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December 18, 2017
With new ‘Rise’ schools, de Blasio tiptoes through a school-closure minefield
For some schools, Monday’s announcement was a long-awaited boost. Twenty-one schools were named Rise schools, a new designation meant to indicate their progress.
October 18, 2017
Three years in, some signs of (slight) academic growth at struggling ‘Renewal’ schools
“The reality is it’s hard to get large increases in struggling schools.”
July 11, 2017
Conservative think tank finds ‘meaningful’ academic progress at New York City’s Renewal schools
The report estimates Renewal boosted student achievement by the equivalent of about 93 days of extra instruction in reading and 65 days in math.
An education U-turn
June 21, 2017
Do struggling schools in New York City’s Renewal turnaround program outperform those left out? A new analysis suggests no
“The scale of resources for the system to intervene in poverty is a very hard thing to do and it’s likely you won’t soon see the results you want.”
rhetoric and realism
December 3, 2015
Renewal schools get three years to meet one-year goals, clashing with mayor’s rhetoric
The goals raise questions about the extent and pace of change that education officials expect to result from the nearly $400 million turnaround program.
scrutinizing the scores
October 28, 2015
Consistent with national trends, city and state NAEP results show little change
New York City and New York state’s scores on the test known as the nation’s report card stagnated this year, with fourth-grade math scores declining slightly.
team of rivals
April 30, 2015
Seven ed research heavyweights to head to Albany to help direct evaluation overhaul
Harvard economist Thomas Kane is one of seven experts who accepted an invitation to weigh in on the debate, according to a department memo.
November 25, 2014
How de Blasio is perpetuating Bloomberg’s myth of the failing school
Education professor David Bloomfield: In his renewal plan for struggling schools, Mayor de Blasio has mistakenly fallen for a myth usually promoted by his conservative adversaries: that failure is the fault of individual schools, not the school system.
August 6, 2014
State releases about half of test questions from 2014 state exams
Educators and parents looking to understand—or critique—New York's state tests have about half of the questions to work with, which some critics say still isn't enough.
July 3, 2014
Summer school enrollment falls sharply after city reduces role of state tests
The steep decline comes less than three months after officials announced they were changing grade promotion standards put in place by the Bloomberg administration during a decade-long push to ban “social promotion.”
August 9, 2013
2013's test score takeaways, starting with what didn't change
The new tests did nothing to displace old inequities, and charter school performance ranged just as widely as other schools' performance.
March 6, 2012
Integral to "value-added" is a requirement that some score low
Add one more point of critique to the city’s Teacher Data Reports: Experts and educators are worried about the bell curve along which the teacher ratings fell out. Like the distribution of teachers by rating across types of schools, the distribution of scores among teachers was essentially built into the “value-added” model that the city used to generate the ratings. The long-term goal of many education reformers is to create a teaching force in which nearly all teachers are high-performing. However, in New York City’s rankings — which rated thousands of teachers who taught in the system from 2007 to 2010 — teachers were graded on a curve. That is, under the city’s formula, some teachers would always be rated as “below average,” even if student performance increased significantly in all classrooms across the city. The ratings were based on a complex formula that predicts how students will do — after taking into account background characteristics — on standardized tests. Teachers received scores based on students’ actual test results measured against the predictions. They were then divided into five categories. Half of all teachers were rated as “average,” 20 percent were “above average,” and another 20 percent were “below average.” The remaining 10 percent were divided evenly between teachers rated as “far above average” and “far below average.” IMPACT, the District of Columbia’s teacher-evaluation system, also uses a set distribution for teacher ratings. As sociologist Aaron Pallas wrote in October 2010, “by definition, the value-added component of the D.C. IMPACT evaluation system defines 50 percent of all teachers in grades four through eight as ineffective or minimally effective in influencing their students’ learning.”
May 16, 2011
As Regents near teacher eval vote, researchers express concern
If the Board of Regents approves a proposal today to double the weight of student test scores in teacher evaluations, they'll be spurning the advice of 10 leading education researchers. The researchers — who include Linda Darling-Hammond and New Yorkers Aaron Pallas and Henry Levin — sent a letter to the Regents yesterday that summarizes studies that they say point to problems with basing teacher evaluations on student scores. Those problems include teaching to the test and disincentives to help students with special needs. "We urge you to reject proposals that would place significant emphasis on this untested strategy that could have serious negative consequences for teacher[s] and for the most vulnerable students in the State’s schools," the researchers say. Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week told the Regents that he thought test scores should play a larger role in teacher evaluations. The state's year-old teacher evaluation law bases 20 percent of teachers' evaluations on student test scores and another 20 percent on local measures of student achievement. The proposal being considered today would allow districts, with the approval of their local teachers unions, to use the same measures for both parts of teachers' evaluations. The Regents meeting is being broadcast online beginning at 4:45 p.m.
January 5, 2010
Stanford study shows many city charters besting district schools
A chart from the CREDO study shows black and Hispanic students in charter schools have higher scores on reading and math tests than peers in district schools. Students in nearly 50 charter schools across the city are outperforming their peers in district schools on state tests, according to a study by an education research group at Stanford University. The report, which was done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, known as CREDO, uses the same methodology the group used when looking at the performance of charter schools in several states across the country. Looking at 49 city charter schools from the 2003-04 to 2008-09 school years, CREDO matched data from about 20,000 students in grades 3-8 to an identical number of students with comparable scores at local competing district schools. Though the Department of Education asked CREDO to do the analysis, the foundation procured its own funding for it. CREDO's study of charter schools across the country offered a mixed picture — charter schools in some states did better than local schools, while others did worse — but New York City stands out as having a particularly successful crop of charter schools.
September 23, 2009
Among new small high schools, enrollment patterns vary
The students who enroll at new small schools are not always just like those who enrolled at the large high schools they replaced, a new study has found. The study, by Aaron Pallas, a professor at Columbia University's Teachers College and Jennifer Jennings, an assistant professor at New York University, confirms Jennings' earlier analysis of student enrollment patterns on the Evander Childs High School campus. But it also suggests that when it comes to who enrolls, not all new small schools are alike. "New small schools don't look that different overall. But the ones that replaced large schools do," Pallas said last night at a presentation sponsored by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.
September 3, 2009
Aaron Pallas: "Progress" measurement on reports still random
Last year, Teachers College sociologist Aaron Pallas concluded that the city’s progress report formula generated results that were wildly inconsistent from year to year,…
June 24, 2009
City to roll out a new "parent-friendly" school progress report
After years of criticism that its school report cards are too difficult for most parents to understand, the city is redesigning the report cards that give each school a letter grade. Starting this fall, the Department of Education will produce one-page progress reports that contain only the most important pieces of performance data about each school. The new reports are meant to deliver complicated accountability information "in a more parent-friendly way," according to Phil Vaccaro, a representative of the department's accountability office. Vaccaro presented a draft of the new report to the city school board yesterday. The "progress report family summary" has the same content but a different design from the data-packed two-pager currently produced for each school. For example, instead of having eight different numbers to describe student progress, there is just one, the proportion of students who made a year's progress in a single year. A member of the school board, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, worked with the department to develop the new reports. "We need to present them in ways parents can understand," he said, adding that parents who misunderstood the reports could make misinformed school choices. Critics of the progress reports said the family summary might actually be too simple.
June 2, 2009
A statistician offers a caveat on single-school score celebrations
It's not news to report that statistics can be deceptive. But when a new set of test scores come out, it's worth repeating nonetheless. Teachers College sociologist Aaron Pallas tackles the subject in the Community section of GothamSchools today, by taking a closer look at two middle schools that the Post has recently highlighted for exceptional performance and finding that both schools admit their students selectively. He writes: Due to their selective admissions, IS 187 and, to a lesser extent, IS 364 were born on third base. The New York Post thinks they hit a triple. Some schools might have hit something closer to a home run. Manhattan's citywide Anderson School, for instance, admitted every single one of its students in grades 3-8 on the basis of their scores on an IQ test and in-person interview. Not a single student at Anderson failed the math test, and in fact it was the only school citywide with a clean 100 percent of all students in a single grade scoring at the very highest level, in the sixth grade. Not all successful schools handpick their students.
May 7, 2009
State officials herald "moderate" progress on English test
A screenshot (including a caption) from today's online press conference about state test scores, featuring State Education Commissioner Richard Mills and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. More students across New York State scored proficient on the state reading and writing test this year than ever before, and gains by black and Hispanic students drove the improvements. The difference between white and black students' average scores is now at 18 points, down from 28 in 2006. More students in New York City scored proficient, too; proficiency rose 18 percentage points to 69 percent from 51 percent in 2006. According to the city Department of Education, the difference between the percentage of black and Hispanic children who scored proficient on the test and the percentage of white students who did now stands at 22 percentage points, down from more than 29 three years ago. State school leaders described the gains across New York as "moderate" because much of the increases were driven by a greater proportion of children just squeaking past the proficiency cutoff, State Education Commissioner Richard Mills explained during a press conference this morning. The difference comes from looking at the actual scale scores students received, rather than the percentage of students deemed proficient. Scale scores are considered the most statistically useful way to evaluate test score gains. (Aaron Pallas has written about this on GothamSchools.) Mills explained the distinction by providing three ways to look at this year's sixth-grade scores. The first is by looking purely at what proportion of students in the grade tested at basic proficiency. According to that metric, 81 percent of this year's sixth-graders met proficiency, compared to 60.4 percent of sixth-graders in 2006, the first year of a new statewide curriculum and testing program. Looking at proficiency over time, 69 percent of children in 3rd grade in 2006 met standards; those are the same children who posted an 81 percent proficiency rating as sixth-graders this year. But the scale scores of that same cohort of children actually dropped slightly over the same period, from 669 to 667.
January 27, 2009
Who will make the statistics sing? Meet Professor Aaron Pallas
Teachers College Professor Aaron Pallas Eduwonkette, the soon-to-be NYU professor who specialized in explaining education research to the rest of us, and whose data…
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