support or none at all, the advocates noted. “That’s really significant,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children. “That’s an entire school district somewhere else.” Read article

10.11.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, said in an interview that the city is moving in the right direction — just not quickly enough. As an example, she pointed out that more than 150 schools have populations where at least 10 percent of students live in shelters — yet the city is only sending 43 extra social workers to schools with high homeless populations. The city should raise that number to 100, she said. “The city has taken considerable steps,” Levine said. “But the statistics show the significant need for the city to redouble its efforts.” Read article

10.10.2017 | New York Daily News |  A record 111,562 homeless students attended city schools in the 2016-17 year, up from 105,445 in the 2015-16 school year, according to data posted online Tuesday by the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students. The center is a project of the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York. “The city has taken some considerable steps to assist students living in shelters, but these numbers show that further action is needed,” said Randi Levine, policy coordinator for Advocates for Children. Read article