At the Manhattan mayoral control hearing, Assembly members are seizing an opportunity they say they haven't had in four years: the chance to interrogate Chancellor Joel Klein directly. The chair of the education committee, Cathy Nolan, is leading the interrogations with personal examples of her own difficulties as a parent. She said she has been hung up on by a school official she called trying to get information about her son. "Not everybody is having an ideal experience, chancellor," she said. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal complained about a lack of transparency, saying that she had resorted to using a Freedom of Information Law request to find information on class size data that state law requires the city to provide — and then finally got a CD with the wrong data on it. Nolan then piped up saying she had the same experience. "That's unacceptable," said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, shaking his head.
A fourth grader explains how his classmates mapped their families' origins during their unit on immigration. I spent this morning at PS 27, the Red Hook school that the Department of Education announced in December would close at the end of the school year because of its persistently poor performance. I wanted to see what kinds of learning are happening at a school deemed so bad that it must close. Today, the school's gym and auditorium had been converted into a mini-museum to show off last semester's projects, and I saw some creative ones. Some of the highlights: a video about how to solve algebraic equations by three seventh-grade girls; the fourth grade's giant timeline of Red Hook's history; and a model of nearby Coffey Park produced by second graders who had explored the neighborhood in depth. You can view a slideshow of these projects and others. But overall, the caliber of the work on display wasn't strong.
Offers of admission by borough. Data from the Department of Education More than 6,000 eighth- and ninth-graders got good news today: offers of admission to one of the city's nine specialized high schools. For the 23,000 other students who took the Specialized High School Admission Test last October, the wait to find out about what school they'll attend this fall will continue until the end of next month. They'll find out where they've been accepted at the same time as the tens of thousands of eighth graders who did not try to get into one of the city's most elite schools. At eight city schools, including Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, admission is based on students' scores on the ultracompetitive Specialized High Schools Admission Test, which 29,000 eighth- and ninth-graders took last October. Admission to the ninth school, LaGuardia, depends on music or art auditions and grades. More than 100 more students were offered spots at LaGuardia this year, 1,041 compared to 936 last year. The school is graduating a larger-than-normal class this June and so extended more offers of admission than it has in the past, according to Andrew Jacob, a Department of Education spokesman.
Both the mayor and the chancellor have now issued statements boasting about gains on Advanced Placement exams, the rigorous tests that are considered a good indicator of whether students are prepared for college. But the picture is more complex than they suggest, and if anything the evidence adds to concerns raised yesterday about college preparedness, particularly among black and Hispanic students. More students are definitely taking the exams than were in 2002, whether you look at the sheer numbers — a total of 23,600 students took the tests in 2008, up from less than 17,000 in 2002 — or at proportions — in 2008, about 23% of eleventh- and twelfth-graders took AP exams, up from 21% in 2002.* But, as I suggested yesterday, the increased participation has led to a lower pass rate: