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SECTION 309-A
Twenty-first century schools program
Education (EDN) CHAPTER 16, TITLE 1, ARTICLE 7
§ 309-a. Twenty-first century schools program. 1. Twenty-first century
schools plans. The commissioner is authorized to designate as
"twenty-first century schools," schools which are implementing approved
plans to achieve substantial improvement in student achievement.
Applications for designation as a twenty-first century school may be
submitted on behalf of an individual school, a subset of schools within
a school district or all schools within a school district. Each
application for designation as a twenty-first century school shall be
made in a form prescribed by the commissioner and shall set forth a
five-year plan to enable all students to achieve levels of educational
achievement that are competitive with high international standards
through implementation of innovative instructional strategies and
restructuring of school management and programs. Such application shall
be submitted by April first next preceding the school year in which
operation as a twenty-first century school would commence. The
twenty-first century school plan shall be developed through consultation
with teachers, administrators, parents and other interested parties and
shall be approved by the board of education at a public meeting. Such
consultation shall be conducted in accordance with plans for
school-based planning and shared decision making adopted in accordance
with regulations of the commissioner. A school designated as a
twenty-first century school may revise its plan, subject to approval by
the commissioner and subject to all requirements governing initial
development and approval of a plan. A twenty-first century school plan
shall contain such information as the commissioner may require,
including but not limited to:

a. identification of the school or schools included within the plan;

b. high, internationally competitive academic content and student
achievement standards and mechanisms for assessing student achievement
that are fair, reliable and valid, that have been selected or developed
in conjunction with teachers, principals, parents and representatives of
employers, organized labor, higher education institutions and community
organizations and are consistent with standards and assessment practices
developed by the department, by national organizations of subject-matter
experts or by others;

c. specific actions to be undertaken to assure that all students,
regardless of economic background, race, gender, ethnicity, disability
or limited English proficiency, will have a fair opportunity to achieve
the knowledge and skills described in the student achievement standards
pursuant to paragraph b of this subdivision;

d. specific improvements in student achievement that the plan is
expected to produce including, but not limited to, improvements in
student achievement as reflected in grades, test scores, portfolio
assessments and student demonstrations of skills or competencies and
improvements in attendance and completion rates;

e. certifications by the superintendent of schools and the principal
of each school included in the plan that the school will comply with all
requirements of this chapter, rules of the board or regulations of the
commissioner listed by the commissioner pursuant to subdivision three of
this section;

f. a description of the staff development, training and support for
teachers and other personnel that will be necessary to implement the
plan;

g. any changes in school governance or management, work rules or
assignment restrictions, pursuant to collective negotiations where
applicable, needed in order to effectively focus and assist schools in
preparing students to meet the achievement standards described in
paragraph b of this subdivision;

h. any actions to be undertaken to assist families of students in
addressing pressing needs that affect student achievement, including,
but not limited to, forming partnerships with public and private
agencies to increase the access of students and families to quality
coordinated services;

i. any actions to be undertaken to facilitate the transition from
school to work or to postsecondary education for all students including,
for example, integration of workplace readiness skills and career
information into curricula, provision of school-structured work
experiences, cooperation with local employers and articulation of school
and college programs; and

j. a plan for evaluation of the effectiveness of the program.

2. Criteria for approval. The commissioner may designate a total of up
to two hundred fifty twenty-first century schools by the nineteen
hundred ninety-nine--two thousand school year. The commissioner shall
promulgate criteria for the designation of twenty-first century schools
which shall include, but not be limited to:

a. certifications by the commissioner that: (i) the student
achievement standards described pursuant to paragraph b of subdivision
one of this section represent high, internationally competitive
standards for student knowledge and skills, (ii) that the mechanisms for
assessing student achievement pursuant to such paragraph b are fair,
reliable and valid; and (iii) the plan is designed to provide all
students with educational services of a quality at least as high as
those offered under existing practices, without regard to economic
background, race, gender, ethnicity, disability or limited English
proficiency;

b. the potential of the school plan for use as a model to be
replicated by other similarly situated schools and the probability of
success in substantially improving levels of achievement for all
students, without regard to economic background, race, gender,
ethnicity, disability or limited English proficiency;

c. evidence and strength of support for the proposal among teachers,
parents and staff;

d. use of nationally recognized school restructuring and improvement
models and reliance upon research-based strategies for improving student
achievement; and

e. changes in local policies to provide the school or schools with
additional enhanced flexibility.

The commissioner shall designate twenty-first century schools after
consultation with the twenty-first century schools committee established
pursuant to subdivision six of this section. The commissioner shall, to
the extent practicable, provide for designation of schools located in a
mixture of urban, rural and suburban settings. The commissioner shall
take specific actions to encourage applications from schools located in
economically and socially distressed communities.

3. Exemption from regulation. A school designated as a twenty-first
century school shall:

a. be exempt from complying with rules of the board and regulations of
the commissioner to the extent necessary to implement an approved
twenty-first century school plan and except as provided in paragraphs b
and c of this subdivision;

b. be authorized, as part of a twenty-first century school plan or
revision thereto, to request approval by the commissioner to be exempted
from specific requirements of this chapter except as provided in
paragraph c of this subdivision and provided that the school shall
continue to meet the underlying purposes of the statute to the
satisfaction of the commissioner and that the exemption shall be granted
only to the extent necessary to implement an approved twenty-first
century school plan in the affected school or schools and provided
further, that within thirty days of granting an exemption pursuant to
this paragraph, the commissioner shall provide written notice of such
action to the governor, the temporary president of the senate and the
speaker of the assembly; and

c. not be exempt from complying with requirements of this chapter,
rules of the board or regulations of the commissioner that (i) protect
the health, safety and civil rights of students and staff, (ii)
implement the requirements of federal law or regulation, (iii) provide
for teacher, staff and parent participation and involvement, maintenance
of effort or equitable participation of students and staff in nonpublic
schools, (iv) require the use of certified teachers, or (v) pertain to
attendance of pupils; further, nothing herein shall be construed to
exempt a twenty-first century school or its governing district from
complying with the provisions of titles two and four of this chapter,
with the requirement to offer students the opportunity to meet all the
requirements for and receive a regents high school diploma or with
requirements to reporting data necessary for the computation of state
aid.

On or by October first, nineteen hundred ninety-four, the commissioner
shall promulgate and provide to the governor, the temporary president of
the senate and the speaker of the assembly a preliminary list of all
requirements from which twenty-first century schools shall be required
to request specific exemption as provided in paragraph b of this
subdivision and with which twenty-first century schools shall be
required to comply as provided in paragraph c of this subdivision. The
commissioner shall promulgate a final list of all such requirements on
November first, nineteen hundred ninety-four. The commissioner shall
revise such list as needed and, in each case, shall provide a
preliminary revised list to the governor, the temporary president of the
senate and the speaker of the assembly at least thirty days prior to
promulgating a final revised list.

4. School evaluations and reports. Each school designated as a
twenty-first century school shall annually review its effectiveness in
improving student performance and enabling all students to achieve to
high internationally competitive standards and shall report the results
of this review to the commissioner by September first next succeeding
each year of operation as a twenty-first century school. Prior to the
start of a school's third year of operation as a twenty-first century
school, the school and the commissioner shall jointly review the
school's performance to identify areas in need of improvement and to
develop revisions to the school's twenty-first century school plan to
remedy the identified shortcomings. If, as a result of such review, the
commissioner determines that the school is unlikely to produce
improvement in student achievement, he or she shall commence action to
revoke the school's designation as a twenty-first century school in
accordance with the provisions of subdivision five of this section. The
trustees or board of education of each district operating a twenty-first
century school shall arrange for an independent evaluation of such
school's effectiveness in substantially improving student achievement.
Such independent evaluation shall be completed and transmitted to the
commissioner within ninety days after completion of the fourth year of
the school's operation as a twenty-first century school. Such
independent evaluation shall be conducted by an agency selected by the
trustees or board of education of the district and approved by the
commissioner.

5. Duties of the commissioner and department. The commissioner shall
promulgate guidelines to implement the provisions of this section, shall
annually review the performance of all schools designated as
twenty-first century schools, shall provide technical assistance and
support, as appropriate, to all such schools, and shall submit to the
regents, the legislature and the governor, no later than February first,
an annual report describing the effectiveness of the twenty-first
century schools program, recommending changes in the program and
recommending changes in laws and regulations affecting all schools based
upon the experiences of twenty-first century schools. The first such
report shall be submitted no later than June first, nineteen hundred
ninety-five and shall detail the steps undertaken to implement the
provisions of this section. Each such annual report shall list and
summarize all exemptions requested, granted and denied pursuant to
paragraph b of subdivision three of this section. The commissioner may,
acting either upon complaint or upon his or her own initiative, revoke a
school's designation as a twenty-first century school for good cause
shown and after affording the school an opportunity to present arguments
against revocation.

6. Twenty-first century schools committee. There is hereby established
the twenty-first century schools committee. The committee shall advise
and assist the commissioner in developing guidelines to implement the
provisions of this section, selecting schools for designation as
twenty-first century schools, reviewing the performance of such schools,
evaluating the overall effectiveness of the twenty-first century schools
program and recommending changes to the program and to laws, rules and
regulations affecting all schools based upon the experiences of
twenty-first century schools. The committee shall consist of thirteen
members, appointed by the governor, of whom three shall be appointed on
the recommendation of the commissioner, two on the recommendation of the
temporary president of the senate, two on the recommendation of the
speaker of the assembly, one on the recommendation of the minority
leader of the senate and one on the recommendation of the minority
leader of the assembly. The commissioner shall designate the chair. The
appointing authorities shall attempt to assure that the membership of
the committee includes representatives of parents, teachers, school
board members and school administrators as well as representatives of
their own institutions.