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September 10, 2013
Q&A: Klein disciple Nadelstern laments end of disruptive era
As Mayor Bloomberg’s term in office comes to an end in New York City, mayoral candidates have been quick to denounce many of his education policies. A recent poll found that a majority of residents disapprove of the outgoing mayor’s handling of public schools, and the current crop of candidates are unhappy with school closures and the school grading system currently in place. The Bloomberg administration can count Eric Nadelstern, former deputy chancellor for school support and instruction under Bloomberg and currently a professor of Practice in Educational Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, as one of its staunchest defenders. Nadelstern spoke to The Hechinger Report about his thoughts on the future of public education in New York City and his recent book 10 Lessons From New York City Schools, about his 40 years of experience working in public education. Question: There’ll be a new mayor in the city soon. Any trepidation that some of the policies you talk favorably about in your book might end? Answer: Sad to say, but I think they’ve changed already under the old mayor. I see networks being redirected away from school support to more central office compliance matters which disturbs me. I see the core curriculum being mandated in a way that was reminiscent of the old days in the way superintendents mandate curriculum rather than rolled it out in a way that creates a lot of options for schools on how to creatively engage around it or not if they choose to. And those decisions and policies trouble me. Certainly under a new mayor I think two main areas in greatest jeopardy are the issues of school closings that also creates the opportunity to open new schools as well as whether the non-geographic network structure may return to the old-time district structure headed by superintendents. Politicians in particular favor the old structure because they could exploit it to their benefit more easily. Q: What changes are you talking about?
April 17, 2013
Efforts to boost test security leave proctoring rules unchanged
Most students taking this week's state reading test are doing so under the watchful eyes of their regular classroom teacher. Teachers proctor their own students' exams in most schools, in an arrangement that is logistically simple and keeps students calm — but also represents a soft spot in the state's efforts to prevent cheating. As part of its recent efforts to safeguard against fraud, New York State has reduced educators' access to tests before they are administered and increased scrutiny on tests after they are returned to see whether answers were changed unusually often. The latter measure, known as erasure analysis, helped investigators uncover adult cheating in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., in recent years. But even as the state has taken steps to prevent improprieties at a time when ensuring that scores accurately reflect student performance is increasingly important, it has left proctoring relatively unregulated. Erasure analysis and pre-test security can't reveal whether students were advised to check their work on specific questions or, more egregiously, were actually given the answers while they took the tests. "Test administration with educators proctoring their own students is one of the weak links in the testing process," said Greg Cizek, a professor at the University of North Carolina who specializes in educational measurement and test security.
March 29, 2013
In reports, validation for city's high school gains, but not its data
An independent research group with access to a trove of the city's education data concluded that most of the Bloomberg administration's claims of high school progress are credible. But in a different report commissioned by a nonprofit group that manages some city high schools, researchers found that the city's tools for evaluating schools do not treat schools with higher-need students fairly. The two reports come as the Bloomberg administration concludes a three-term spree of policy changes meant to spur improvement in the city's high schools. The spree included dozens of school closures and the creation of hundreds of new high schools, along with accountability metrics such as the annual "progress report" to make school performance transparent. Whether to continue the policies and accountability measures will be a major choice facing the next mayor.
December 5, 2012
School ratings inch up a bit
The latest state school ratings show slight increases in performance, according to new data from the Department of Education.
October 1, 2012
More schools met threshold for closure on new progress reports
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky briefed reporters on the new progress report cards this morning. Almost twice as many elementary and middle schools are eligible for closure under the Department of Education’s longstanding rules this year, according to the schools’ 2011-2012 progress reports. Since 2007, the city has given schools a letter grade each year based largely on calculations of their students’ test scores. Schools that receive an F, D, or three consecutive C’s or worse can be closed. Last year, 120 schools fell into that category, and the department ultimately moved to close 10 of them. But this year, 217 schools received those grades, suggesting that this year’s closure toll could be greater than in the past. The most dramatic change was a jump in schools receiving their third straight grade of C or below — from just five last year to 114 this year. The striking jump is a late-onset effect of the state’s 2010 decision to raise the proficiency bar on its state tests. In 2009, just two schools had received F’s and 84 percent earned A’s. But that year, most schools saw their test scores fall, and nearly 70 percent of schools saw their progress report grades drop, too. The progress reports released today were the third since the change. Caught in the metrics were some popular schools, such as Central Park East I and the Earth School in Manhattan, as well as 16 of Staten Island’s 52 elementary and middle schools.
September 12, 2012
State Board gets preview of district ratings
The number of struggling school districts is expected to grow slightly in 2012 but the mix has changed somewhat, state leaders say.
June 29, 2012
In nick of time, city drops data on students who didn't graduate
Minutes after the close of business hours today — a summer Friday already packed with education news — the city released the first set of required reports about students who left middle school and high school last year without graduating. Some students leave their schools for good reasons, such as when their families leave the city. But others are dropping out. In 2011, an audit by the state comptroller found evidence that the city might have underreported its dropout rate by classifying many dropouts as “discharges,” the term for students who have provided good reasons for leaving school and evidence to support their explanations. The audit followed a 2009 report by a researcher and an advocate that suggested that the city was increasingly exploiting the reporting loophole to inflate the graduation rate. Alarmed by the reports, the City Council took up the cause and a year ago passed a local law requiring the Department of Education to report annually on how many students leave school and why. The first reports were due today.
May 31, 2012
After closure scare, Opportunity Charter gets five-year renewal
Opportunity Charter School's principal, Marya Baker, is optimistic about the Harlem school's future. Months after fighting to stay open, a troubled Harlem charter school has secured a long-term future after the Department of Education recommended that it receive the longest-possible charter renewal. Last fall, Opportunity Charter School was one of six charter schools whose performance landed them on the city's short-list for closure. Now the city is locked in legal battles to shutter two of schools, Peninsula Preparatory Academy and Williamsburg Charter High School. But Opportunity is set to keep its doors open until at least 2017. It's good news for Opportunity, a middle and high school that has had its share of performance and management troubles in recent years. The Harlem school stands apart from many charter schools because it serves older students and maintains an even balance of students with disabilities and students who do not require special education services. “Opportunity Charter is incredibly pleased to have been recognized by the city for all the hard work we do,” said Principal Marya Baker while chaperoning the school’s prom in the Bronx last Friday. “I think that we’re finally being recognized for being successful for a model that is incredibly difficult and something we feel we do very well — that is, having an inclusive setting for 50 percent of our students who have special needs.” The about-face is especially remarkable because the city recommended a shortened charter renewal for Opportunity in January. Short-term renewals are given when a charter school has failed to fulfill performance promises but is considered capable of improvement. Opportunity got one in 2010.
May 29, 2012
Feds grant NY a waiver to swap new promises for NCLB rules
New York State will be freed from the most onerous requirements of the decade-old No Child Left Behind law, under the terms of a waiver awarded today by the U.S. Department of Education. In exchange, the state will begin assessing districts and schools on their students' progress instead of simply their performance — and districts that fall short will get extra funding and support starting this fall. Lists of lagging schools, which will now be known as "Focus" schools, will be released by the end of June, according to a State Education Department spokesman. The state will also publish lists of "Reward" schools that will merit extra funds because of their strong performance. The Obama administration introduced the waiver program as a way around Congress, which so far has declined to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, renamed No Child Left Behind during George W. Bush's presidency. NCLB required all students to be "proficient" by 2014 in a quixotic that goal left more schools labeled as failing each year without urging states to action. “The waiver lets New York move away from NCLB requirements that were unproductive or unrealistic,” said State Education Commissioner King in a statement. “We can evaluate schools in terms of both student growth and proficiency and recognize schools in which students are making good progress toward meeting standards of college and career readiness.”
April 19, 2012
Budget passes Senate, goes back to JBC
The largely harmonious process of developing next year’s state budget took another big step with 30-5 Senate approval Thursday.
March 28, 2012
Plug pulled on parent trigger bill
A parent trigger bill – its sponsor called it more of a “flare” – has been killed by a Senate committee.
March 19, 2012
Glimmer of hope in revenue forecasts
Improved state revenue forecasts could mean smaller-than-planned education cuts in 2012-13, and the JBC finally takes action on new testing costs.
February 29, 2012
Trigger bill passes House
Updated - The Colorado House today gave narrow final approval to House Bill 12-1149, the so-called parent trigger bill.
February 23, 2012
A day of much talk, little action
A chaotic day for education bills at the Colorado legislature ended with just one noteworthy bill passed and much work left over for later.
February 9, 2012
State gets its NCLB waiver
Colorado is among 10 states receiving waivers from the No Child Left Behind law, federal officials announced Thursday.
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