NY State Education Department

The state education department has approved a continued relationship between the University of Rochester and the Rochester City School District. 

The university has run East High School in partnership with the district for the last five years. The Rochester Board of Education, in a split vote, approved an extension a few months ago. 

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia abruptly resigned Monday, taking members of the state Board of Regents by surprise. She said she will take a new job at the end of August at an unnamed national firm. 

Elia, who is the first female commissioner in the history of the State Education Department, said she decided now is the right time to leave the post, and has agreed to accept a job with a national firm that works to turn around struggling public schools.

Karen DeWitt

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is leaving that job at the end of August.

Elia, who was appointed to the post in 2015, released a letter to the NYS Board of Regents on Monday saying that it “has been my great pleasure and honor to serve the students and teachers of New York over the last four years as we work to advance equity and excellence in our education system.”

Elia says she will be leaving for a position with a national firm, supporting districts in their efforts to turn around schools.

State education officials want more information from the city school district on what it will do to fix problems that the state has been monitoring.

On Thursday,  State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia sent a letter and a 32-page document to the district and its school board with more detail on what the state thinks of the district’s response to findings from a state consultant.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

After word came late Thursday night that Rochester School Supt. Barbara Deane-Williams will retire at the end of January, New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia released this statement to WXXI News on Friday:

The New York State Education Department has released the latest English and math test scores, and Rochester’s results are the worst among the “Big 5” city school districts.

For the exams given this past spring, in grades 3 – 8, in Rochester, for English Language Arts, 45.2%  of all test-takers statewide in grades 3 through 8 scored at the proficient level.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has been gathering public input on the state’s ESSA plan, which stands for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  That’s the  plan that replaced No Child Left Behind, and each state is coming up with its own version of the program which must then be approved by the federal government.

Elia has been hosting public hearings around the state, including one at Rush-Henrietta High School on Tuesday night.

She says the new ESSA  plan is expected to give states more flexibility.


Two Rochester area members  of the New York State Board of Regents are weighing in on the comments made by developer Carl Paladino last week, when he told a weekly newspaper that he hoped President Obama would die from mad cow disease and that Michelle Obama would return to being a male.

Attorney T. Andrew Brown, who is Vice Chancellor of the Board of Regents, says the comments are reprehensible but he says it is up to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia  to decide if Paladino can be removed from the Buffalo School Board.

ALBANY (AP) Time is running out to take part in New York state's public opinion survey on the Common Core learning standards.

The online survey closes Monday.

The state Education Department launched the AIMHighNY survey in search of detailed feedback on the state's English and math learning standards. Respondents can review and comment on specific standards for any grade level.

Karen DeWitt

State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia is clarifying her stand on the Opt Out move  in an interview with NYS PBS’ NY Now and public radio today.

20% of children this year boycotted the third through eight grade math and English tests associated with the Common Core learning standards.

Commissioner Elia says parents “absolutely” have the right to opt their kids out of state standardized tests, but she says she still wants to talk to them to try to bring them back to the fold.