A Web-Based Consortium Helps N.Y. Teachers Cope with New State Standards

New York teachers faced a serious challenge after the Board of Education drastically overhauled educational standards in that state a few years ago.

Without adequate time, human resources, or even sufficient access to the new standards, educators were hard-pressed to familiarize themselves with the standards.

This ominous situation encouraged educational groups around the state to develop a consortium made up of various BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services), libraries, school districts, and institutions of higher learning. They devised ACCELERATE, a project that now helps educators, students, and the community to understand and work toward meeting the new state standards.

The state’s web site made the educational standards available online only in PDF files, but these were impractical for educators working with 28.8K modems. So the first thing ACCELERATE did was download the state’s PDF files, convert them to simple text, and post them on the consortium’s web site.

They divided them into four categories: parents; teachers and administrators; Board of Education; and community.

Next, the consortium developed online courses to teachers could use to familiarize themselves with the standards program and learn how to prepare students to take the new assessment tests. Educators have been motivated to use these resources, because the state is strictly enforcing the new standards.

ACCELERATE’s online courses, which use streaming video and incorporate “just-in-time” staff development and instructional materials, are available to thousands of teachers at any time. The coursework can be used to satisfy the 175-hour teacher-training requirement without taking teachers out of class.

The first course ACCELERATE developed was for fourth-grade English language arts. The next set of courses will focus on social studies and math. Recently, the consortium has added a human dimension to the electronic resources. ACCELERATE personnel now meet with involved teachers three times during a course.

It’s too early to tell if the consortium’s efforts are paying off. Regardless of the project’s ultimate effect on test scores, though, ACCELERATE has been ground-breaking because it has fostered unprecedented cooperation among nonpublic and public schools, BOCES, and numerous educational associations.

ACCELERATE is derived from the “ACC” in access, the “ELE” in enhanced learning environments, and the “RATE” in “regional advancements of training efforts.”

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