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Policy & Initiatives

Policy Reports

Policy Reports

This page features all of Advocates for Children of New York’s most recent policy reports on education issues in New York. Please see our archive for policy reports issued prior to 2010.

Note: All policy reports are in PDF format and will open in a new window. To view PDF files, download the following free software: Get Adobe® Reader®.

2018

first page of reportAccess Denied: School Accessibility in New York City 
This October 2018 data brief looks at the accessibility of New York City’s 1,800 public schools. Nearly 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Access Denied finds that less than one in five of the City’s schools is categorized by the DOE as “fully accessible.”  The report urges the City to use the forthcoming capital plan to reach an ambitious and attainable goal—making a third of all schools fully accessible by 2024.  




Gaps in Social Workers for Students Living in Shelters 
This May 2018 report documents the number of New York City schools with high concentrations of students living in shelters that do not have a social worker focused on this population. AFC’s analysis shows that the Mayor's proposed modest increase in funding falls far short of meeting the need, and calls on the City to double the number of school social workers focused on serving students living in shelters.

Recommendations for Improving School Access and Success for Rising Numbers of Students in Temporary Housing 
In March 2018, Advocates for Children and Citizens' Committee for Children of New York jointly issued recommendations for expanding support for students experiencing homelessness. The recommendations include establishing high-level Department of Education leadership, expanding the Bridging the Gap school-based social worker program, and hiring DOE social workers to provide intensive supports at shelters to address education-related issues.

Advocacy Strategies to Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline: From Working with Localities to Litigation
This March 2018 white paper discusses approaches that work to positively support students, improve school climate, and reduce suspensions, referrals to law enforcement, and inappropriate removals to the psychiatric emergency room. The paper also discusses strategies to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and the disparate impact on students with disabilities and students of color, including working collaboratively with school districts and localities, advocating to change laws, and litigation.

2017

first page of data briefChildren in Crisis: Police Response to Students in Emotional Distress 
This November 2017 data brief analyzes data reported by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) showing that Black students are significantly over-represented in NYPD “child in crisis” interventions – incidents involving students in emotional distress sent to the hospital for psychological evaluation. The brief examines the demographic characteristics of students involved in child in crisis interventions, as well as the NYPD’s use of handcuffs on students as young as 5 years old during these incidents between July 2016 and June 2017.

empowering parents report coverEmpowering Parents So Children Succeed: A Toolkit to Support Parent Involvement in Education when their Children are in Foster Care 
For the past three years, Advocates for Children has been partnering with SCO Family of Services, a social services provider, to build the agency’s capacity to address the education-related needs of the children they serve. As part of this collaboration, we have been working to develop best practices and create resources to help foster care agencies engage and empower parents to take an active role in their children’s education. In September 2017, we jointly released a new report, Empowering Parents So Children Succeed, which provides recommendations for child welfare agencies as well as an easy-to-use toolkit to support parent involvement in education when their children are in foster care. 

page 1 of data briefMissed Potential: English Language Learners Under-Represented in New York City Career and Technical Education Programs
On July 24, 2017, Advocates for Children released this data brief analyzing city and state data showing that English Language Learners (ELLs) are under-represented in career and technical education (CTE) programs at New York City high schools. The brief examines ELL enrollment at schools that offer CTE, as well as their participation and completion rates in the CTE programs at those schools. The also paper offers a list of recommended steps the New York City Department of Education can take to begin to address barriers for ELLs, including resolving recruitment and enrollment issues, offering extra training for CTE instructors in serving ELLs, and providing classroom supports in CTE schools. 

report coverSafe Havens: Protecting and Supporting New York State’s Immigrant Students 
This May 2017 report, released by the Education Trust–New York, Advocates for Children of New York, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, urges New York school districts to better protect and support immigrant students and families. While the State Education Department (SED), the Attorney General’s Office, and the NYC Department of Education have taken a number of important steps, there is much more to do; recommendations include that SED reiterate that questions about national origin should not be asked during the student registration process; encourage school districts to adopt — and in some cases, strengthen — their protocols for how to respond to any request for access by ICE; and reinforce the importance of providing social-emotional support. 

2016

CTE report cover

Obstacles and Opportunities: Creating Career and Technical Education Pathways for Students with Disabilities 
This December 2016 report analyzes access to high school-level career and technical education (CTE) programs for students with disabilities in New York State. Although students with disabilities made up about 15% of the class that was expected to graduate in 2015, they comprised only 11.6% of students reported to have completed most of a CTE program. Based on data findings and interviews with professionals, special education advocates, and parents of students with disabilities, the paper makes recommendations for addressing barriers to CTE.


A is for All report cover

A is for All: Meeting the Literacy Needs of Students with and without Disabilities in the New York City Public Schools 
On March 10, 2016,  AFC released this report documenting the need for urgent and sustained action to address the particularly low literacy levels for low-income students with disabilities. The report discusses the key elements for teaching reading effectively to all students, reviews research and case stories indicating that students with a wide range of disabilities are capable of learning to read if they receive appropriate instruction, highlights a number of promising programs in New York City, and provides recommendations for implementing systemic and lasting change. 


Discipline for Students with Disabilities: Support Rather than Exclusion 
This March 2016 white paper discusses the rights of students with disabilities to behavioral supports, and individual and systemic advocacy strategies that provide support for students with disabilities instead of excluding them from school. 


2015

Civil Rights Suspended report coverCivil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies
This February 2015 report describes findings made from AFC's review of 164 New York City charter school discipline policies obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests. A significant number of City charter schools have discipline policies that fail to meet the legal requirements, leading to violations of students’ and parents’ civil rights. The report includes recommendations for state legislators to consider as they discuss raising the cap on charter schools and ensuring that charter schools serve high-needs students. 


2014

Sixteen Going on Seventh Grade report cover

Sixteen Going on Seventh Grade: Over-Age Students in New York City Middle Schools
More than 50,000 middle school students – a quarter of the students in New York City’s public middle schools – have been left back at least once, and more than 8,500 students have been left back at least 3 times. Despite their significant academic and social-emotional needs, there are fewer than 450 seats in programs for over-age middle school students in the City’s traditional public and charter schools. This September 2014 policy report brings attention to the unique needs of over-age middle schoolers and provides the New York City Department of Education (DOE) with recommendations for improving outcomes for this population.


2013

Rethinking Pathways to Graduation report coverRethinking Pathways to High School Graduation in New York State: Forging New Ways for Students to Show Their Achievement of Standards 
On December 12, 2013, the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma released this report, prepared by Advocates for Children of New York, examining the difficulties that high stakes standardized exit exams pose for many students and addressing the need for more flexible exam requirements and assessment-based pathways to a diploma. The report outlines several recommendations for the State to improve access to a high school diploma while maintaining high standards that ensure college or career readiness.
 

Essential Voices Part 2 report coverEssential Voices, Part II: Engaging Students and Parents in the Implementation of a New Teacher Evaluation System 
This October 2013 policy paper calls on the DOE to include students and parents when putting the new teacher evaluation system into practice by establishing a stakeholder advisory group to provide feedback on the policy implementation process. The paper also provides examples of structures established for this purpose in other cities and states.
 



Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court report coverKeeping Kids In School and Out of Court: Report and Recommendations from the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force 
In the 2011-12 school year, there were 69,694 suspensions and 2,548 arrests and summonses in the New York City public schools. Research and experience have shown that we can keep our schools safe while reducing these high rates of suspensions and arrests, which are linked to high rates of school failure, drop out, and future court involvement. We need effective and fair school discipline, with schools creating and nurturing a climate and culture that promote positive behavior, and we need targeted, consistent collaboration between the education, justice, and social service systems, as well as the communities they serve. This report, released on May 30, 2013, outlines a plan of action for the next mayor to lead a city-wide effort to keep kids in school and out of court.


2012 

Policy Recommendations: Effective Accountability Mechanisms for New York State's English Language Learners 
On October 1, 2012, AFC and The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) jointly released this policy paper, which sets forth key principles for a sound ELL accountability framework in New York State.

Meeting the Educational Needs of Students in the Child Welfare System: Lessons Learned from the Field 
Over the last decade, child welfare agencies and advocates have begun to recognize that the students they serve need access to greater educational opportunities, and that education is critically important to child wellbeing, permanency planning and a successful transition to adulthood. This report from Advocates for Children of New York offers insights and analysis from five years implementing Project Achieve, a program that places AFC staff on site at partner foster care and preventive services agencies in New York City. The report explains how Project Achieve works and examines its long-term impact on the children and families served by these agencies, the people who work there and the city’s child welfare system itself.

Essential Voices: Including Student and Parent Input in Teacher Evaluation 
On June 18, 2012, AFC released this policy paper, which makes the case for student and parent input in teacher evaluation in New York City and describes efforts other states and districts are undertaking to incorporate student and/or parent feedback into their own teacher evaluation systems.


2011

Out of School and Unprepared: The Need to Improve Support for Students with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood 
In March 2011, the ARISE Coalition, a group of parents, educators, advocates and other supporters of students with disabilities coordinated by Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), released this policy paper calling on New York City and New York State to follow the law with respect to transition planning and to give post-secondary transition for students with special education needs the same high priority they are beginning to give college and career readiness for other students.


2010

More Than a Statistic: Faces of the Local Diploma 
On October 28th, 2010, Advocates for Children of New York released a briefing paper which profiles nine young adults who were able to earn their high school diploma only because the local diploma, which the state is phasing out, existed. This paper calls on officials to develop alternative pathways to earn a regular high school diploma.

Students with Interrupted Formal Education: A Challenge for the New York City Public Schools 
There are more than 15,000 students in the New York City public schools who came to this country having missed two years or more of schooling. These students – known as Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) – present particular challenges for educators trying to raise the 40% on-time graduation rate for English Language Learners (ELLs) in general. This report by Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) examines the data on the SIFE population and profiles twelve immigrant students who should have been identified as SIFE by their schools. The report uses the experiences of the students to show how the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and individual schools try and often fail to meet their needs.