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November 6, 2008
Bonuses to high-performing schools a budget casualty
The Department of Education would abandon a program it launched last year to reward schools that earned A's on their progress reports, under the budget cut proposal Mayor Bloomberg released yesterday. The program was supposed to give $30 per student to schools that earned both an A grade on the progress report and a "well-developed" score on their Quality Review. That money, which entered the school's general budget, was separate from awards given to principals and teachers in high-performing schools. But now, as part of a $180 million reduction in DOE spending ordered by the mayor, the $3.4 million earmarked to pay schools this year for their 2007-2008 performance is slated to be slashed from the department's budget. When bonuses were awarded for the first time, last January, 134 schools qualified. The number skyrocketed in the reports' second year, to more than 380 elementary and middle schools. The higher grades followed a wave of higher test scores across New York State. Even more schools could have been awarded bonuses: High school progress reports haven't yet been released. As far as I can tell, progress report bonuses are the only element of Chancellor Joel Klein's accountability initiatives that are already slated for elimination. I've posted the mayor's complete list of proposed budget reductions for the DOE below the jump. Do you see others?
November 6, 2008
Quietly, the $80 million data system launches — er, relaunches
A year after the program was launched to a widespread "meh," the $80 million ARIS data system that is supposed to give educators and families detailed information about students' performance in school is now online, all over again! This week, principals are beginning half-day training sessions to learn how to access their students' data, and soon they will sign up two members of their staff to become in-house experts on the system. Signing up staff members is listed as a "***REQUIRED/HIGH PRIORITY***" item in this week's newsletter from Chancellor Joel Klein to principals. This launch is going to get political fast, especially in this budget climate. Many groups, including the teachers union, principals union, and an immigrant families group, have singled out ARIS as a line item that should be first on the chopping block. In terms of slicing jobs, the accountability office, which has been ballooning in size, partly in order to manage ARIS, is an easy target. (Right now the Department of Education lists nine job openings in the accountability office.) The administration will argue that without ARIS, the department could not execute its innovative initiatives.
October 31, 2008
New York ahead of the curve on new NCLB graduation rules
Satellite Academy graduate (via flickr) New federal regulations are going to force many states to change the way they report high school graduation rates.
October 29, 2008
Klein defends courier fees, says transporting tests is important
A bike courier (via Flickr) Chancellor Joel Klein is defending the estimated $5 million that the Department of Education will spend this year on couriers who hand-deliver documents between school locations. Juan Gonzalez at the Daily News reported on the expenses this morning. A large portion of the expenses, $2 million, are being incurred by the Office of Accountability, which uses couriers to deliver a new set of tests to a computer center in Queens, so that they can be processed, Gonzalez reported. The interim assessments are given out in English and math and are meant to give teachers an idea of which skills and information their students are absorbing and which they aren't before the annual standardized test. Speaking to reporters covering the launch of the new Research Alliance for the city schools this morning, Chancellor Joel Klein defended the accountability office's use of couriers. He said teachers deserve up-to-the-minute information on how their students are doing. Klein added that ARIS, the new data warehouse that will be re-launched next month, could ease the expenses of transporting paper score reports. Some schools already use online tests, which have a faster turnaround time for scoring and require no courier expense.
October 28, 2008
Coming soon: NAEP results on state and city report cards
States and school districts will have to revise their accountability reports to include scores on a national test known as the nation’s report card, the…
October 24, 2008
High hopes for new ARIS data warehouse after stumbles
Elissa Gootman's story in the Times today on the non-functionality of the $80 million ARIS data warehouse system is important because it lays bare what teachers have known for months: ARIS was supposed to give parents and teachers radically more access to student achievement data, but in practice it suffered from frequent malfunctions and currently is providing zero information. I've been talking to people familiar with the new version of ARIS, slated to be released in November. They tell me this new software is a huge improvement over the ARIS released last year. Even with new software about two weeks away from debut, there remain two major unanswered questions about the Department of Education's effort to build a massive data warehouse. The first question is whether the contractor, IBM, made mistakes that could have been avoided — and whether some portion of the taxpayer dollars slated to go to IBM, which total $80 million, should be paid back. The second question is whether a program like ARIS is necessary at all.
October 20, 2008
DOE's progress reports attract 9 of 12 biggest school districts
School districts all over the country have reached out to the city’s Department of Education to learn more about its school progress…
October 1, 2008
Many open questions in state's "Growth for All" accountability plan
Not only is New York State proposing a "proficiency plus" accountability model that will take both absolute proficiency and student growth towards proficiency on state reading and math tests into consideration, it is also looking at creating a "growth for all" system to reward schools who move already proficient students to even higher levels of proficiency, and, perhaps, penalize schools where proficient students do not make additional gains. This part of the accountability system would not require federal approval, presenters stressed at last week's public forum on the model. According to the presentation by Ira Schwartz of the state education department, many ideas are still on the table for where to set the bar for growth, how to compare students and schools, and what positive or negative incentives schools could expect under the new system. First, the state must determine what schools should strive for in educating students who already test proficient. Is it enough that students continue to test above the proficiency cutoff, or must they show one year's growth or more when scale scores are compared? The question echoes this summer's debate over whether to emphasize the "proficiency gap" or the "achievement gap" in looking at student performance. Asked whether some parents and educators might choose to improve the teaching of non-tested subjects such as art, music, and physical education rather than devoting more resources to helping proficient students score even higher, Schwartz responded that the Regents had specifically asked for a way to hold schools accountable for the growth of all students. Next, the state must decide how to compare schools. New York City's Progress Reports got a nod for their peer group comparison,
September 29, 2008
State's accountability proposal projects growth towards proficiency
In October, New York State is submitting a growth model proposal to the U.S. Department of Education, I learned at last week's public forum on the proposal. What would school and district accountability look like under the new model? For grades 3-8, schools would earn points towards meeting Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) for each student scoring proficient or above (a level 3 or 4 on state tests), but would also earn full points for level 1 and 2 students whose growth indicates that they are on track to become proficient within a four-year period. A simplified example of how the growth model would determine whether a student is on-track to proficiency. The graph above provides an oversimplified example. The blue line represents the cutoff score for proficiency at each grade level. Bill and Ted each start out 100 points below proficient. In 4th grade, Bill has gained enough that he is now only 70 points below proficient. As you can see by the red line, if he continued to grow at this rate, he would reach proficiency easily by 7th grade. Therefore, Bill is deemed to be on-track to proficiency, and his school would get full credit towards Annual Yearly Progress for him. Ted, on the other hand, is still 95 points below proficient in 4th grade. He made more than a year's growth, but if he continues to grow at this rate, he will not reach proficiency by 7th grade. Ted's school would not get full-credit towards AYP for him. Of course, in real life, students don't grow at exactly the same rate every year.
September 26, 2008
State proposes "proficiency plus" accountability model
Dozens of educators, policymakers, and advocates gathered at United Federation of Teachers headquarters this morning for the first in a series of public forums…
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