Headlines

Rise & Shine: Zooming in on both high- and low-rating teachers

Teacher Data Reports news:

  • Controversial Teacher Data Reports were released. (GothamSchools, DNAInfo, HuffPo, Post, NY1, WSJ)
  • The ratings show that teachers with both high and low scores work in schools across the city. (Times)
  • The city says it found no relationship between schools’ demographics and their teachers’ ratings. (NY1)
  • Some feared a focus on low-scoring teachers, but high-scoring ones are getting attention, too. (Times)
  • On average, schools with top scores on city progress reports had higher-rated teachers. (Daily News)
  • Long-reported swings in year-to-year scores has some skeptical of their value to the public. (WSJ)
  • News outlets that published the ratings varied greatly in their approach to error and reliability. (NY1)
  • The UFT is turning the release, which it opposed, into an opportunity to galvanize members. (Times)
  • The city’s rating release followed a similar, equally controversial release in Los Angeles. (L.A. Times)
  • Just one of the 15 highest-rated teachers is a man, reflecting the dearth of men in city classrooms. (Post)
  • The court decision letting the release take place set a precedent that applies statewide. (Journal News)
  • The ratings’ release could make for some uncomfortable conversations as school resumes today. (WSJ)
  • A Queens teacher who inspired a bully on “The Simpsons” got low scores in reading and math. (Post)
  • The value-added methodology gave several teachers cumulative scores of zero. (PostDaily News)
  • Two Bronx schools, both with high-needs students, have teachers with very different scores. (Post)
  • Parents who ask that their children be moved out of low-rated teachers’ classes won’t have luck. (Post)

And Teacher Data Reports reviews:

  • Some parents at a Queens school where a teacher got a very low score say they want changes. (Post)
  • Chancellor Walcott said this weekend that he thought the ratings were causing healthy dialogue. (Post)
  • A handful of local politicians, including the Staten Island borough president, praised the release. (Post)
  • Other Staten Islanders, including teachers and parents, gave mixed reviews to the release. (S.I. Advance)
  • Many teachers oppose the ratings’ release; some find some value. (Daily News 1, 2)
  • Some parents say they appreciate the information the ratings’ release provides. (Post 1, 2)
  • The Post says the release of the ratings was a victory for kids and transparency of government data.
  • The Daily News says even though the ratings aren’t perfect, they should have been released.
  • A Manhattan Institute scholar says the ratings can be useful if consumed cautiously. (Daily News)

In other news:

  • With diversity declining at Stuyvesant, being a black student can be a lonely experience. (Times)
  • Some churches held services in city schools after a late court decision kept the doors open. (WSJ)
  • City students who overcame great odds to succeed received scholarships from the New York Times.
  • New Jersey’s schools chief wants to remove free lunch eligibility as a definer of poverty. (Star-Ledger)
  • Michael Winerip: Arne Duncan’s ties to Michelle Rhee could cloud a federal investigation of her. (Times)
  • Long obscured, donors to Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst campaign are now being made public. (HuffPo)
  • The Daily News praises the city’s efforts to crack down on graduation rate inflation.

News from midwinter break:

  • An audit prompted the city to overhaul Regents grading and credit recovery policies. (GothamSchools)
  • Our explanation for why we would not publish the teacher ratings with names attached. (GothamSchools)
  • An average of five students a day were arrested in city schools last fall, new data show. (GothamSchools)
  • A city charter school’s closure has spurred talk about how to help struggling charters. (GothamSchools)
  • Despite a new mandate, some schools are still turning away special needs students. (Insideschools)
  • Some state districts had their federal funding restored over evaluations, but not NYC. (GothamSchools)
  • The city actually called off a state hearing to make the case for a funding restoration. (GothamSchools)
  • After the state’s evaluations deal, more city principals signed a petition in opposition. (GothamSchools)

father knows best

How a brush with death convinced one dad to get his diploma, with a boost from the Fatherhood Academy

PHOTO: Courtesy of Steven Robles
Steven Robles with his family

Steven Robles thought he might not live to see his daughter’s birth.

In May 2016, the 20-year-old was in the hospital after being shot during what he described as an argument in his neighborhood.

A year later, Robles just graduated from City University of New York’s Fatherhood Academy. He passed his high school equivalency exam and is happily celebrating his daughter Avare’s 8-month birthday.

“That conflict is what got me into the program, and what happened to me before she was born motivated me to stay in the program,” Robles said. “It motivated me to manage to pass my GED.”

Robles grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn and attended Franklin K. Lane High School. Though he liked his teachers, Robles said other students at the school were not “mature enough,” and the disorderly school environment made it hard for him to concentrate.

A quiet student, Robles said teachers would often overlook his presence in the classroom. Between that and friction with other classmates, Robles lost interest in school.

“My parents didn’t try to help me, either,” Robles said. “Nobody really tried to help me with that school, so I just stopped going.”

It was a whole different experience for him once he arrived at the Fatherhood Academy at LaGuardia Community College, a program run by CUNY for unemployed and underemployed fathers ages 18 through 28. The Academy, now partnering with the New York City Housing Authority at its LaGuardia location, was launched in 2012 and also has programs at Hostos and Kingsborough Community Colleges.

“I have interviewed many of the men who come into the program and I often ask the question, ‘What brought you here?'” said Raheem Brooks, program manager of the Fatherhood Academy at LaGuardia Community College. “Mostly every young man says, ‘I’m here because I want to create a better life for my child than I had.’ So, I think the main theme of the program is that we help promote intergenerational change.”

At the LaGuardia branch, 30 students attend classes three times a week over the course of 16 weeks. Subjects include mathematics, social studies, and writing for students seeking to get their high school equivalency diplomas. Students also attend workshops run by counselors who guide them in professional development and parenting.

Robles found out about the program after seeing a flier for it in his social worker’s office at Graham Windham, a family support services organization. Curious to see what the Academy offered, he called to find out more and officially enrolled after passing a test to prove he could read above seventh-grade level.

“Before the Academy, I was not really into school at all,” Robles said. “But when I got there, it just changed my life. In this program, I didn’t know anybody there, there were no distractions. It made me more focused, and I just really wanted to get my GED and education.”

What helped Robles the most was getting to learn from the other fathers in the class, who were going through similar experiences as him.

“Little things I didn’t know, I learned from them because they were also fathers,” Robles said. “I just liked the way they were teaching us.”

In fact, he liked the Academy so much, he doesn’t plan to leave. He is applying to study criminal justice at LaGuardia Community College and to become a mentor for the Academy next year.

Currently, Robles lives with his grandparents, his daughter and the mother of his child. Getting a place for his family is next on his to-do list, he said.

“Avare always has a smile on her face and always puts a smile on my face,” Robles said. “She motivates me to get up and do what I have to do. Anything I could do for her, I will.”

Though school did not play a huge role in his life growing up, that is not what Robles wants for his daughter. He said after participating in the Academy, he wants to make sure Avare stays motivated and in school.

“I hear a lot from people about how they think they can’t do it,” Robles said. “I almost lost my life before my daughter was born and that motivated me. If I could do it, you could do it.”

Behind the brawl

Three things to know about the Tennessee school behind this week’s graduation brawl

PHOTO: Arlington Community Schools
Arlington High School is a 2,000-plus-student school in suburban Shelby County in southwest Tennessee.

Arlington High School is considered the crown jewel of a 3-year-old district in suburban Shelby County, even as its school community deals with the unwelcome attention of several viral videos showing a fight that broke out among adults attending its graduation ceremony.

The brawl, which reportedly began with a dispute over saved seats, detracted from Tuesday’s pomp and circumstance and the more than $30 million in scholarships earned by the school’s Class of 2017. No students were involved.

“It was unfortunate that a couple of adults in the audience exhibited the behavior they did prior to the ceremony beginning and thus has caused a distraction from the celebration of our students’ accomplishments,” Arlington Community Schools Superintendent Tammy Mason said in a statement.

Here are three things to know about the 13-year-old school in northwest Shelby County.

With more than 2,000 students, Arlington is one of the largest high schools in Shelby County and is part of a relatively new district.

It’s the pride of a suburban municipality that is one of six that seceded from Shelby County Schools in 2014 following the merger of the city and county districts the year before. (School district secessions are a national trend, usually of predominantly white communities leaving predominantly black urban school systems.) More than 70 percent of Arlington’s students are white, and 6 percent are considered economically disadvantaged — in stark contrast to the Memphis district where less than 8 percent are white, and almost 60 percent are considered economically disadvantaged.

The school’s graduation rate is high … and climbing.

Last year, after adding interventions for struggling students, the school’s graduation rate jumped a full point to more than 96 percent. Its students taking the ACT college entrance exam scored an average composite of 22.5 out of a possible 36, higher than the state average of 19.9. But only a fifth scored proficient or advanced in math and a third in English language arts during 2015-16, the last school year for which scores are available and a transition year for Tennessee under a new test.

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
Education Commissioner Candice McQueen visits with students at Arlington High School during a 2016 tour.

The school was in the news last August when Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen visited its campus.

The commissioner spoke with students there to kick off her statewide listening tour that’s focused on ways to get students ready for college and career. McQueen highlighted the school’s extracurricular activities and students’  opportunities to intern for or shadow local professionals. She also complimented Arlington for having an engaged education community.