data diss

Leading de Blasio critics find a new fault: how New York City rates schools for students with disabilities

PHOTO: Patrick Wall
Mayor Bill de Blasio

New reports designed to help parents judge the quality of programs that serve students with disabilities don’t include essential accountability data, a new analysis argues.

The report by the pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools examines the education department’s recently unveiled “School Quality Snapshots” for District 75 — which serves students with more complicated disabilities. It argues that those new quality reviews leave out useful student achievement data.

Among the new report’s key assertions is that data supplied under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s school quality reports included math and reading test scores and offered a more complete view of student achievement. The new snapshots, by contrast, rely on survey data and more complicated comparison groups that measure test performance among similar students instead of each school’s overall scores.

Education department officials called the report “misleading” and noted that many schools for students with disabilities got no Bloomberg-era public evaluations at all. Just 41 percent of District 75 schools received progress reports in the 2012-13 school year because many of their students did not take state tests, according to the department. An official also noted that since students’ needs vary widely, test scores across District 75 schools are not easily comparable.

The de Blasio administration just unveiled its first reports for District 75 schools last month, after releasing quality reports for traditional schools for two years. Families for Excellent Schools CEO Jeremiah Kittredge called the new snapshots “functionally useless to parents” — the latest jab in a public relations war over de Blasio’s management of the city’s schools.

Lori Podvesker, disability policy manager at INCLUDEnyc and a District 75 parent, said including the testing data that was used under Bloomberg isn’t a useful benchmark. But she said — as she did last month — that the city’s new reports are far from ideal.

“You can’t use the same criteria and quantitative data for students in community schools as you can with District 75 schools for the majority of students — that’s a real miss,” Podvesker said after reviewing the Families for Excellent Schools report. Still, she added, the city could include more useful data on how much progress students are making in their individual learning plans and include more basic information about what programs are offered.

“As a parent, [the city’s new snapshot] doesn’t tell me what programs are available — after school, during school, what kind of arts are offered,” Podvesker said. “We can do a better job.”

You can read the full report here.

#GovTest

Where Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker stand on key education issues, from charters to Chicago’s school board

PHOTO: (Rauner) Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images; (Pritzker) Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Our conversations with Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and challenger J.B. Pritzker will be aired on Oct. 3 on WBEZ 91.5 FM.

The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in U.S. history, and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has probably seen or heard one of the barrage of ads for the candidates. There have been puppies, toilets, and plenty of barbs over wealth and taxes — and the back-and-forth has drowned out the discussion over where the candidates stand on education, arguably one of the most crucial policy areas facing the state.

To dig deeper, Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

The interviews will be separate, but will be broadcast back-to-back on WBEZ 91.5 FM on Oct. 3 starting at 8 a.m.  

In advance of the discussion, Chalkbeat and WBEZ asked each candidate for his position on five questions, and we’ve reprinted their answers in their entirety. We’re also soliciting interview suggestions from our readers and listeners. Use this form to submit a question to us, and follow along with the discussion on Oct. 3 using #GovTest.

#GovTest

What would you ask Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker about education?

Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

Use the form below to submit questions for the conversations, which will air back-to-back on Oct. 3 at 8 a.m.