2015 state tests

Eight top 10s from New York City’s 2015 test scores

PHOTO: Alan Petersime

The city’s state test scores continued to inch up in 2015, which meant city officials were celebrating Wednesday. Overall proficiency rates are still hovering around 30 percent in English and 35 percent in math, but in a system with more than 1,200 elementary and middle schools, there are dozens of outliers.

[Read more about this year’s test score results, and the latest opt-out tallies, here.]

We combined district and charter data to come up with the schools at the top and bottom of the proficiency spectrum, and also looked at what schools saw the most change by comparing each school’s average scale score from 2014 and 2015. (We chose to look at scale scores, rather than proficiency rates, when looking for big changes this year in order to capture shifts that might not have pushed students across the threshold between levels 2 and 3, but are still notable.)

Top city schools in English proficiency:

1. Baccalaureate School for Global Education (98.1 percent proficient)
2. The Anderson School (96.3)
3. I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School (95.2)
4. New Explorations into Science, Tech and Math High School (93.6)
5. M.S. 255 Salk School of Science (91.2)
6. Scholars’ Academy (91.0)
7. P.S. 77 Lower Lab School (90.9)
8. East Side Middle School (88.5)
9. The 30th Avenue School (88.0)
10. Special Music School (88.0)

There aren’t many surprises on this list. All have selective admissions processes, and some are city-wide gifted and talented schools. Few serve many English language learners or students with disabilities and all have been top performers in prior years.

Bottom city schools in English proficiency:

1. The School for the Urban Environment (0 percent proficient)
2. Harbor Heights (0)
3. Choir Academy of Harlem (0)
4. Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts (0)
5. I.S. 219 New Venture School (1.1)
6. Fairmont Neighborhood School (1.5)
7. Essence School (1.6)
8. P.S. 19 Roberto Clemente (2.1)
9. I.S. 206 Ann Mersereau (2.4)
10. M.S. 596 Peace Academy (2.4)

The statistics are grim for the worst-performing schools in the city, many of which have struggled for years. Four of the schools are part of the city’s “Renewal” turnaround program — Wadleigh, New Venture, Essence, and Peace Academy — and five tested fewer than 50 students last year. Choir Academy of Harlem will close in 2016 due to low performance, and P.S. 19 Roberto Clemente was phased out this past spring. One outlier is Harbor Heights, which serves many English language learners and recent immigrants, many with no prior schooling.

Top city schools in math proficiency:

1. Baccalaureate School For Global Education (100 percent)
2. Success Academy Charter School – Bed-Stuy 1 (99.3)
3. Success Academy Charter School – Williamsburg (98.7)
4. P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence (98.3)
5. Success Academy Charter School – Upper West (98.2)
6. The Anderson School (97.9)
7. I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School (97.5)
8. Success Academy Charter School – Harlem 4 (96.4)
9. New Explorations into Science, Tech and Math High School (96.4)
10. Success Academy Charter School – Bronx 2 (96.3)

Half of the city’s top performers in math are repeats from the list of top-performing reading schools. The other half are Success Academy charter schools, which are known for their high test scores.

Bottom city schools in math proficiency:

1. Choir Academy of Harlem (0.0 percent)
2. Life Science Secondary School (0.0)
3. Academy for Social Action: A College Board School (0.0)
4. Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts (0.0)
5. General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science (0.0)
6. Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence (0.8)
7. East Fordham Academy for the Arts (0.9)
8. I.S. 219 New Venture School (1.0)
9. New Directions Secondary School (1.1)
10. Lyons Community School (1.2)

Three of these are Renewal schools: Wadleigh, New Venture, and Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence. General D. Chappie James was phased out this spring, as was Academy for Social Action, and Choir Academy is set to close.

Biggest positive change in English scores:

1. P.S. 971 School of Math, Science and Healthy Living (+9.9 percent)
2. P.S. 261 Philip Livingston (+6.6%)
3. P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier (+5.9%)
4. Brownsville Collaborative Middle School (+5.8%)
4. Teaching Firms of America – Professional Preparatory Charter School (+5.8%)
6. P.S. 125 Ralph Bunche (+5.4%)
6. Imagine Me Leadership Charter School (+5.4%)
8. P.S. 190 Sheffield (+5.3%)
8. East Harlem Scholars Academy Charter School (+5.3%)
10. P.S. 452 in Manhattan (+5.1%)

P.S. 971 opened in 2010 in a new building in Sunset Park, and P.S. 261 is a popular elementary school in Brooklyn’s District 15. Brownsville Collaborative was cited by the Daily News earlier this year for having only one of 106 students pass state reading exams in 2014, while the school-review site Insideschools called Ralph Bunche a “school to watch” a few months ago, noting its improvement under Principal Reginald Higgins.

Biggest negative change in English scores:

1. Riverdale Avenue Community School (-6.8%)
2. P.S. 106 in Queens (-6.7%)
3. The Fresh Creek School (-5.2%)
4. P.S. 40 George W. Carver (-5.1%)
5. General D. Chappie James Elementary School of Science (-4.9%)
6. P.S. 51 Bronx New School (-4.5%)
7. Urban Science Academy (-4%)
7. Great Oaks Charter School (-4%)
9. P.S. 54 Samuel C. Barnes (-3.9%)
9. STEM Institute of Manhattan (-3.9%)

Riverdale Avenue Community School in Brownsville saw a high percentage of students opt out of the tests this year. P.S. 106 became better known as the “School of No” this year after the New York Post ran a series of stories about its often-absent principal (who was since removed). Urban Science Academy is in the city’s Renewal program.

Biggest positive change in math scores:

1. School of Math, Science, and Healthy Living (+8.1%)
2. P.S. 212 in the Bronx (+6.3%)
2. Imagine Me Leadership Charter School (+6.3%)
4. Academy of the City Charter School (+6.2%)
5. Brooklyn Arbor Elementary School (+6.1%)
6. P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott (+5.6%)
7. P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier (+4.8%)
8. Unity Prep Charter School (+4.7%)
9. Medgar Evers College Preparatory School (+4.6%)
9. P.S. 330 in Queens (+4.6%)

Medgar Evers College Preparatory is run by Michael Wiltshire, the principal also doing the high-profile job of improving the troubled Boys and Girls High School. P.S. 215 has phased out, and P.S. 330 is new and growing.

Biggest negative change in math scores:

1. STEM Institute of Manhattan (-7.7%)
2. General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science (-7.3%)
3. Harlem Link Charter School (-6.4%)
4. I.S. M286 Renaissance Leadership Academy (-5.8%)
5. Explore Charter School (-5%)
6. The UFT Charter School (-4.5%)
6. Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Academy: A College Board School (-4.5%)
8. Lyons Community School (-4.4%)
9. Explore Empower Charter School (-4.3%)
10. Invictus Preparatory Charter School (-4.2%)
10. P.S. 51 Bronx New School (-4.2%)

The UFT Charter School closed its elementary and middle schools this spring, while Lyons, Chappie, and the Bronx’s P.S. 51 are repeats from the reading list.

union power

Charter teachers won big in nation’s first strike. What now?

PHOTO: Yana Kunichoff / Chalkbeat
Teachers from Acero charter schools in Chicago protest stalled negotiations Oct. 24, 2018, as they readied to vote on authorizing a strike.

Some 500 unionized teachers joined in the nation’s first charter strike last week, and succeeded in negotiating wage increases, smaller class sizes and a shorter school day. Their gains could foreshadow next year’s citywide contract negotiations — between the Chicago Teachers Union, with its contract expiring in June, and Chicago Public Schools.

“The issue of class size is going to be huge,” said Chris Geovanis, the union’s director of communications. “It is a critically important issue in every school.”

Unlike their counterparts in charters, though, teachers who work at district-run schools can’t technically go on strike to push through a cap on the number of students per class. That’s because the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act defines what issues non-charter public school teachers can bargain over, and what issues can lead to a strike.

An impasse on issues of compensation or those related to working conditions, such as length of the school day or teacher evaluations, could precipitate a strike. But disagreements over class sizes or school closures, among other issues, cannot be the basis for a strike.

The number of students per class has long been a point of contention among both district and charter school teachers.

Educators at Acero had hopes of pushing the network to limit class sizes to 24-28 students, depending on the grade. However, as Acero teachers capped their fourth day on the picket line, they reached an agreement with the charter operator on a cap of 30 students — down from the current cap of 32 students.

Andy Crooks, a special education apprentice, also known as a teacher’s aide, at Acero’s Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz school and a member of the teachers bargaining team, said that even having two fewer students in a classroom would make a huge difference.

“You really do get a lot more time with your students,” Crooks said. “And if you are thinking about kindergarten in particular, two less 5-year-olds really can help set the tone of the classroom.”

In district-run schools, classes are capped at 28 students in kindergarten through third grade, and at 31 students in fourth through sixth grade. But a survey by the advocacy group Parents 4 Teachers, which supports educators taking on inequality, found that during the 2017-2018 school year, 21 percent of K-8 classrooms had more students than district guidelines allowed. In 18 elementary school classrooms, there were 40 or more students.

The issue came up at last week’s Board of Education meeting, at which Ivette Hernandez, a parent of a first-grader at Virgil Grissom Elementary School in the city’s Hegewisch neighborhood, said her son’s classes have had more than 30 students in them. When the children are so young and active — and when they come into classrooms at so many different skill levels — “the teachers can’t handle 30 kids in one class,” she told the board.

Alderman Sue Garza, a former counselor, accompanied Hernandez. She also spoke before the board about classroom overcrowding — worrying aloud that, in some grades at one school in particular, the number of students exceeded the building’s fire codes. (Board chair Frank Clark said a district team would visit the school to ensure compliance fire safety policies.)

While the Chicago Teachers Union aren’t technically allowed to strike over class sizes, the union does have a history of pushing the envelope when it comes to bargaining.

Back in 2012, when the Chicago Teachers Union last went on strike, they ended up being able to secure the first limit on class sizes in 20 years because the district permitted the union to bargain over class size.

They also led a bargaining campaign that included discussion over racial disparities in Chicago education and school closures, arguing that these trends impacted the working conditions of teachers.

“Even if you can’t force an employer to bargain over an issue, you can push them to bargain over the impact of an issue,” Bob Bruno, a labor professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, explained.

The Chicago Teachers Union also emerged from its 2012 negotiations with guarantees of additional “wraparound services,” such as access to onsite social workers and school counselors.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

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