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June 22, 2018
I’ve spent years studying the link between SHSAT scores and student success. The test doesn’t tell you as much as you might think.
A standardized test does not predict as well as past school performance, indicating that Mayor Bill de Blasio seems headed in the right direction.
October 2, 2017
22,000 New Yorkers will get new college scholarship from the state after 94,000 applied
Nearly 22,000 New York state students qualified for the first round of the state’s new “Excelsior Scholarship,” which provides free tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools.
July 5, 2017
Students helping students: How free pizza started a Brooklyn teen’s career helping his peers get to college
Growing up in Brooklyn, Jamel Burgess wasn’t sure why some people went to college and others never seemed to make it. Now, he’s well aware…
September 26, 2016
New York City waives CUNY application fee for low-income students
Starting in October, low-income students will be able to apply to City University of New York colleges for free.
July 15, 2016
‘They don’t realize how special they are’: How one guidance counselor defines college readiness
One counselor who helped almost all his Bronx students get into college explains how he did it.
Ready for College
July 7, 2016
How many students are college-ready? Depends on whom you ask
It is extremely difficult to nail down how many students ready for college — and increasingly important.
June 20, 2016
Only 8 percent of New York City teachers are men of color. Here’s how the city is trying to change that
The status quo leaves thousands of students without role models who resemble them, and without teachers who research shows tend to have higher expectations of them.
January 10, 2016
Should a failed Regents exam mean a project-based second chance? Officials set to discuss
The Board of Regents will consider a series of measures on Monday that could shake up the way students across New York State earn a high school diploma.
A league of their own
May 8, 2015
Exclusive: Fariña to let some high schools opt out of her reorganization
Schools in those groups will be affiliated with like-minded high schools from across the city, while most schools are bound by their geographic districts.
May 6, 2014
State launches STEM scholarship for SUNY, CUNY-bound grads
The state is ready to pay some students’ tuition to CUNY or SUNY, if they commit to studying science, technology, engineering, or math, Gov. Andrew…
November 21, 2013
City might pay CUNY application fee for high school students
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said Thursday the city is considering paying students' CUNY application fee. A top city education official on Thursday suggested a relatively inexpensive way to boost the number of high school students who go to college – pay their application fee. Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said the department is considering paying the $65 application fee for high school students applying to the City University of New York, which he said would cost the city about $500,000 annually. “I think it would be a smart move and send a really powerful message to kids,” Polakow-Suransky said during a panel hosted by a group of education philanthropies.
December 20, 2012
Liu says city should pay CUNY tuition for top high school grads
Comptroller John Liu visited UFT headquarters after being elected in 2009. Today, Liu proposed new education and economic policies, including the "community schools" model the UFT favors. The city should ease the path to college for top high school students by promising them free tuition at city colleges, Comptroller John Liu said today in a "State of the City" speech, his second in 2012. In the speech, Liu put forth a slate of policy proposals, including several focused on education, that he said would enhance the city's economic future. Liu is a likely mayoral candidate, but as comptroller his job is to safeguard the city's financial prospects. "The offer of free tuition would help motivate students and elevate CUNY, one of our city’s most valuable gems, to the level of a competitive prize," Liu said, according to his prepared remarks. "It would also be a life-saver for many working families who are struggling to send their kids to college." Liu did not explain how the city could fund the initiative, but it would not cost much. With tuition set at $5,400 a year, even if every student in the top 10 percent of each graduating class enrolled and would not ordinarily receive financial aid — an unlikely scenario — paying their way would cost less than $12 million a year. Other proposals Liu made today would cost the city a lot more.
June 29, 2012
Schools without Regents exams cite success amid shifting tides
City high schools that don't require students to take Regents exams beat city averages on most metrics, even though they serve high-need students at the same rate as other schools, according to a new report. The report, released this week, was produced by a group of the schools, the New York Performance Standards Consortium. But it examines independent data about student performance and persistence in college to find that students in consortium schools graduate at higher rates and are more likely to attend and remain enrolled in college. And it comes as Department of Education officials are increasingly touting the consortium's approach to assessment. The graduation rates are especially high for students with disabilities and English language learners. Nearly 70 percent of ELLs in consortium schools graduate on time, according to the report, compared to about 40 percent across the city. And half of students with disabilities in the consortium schools graduate on time, compared with fewer than a quarter citywide. "What's in [the report] is dynamite," said Michelle Fine, a professor of urban education at City University of New York's Graduate Center. Fine was speaking at a press conference hosted by the New York Civil Liberties Union on alternatives to high-stakes testing earlier this week to announce that more than 1,100 academics had signed a letter opposing states' increasingly reliance on test scores.
June 22, 2012
Walcott, football star urge rising HS students to plan for college
Chancellor Walcott and football player Denard Robinson (center) speak with Javier Sarmiento, an eighth grader at I.S. 195 Roberto Clemente. Sarmiento will be attending Central Park East High School in the fall. In its latest effort to get young, male students thinking about the path to college, the city enlisted glow-sticks and a Big Ten football player.
January 19, 2012
City officials say college readiness rate should double by 2016
Students from the Urban Youth Collaborative present suggestions to boost college readiness before a City Council hearing on the subject. By 2016, the proportion of students who graduate from city high schools ready for college-level work will double, Department of Education officials told skeptical City Council members today. The ambitious projection, made during a hearing on college and career readiness, would require growth that far outstrips even the most liberal assessments of the Department of Education's recent record of improvement. But even then most students would not be considered "college-ready." In 2010, when the city touted a 61 percent four-year graduation rate, just 21 percent of students who had entered high school in four years earlier met the state's college-readiness requirements. A disjuncture has long been visible between what city high schools require for graduation and what the City University of New York expects from new students. Three quarters of the students enrolling in CUNY's two-year colleges must take remedial math or reading classes, and that number has risen along with college attendance rates in recent years, especially as CUNY has toughened its standards. Testifying before members of the council's committees on education and higher education, UFT President Michael Mulgrew accused the city of practicing "social graduation" by giving high school diplomas to students who must repeat high school-level work before starting college classes. But until recently, high school graduation, not college readiness, was considered the gold standard for success testified Shael Polakow-Suransky, the DOE's chief academic officer. He said school officials had been adjusting their priorities to meet rising expectations and were confident that initiatives already underway would substantially change the picture. In particular, he said, new curriculum standards known as the Common Core that are being rolled out this year would push students to develop critical thinking skills required for college-level work.
January 5, 2012
Nonprofit takes aim at college readiness gap in city schools
Jerome Barrett, 17, a senior at the High School for Youth and Community Development at the Erasmus campus in Brooklyn, hangs a star on the wall marking colleges where Bottom Line, New York City students have applied. This fall, Orlando Geigel used his hour-long D train commute from the South Bronx to Brooklyn to practice math problems from a review sheet to prepare for his first set of college finals. The answers were written on the back, but he waited until the end of each ride to check his work. Geigel, a 2011 graduate of the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, rarely studied in high school, and he didn’t think much about it in college, either — until he failed his first midterm in October. That’s when Geigel turned to Bottom Line, New York City, a branch of a 14-year-old counseling program in Boston that aims to address the challenges that lead many low-income, first-generation college students to drop out. Nationally, 89 percent of those students who enter college leave without a degree within six years. The City University of New York reports that just 24 percent of its full-time students — mostly graduates of city high schools — receive degrees within six years of entering college for the first time. The striking statistics have prompted city and state officials to argue for the first time that schools should be judged by their students’ ability to succeed in college. They have also prompted a constellation of nonprofit groups to try to ease the transition from high school to higher education. Some of those groups place privately funded counselors inside schools. Others outsource counseling entirely — in Bottom Line’s case, to an office in Downtown Brooklyn where high school and college students come for individual guidance about applying to college and adjusting to its demands. This year, Bottom Line is working with 125 high school seniors and 20 college freshmen. Those numbers are set to rise to 800 high school students and 850 college students in 2016.
October 24, 2011
Fewer top scores on more robust high school progress reports
Nearly half of students who started ninth grade in 2006 are enrolled in college right now, but only a quarter of them were ready for it, city data shows. The numbers were revealed today when the Department of Education released high school progress reports for last year. For the first time, the reports include data about each school's course offerings and college enrollment rate, although that information will not be factored into schools’ grades until next year. Schools that receive a grade of F or D, or get three C grades in a row, could face closure. This year, 41 schools received D's or F's, an increase over last year, while fewer high schools received A grades than in any year since the progress reports were created in 2007. Speaking to reporters this morning, Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief academic officer, attributed those changes to a tougher set of requirements around student performance on state tests, credit accumulation, and documentation for student discharges. "I think we're tightening things up and we've gotten a more precise result," he said.
February 14, 2011
A new graduate school of education, Relay, to open next fall
The logo of Teacher U, whose founders will create a stand-alone graduate school of education called Relay. The founders of Teacher U, the nonprofit organization that developed a novel way of preparing teachers for low-income schools, will create their own graduate school of education, following a vote by the Board of Regents last week. The new Relay School of Education will be the first stand-alone graduate school of education to open in New York since 1916, when Bank Street College of Education was founded, and the first in memory to prepare teachers while they are serving full-time in classrooms. The new institution will open its doors next fall; current Teacher U students will remain enrolled at their partner school of education, the City University of New York's Hunter College. The Regents' decision inserts a new model for preparing K-12 teachers into New York's education landscape. Unlike alternative certification programs such as Teach for America and the New York City Teaching Fellows, Relay will not rely on existing colleges to provide its teachers with coursework required for certification; the new graduate school of education will design and deliver all of those courses itself. And Relay will likely take teachers who come into the school system through alternative programs like TFA. Meanwhile, unlike most traditional schools of education, Relay will make training teachers its sole priority and will make proven student learning gains a requirement of receiving a Master's degree. The new school has already generated opposition from several existing schools of education, including from a top official at CUNY. In formal responses to the Teacher U group's proposal, leaders of existing schools cited concerns about quality and the fact that, as officials at Fordham University put it, a new graduate school of education would be "duplicative in a market with sufficient program offerings," according to a summary of concerns(PDF) made public by the Regents. The Board of Regents approved the proposal with a unanimous vote and one abstention last week nevertheless, said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the state education department. He added that State Education Commissioner David Steiner, who helped form Teacher U in his last job as dean of the school of education at Hunter College, recused himself from discussions about the application. During recent visits to Teacher U's current program, instruction topics ranged from how to tailor reading discussions to the racial and class backgrounds of students to how to write on a white board without covering your face with your writing arm. Much of Teacher U's curriculum is devoted to passing on lessons learned by teachers at the charter schools that founded Teacher U, such as those collected by Uncommon Schools managing director Doug Lemov in his book Teach Like a Champion.
September 27, 2010
City wins $3 million Gates grant to increase college grad rates
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded New York City $3 million today to more than double the percentage of city college students who earn associate's degrees. Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott said the city's goal is to have 25 percent of City University of New York students earn an associate's degree after three years of college. The city is giving itself until 2010 to reach that objective, and it's got a long way to go. Currently, only 10 percent of the students who enter CUNY complete enough coursework for an associate's degree in three years. Well-prepared students can typically earn this degree in two years. Walcott said the city would also use the grant money to align public high schools' curriculum with what's being taught at CUNY to prevent students from entering college unable to do the work. "One of the things we've been trying to do for a number of years in New York City and what this grant does for us, is make sure our K-12 and our CUNY system are constantly talking together and planning together," he said in a conference call with reporters today.
August 11, 2010
College-readiness reports useful, but not complete, city says
City schools are learning more about how their graduates fare in college. But parents aren’t getting the new reports, at least for now. That’s because the city knows how only a small fraction of graduates perform in college and doesn't want to suggest it has complete information about how well schools prepare their graduates. A data-sharing agreement between the City University of New York and the Department of Education means the city knows more than it ever has about high school graduates enrolled at CUNY schools. But they make up only half of all college-bound graduates, who in turn represent just 60 percent of high school students. The new reports explain whether graduates who enroll in CUNY colleges need to take remedial classes and whether they stay enrolled. But they don’t say anything about the 42 percent of graduates who go to private colleges and colleges outside of the city. And they also leave out the one-third of graduates who don’t go to college at all. Without that information, the reports aren’t terribly useful for parents trying to figure out how well schools prepare students for college, and they could give inaccurate impressions of how well schools compare to each other, said Shael Polakow-Suransky, the deputy chancellor in charge of accountability. “You could have really misleading information if you try to make a comparison [between schools], because there are variables missing,” he said.
September 9, 2009
A new school year, but school control so far is largely unchanged
After all that hand-wringing about "checks and balances" and "mayoral accountability," the school year has arrived, and the way the system is run is completely unchanged. A revised law has been on the books for nearly a month, but the new system is still a mystery. Though the law calls for a new parent center, greater oversight of the Department of Education's contracts, and an independent auditor of the department's education data, all of these alterations are in their infancy, and none have been put in place. Won as part of a deal between a group of runaway senators and Mayor Bloomberg, the parent center is perhaps the most concrete change with the least clear future. It will be housed at CUNY and will cost the city and state $1.6 million, but education officials have yet to define its role or how it will differ from the DOE's current parent outreach, the Office for Family Engagement and Advocacy. Asked how far along the center's development is, a DOE spokesperson had no comment.
April 23, 2009
Panel: NYC public school grads not starting college prepared
More city public school graduates are enrolling at City University of New York Colleges, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and CUNY President Matt Goldstein boasted at a press conference last month. But whether the students are prepared for the college experience, both in and outside the classroom, is much less clear. Only 7.5% of students take all of the high school courses that CUNY recommends, and more than 70% of the first-year students in CUNY's junior colleges must take remedial courses to catch up on basic skills, according to John Garvey, who was until recently the dean in charge of CUNY's College Now program, which allows high school students to take college-level courses. Garvey presented the information at an event Tuesday held by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, which is developing a set of recommendations for how to boost student achievement. One major problem is that the most advanced high school courses, called Regents courses to match the exit exams students must pass, do not approximate the style or difficulty of college classes, Garvey said. CUNY freshmen are exempted from remedial courses if they score a 75 on the math and English Regents exams. But the tests focus on material that should be learned in middle school and the first years of high school, Garvey said. "They don't align with the real needs of college courses," he said.
April 8, 2009
DOE releases SSO performance data; let the crunching begin
One thing that went under the radar during the nonstop news cycle of the last few weeks is a sizable data dump from the Department of Education, which for the first time released statistical reports about the 11 organizations that support the city's schools. The reports went online last week to inaugurate the period when schools can choose which organization they want to affiliate with. The organizations, called School Support Organizations, or SSOs, have provided support services to individual schools for the last two years in place of the traditional school-district bureaucracy. This is the first time that the DOE has allowed schools to change the affiliation they originally selected back in 2007. The new reports include a chart (above) comparing the SSOs according to their schools' progress report scores, quality review evaluations, and principal satisfaction survey results. The result is the public evaluation that Eric Nadelstern, the DOE's chief schools officer who formerly ran the Empowerment organization, said back in January was being cooked up the department's accountability office. The comparison, which takes into account school data from the 2007-2008 school year, shows that the SSO run by the City University of New York did the best, followed closely by the Empowerment organization. The reports are available on the DOE's Web site only in PDF format, and there is a different one for each organization. A DOE spokeswoman told me that the department had not made available a database compiling the data, so I went ahead and made one, available here or after the jump. I also went one step further and added some calculations of my own, based on the DOE's data: The percent change in progress report and quality review scores from 2007 to 2008. Among my first impressions: Schools either improved their internal operations significantly between 2007 and 2008, or else they figured out how to look like they had improved, because the percentage of schools receiving top ratings on their Quality Reviews jumped in every organization. If you have more statistics knowhow than I do and some extra time on your hands (like during this school vacation), take a look and note what you see. Leave your observations in the comments.
March 18, 2009
DOE sending student data, more students to CUNY schools
Since August, the Department of Education has been quietly swapping data about its graduates with the City University of New York, under an information-sharing agreement that Mayor Bloomberg boasted today is the first of its kind. Under the terms of the agreement, the mayor explained at a press conference this morning, CUNY sends performance data to high schools about their graduates enrolled in city colleges. In exchange, the DOE shares the students' high school records with CUNY. The purpose of the swap is to gather new information about what it takes to prepare high schoolers for success in college, a looming question in a city where a growing number of public school graduates enrolling in CUNY's two-year schools need remedial instruction. "I don't think anybody before has even thought about crossing that barrier," Bloomberg said, referring to the separation between public schools and college and universities. Bloomberg's remarks came at a press conference about the growing number of public school students who are enrolling at CUNY colleges. At the event, which took a dramatic turn when a Lehman College student who was standing beside the mayor fainted, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the CUNY enrollment surge is evidence that the city's public schools are improving, particularly for minority students.
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