Accountability

New York

New accountability chief says he'll carry on Liebman's legacy

New York

NYU is building an accountability system to measure its teachers

Robert Tobias The former testing czar at the old Board of Education, Robert Tobias, sometimes offers criticism of the accountability programs being produced these days at Tweed Courthouse. He's also been hatching an accountability system of his own — this one to study the effectiveness of teachers produced by New York University's school of education, where he now works. Preliminary results suggest that teachers trained at NYU are getting above-average results in English, but they give students no extra boost on math tests, Tobias said last week at the educational research conference Philissa and I attended in San Diego. He also found that NYU-trained elementary-school teachers produced significantly greater results for students than middle-school teachers, and that the teachers get better as they become more experienced. The effect tapers off at between five and nine years into the job, he said. Tobias's results could provide one clue about what's being found in an ongoing research project about teacher training programs in New York City. So far, that project has found that different programs produced different student results but has not named the programs that had the largest effects. The results could also be important as alternative teacher training programs like Teach For America increasingly bring into question the need for traditional programs based entirely at universities. "As a dean I want to say I want to steal these three and have them do it at my school," said Rick Ginsberg, who runs the education school at the University of Kansas, referring to the professors working with Tobias. “We’re fighting this battle all the time.”
New York

Shuttered schools, high scores mean state failing list shrinks

The number of schools considered to be failing state standards dropped to an all-time low this year, both among city schools and schools across New York state, according to a new list released by the state education department today. The state has been using student test scores to make the list of schools placed "under registration review" since 1989. Every year, the state makes avoiding the list slightly harder, by raising the bar for how many students need to pass exams. Schools placed on the list risk being shut down; of the more than 300 schools placed on the list since 1989, 228 have been removed. Today's list, which includes 43 schools statewide, takes into account test scores from last school year, which skyrocketed across the state in reading and math for students between grades 3 and 8. Thirteen New York City schools improved their test scores enough to climb off the list of schools categorized as being "under registration review," while four city schools joined the list. Another three city schools would have joined the list, but are being shut down by the city. As Elissa Gootman reports at CityRoom, the Times metro blog, two of the four city schools joining the list — West Bronx Academy and New Explorers High School — are among the recent new small schools created by Mayor Bloomberg as part of his effort to improve the school system. The other schools are Boys and Girls High School and PS 230 in the Bronx. Three schools, Samuel Tilden High School, a large high school in Brooklyn, Business School For Entrepreneurial Studies in the Bronx, and South Shore High School in Brooklyn, would have been put on the state failing list but are being shut down by the city.
New York

Getting an F or a D led schools to assign fewer essays, projects

New York

After abuse, a call for school bus drivers to get new training

All school bus drivers would have to be re-trained immediately and citizens could call in concerns about individual drivers to a city hotline, if the city followed a list of demands Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum issued yesterday. The demands come on the heels of reports of school bus abuse, including a 7-year-old stranded on a bus in Queens this month, a four-year-old Brooklyn child stranded on a school bus last month, and a severely disabled 22-year-old left on a freezing school bus overnight January 1. Asked whether the city will follow Gotbaum's demands, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, Marge Feinberg, said, "We have an effective policy in place that suspends bus personnel for half a year for the first infraction and decertifies them if it happens again." According to the policy, drivers who leave children alone on a bus have their licenses suspended for 180 days. The licenses are revoked if they commit an error a second time. School officials also pointed out that two of the three most recent cases of abuse happened on private buses, not school buses run by the DOE. (The 4-year-old in Brooklyn was riding a DOE school bus.) In a press release, Gotbaum points out that while cosmetologists in the city have to register 1,000 hours of training, school bus drivers are required to put in just 10 hours of training and two three-hour refresher courses a year. She also cites a 2007 Daily News investigation that found that the Department of Education hid 225 cases of bus abuse, including one case where a bus driver beat a student with special needs. (Since then, the Department of Education has taken steps to prevent hidden abuse in the future, hiring a new chief manager of the investigative unit and a slew of experienced investigators, Feinberg said.) Gotbaum's full list of demands is below the jump.
New York

School support organizations will be graded, too — and publicly

The organizations that schools can choose to affiliate with for bureaucratic support, like New Visions for Public Schools, the Knowledge Network, and the Empowerment network, are being graded this month for their effectiveness. The Department of Education's accountability office is writing the grades of the "school support organizations," and Chief Schools Officer Eric Nadelstern said the outcome will eventually be made public. "It will definitely be public before schools have to make the selection as to which SSO they want to affiliate with next year, so that parents and teachers and principals can make that decision on the basis of all sorts of factors," Nadelstern said yesterday. The school support organizations were created last year as part of an overhaul of the school system's bureaucracy. Rather than being forced to report to the superintendent in their neighborhood, schools can shop around among a set of support organizations to decide which bureaucracy they prefer. This is the first year that the support organizations will be graded, since they've now amassed a year's worth of a track record in student test scores. Nadelstern said that the accountability office, headed up by Columbia law professor Jim Liebman, is basing its grades on both schools' progress report cards and on their quality reviews, written reports about schools based on in-person interviews and observations. The report cards have come under heavy criticism for being statistically problematic, if not meaningless.