Cheerleading to become interscholastic sport this winter

Members of the Rocky Point High School medium

Members of the Rocky Point High School medium varsity squad celebrate after their routine at the Long Island Cheerleading Championship Tournament at Hauppauge High School on Feb. 2, 2013. (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Cheerleading will become an interscholastic sport this winter in schools across New York, after a vote Tuesday by the full Board of Regents.

The panel also adopted a new framework for the teaching of social studies, replacing guidelines established nearly 20 years ago.

Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the state's athletic association and many athletic directors told the board that cheerleading should have the same coaching and safety expectations as other sports.

"Cheerleading involves gymnastic activities . . . that need careful adult support and oversight," he said. "That's really the goal."

The vote means New York joins 34 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing competitive cheerleading as a sport.

Long Island cheerleading coaches have applauded the move, saying it gives participants the recognition they deserve, though they are concerned about what upcoming regulations might mean.

As for the new social studies framework, state leaders said the overhaul was overdue.

The changes will better align the curriculum with the goals of the Common Core academic standards.

The framework would be implemented in all grades within the next two years. Tests reflecting the changes will be administered no sooner than the 2017-2018 school year.

State officials said the state's social studies standards won't change, but students' depth of knowledge and ability to express what they've learned will be improved.

"Things like writing, careful reading of texts, drawing evidence from texts to support arguments, being able to make arguments across multiple texts about the same subject -- those kinds of literacy skills are essential to success in social studies, and so that's built into the framework," King said.

The upgrade will take into account major historical events, including the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the election of Barack Obama.

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