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April 2, 2018
Five first days of school: How Richard Carranza’s start as chancellor compares to his predecessors’
Carranza's first day is shaping up to be very different from those of the most recent chancellors he succeeds. Here's what they did on day one.
November 3, 2015
De Blasio official touts school choice as a solution to segregation, echoing Bloomberg
Critics who consider the idea of a high-performing but highly segregated school system unrealistic have grown increasingly wary of the overlap.
August 14, 2014
A frequent critic of testing, de Blasio takes the good test news in stride
The mayor celebrated students' state test-score gains, but not too much, since he has criticized others for focusing too narrowly on test scores.
February 28, 2014
Where in the world is Dennis Walcott? Oh, just Barbados
Eight weeks after ending his tenure as New York City Schools Chancellor, Walcott has reemerged in Barbados, where he has been named an “honorary distinguished…
December 20, 2013
Bloomberg lauds small schools on his final visit as mayor
Mayor Bloomberg spoke to students at Bard High School Early College Queens on his last school day as mayor. On the last school day of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, an educator gave him an unexpected gift. Bloomberg was speaking to students at Bard High School Early College Queens, a small selective school with a 96-percent graduation rate where students leave with associates’ degrees. He told them that “small, innovative schools like Bard” had helped drive up graduation rates across the city. “You are some of the luckiest kids in the world,” Bloomberg said. As he was leaving, Principal Valeri Thomson shook his hand.
December 19, 2013
On his last day of school, Walcott visits five of them
Chancellor Dennis Walcott has a packed school-visit schedule for his last day of classes as chancellor. But he won’t be leaving his home borough on…
December 19, 2013
As New York gears up for a new chancellor, Walcott looks back
After eight years of Joel Klein and 96 days of Cathie Black, New York City schools got Dennis Walcott as chancellor in April 2011. Previously a deputy mayor whose portfolio included education, Walcott was charged with executing Mayor Bloomberg's education agenda in the waning years of his administration. Under his leadership, the Department of Education closed dozens of schools and tried unsuccessfully to shutter others, launched an initiative to boost the performance of black and Latino male students, and began implementing new academic standards and teacher evaluation rules. But Walcott also gained a reputation for his athletic pursuits and frequent visits to city schools — both of which made him different from his predecessors. We sat down with Walcott earlier this week to get his take on the job he's leaving behind Dec. 31. He told us that while the city is still not a place where he would be comfortable enrolling his grandchildren in any school, he has no regrets about his time in office. GothamSchools: Let’s zoom ahead to 12 years from now. Walcott: Twelve years from now? Now you’ve got my full attention. We have a new history [now] of what was going on 12 years ago. What do you hope that people will be saying about your administration 12 years from now?
December 12, 2013
For Bloomberg's education panel, a quiet ending in the Bronx
The Panel for Educational Policy, which has overseen some of the most raucous debates over New York City schools over the past 12 years, ended its legacy under Mayor Bloomberg quietly and unemotionally Wednesday night. The Panel for Educational Policy met on Wednesday night at the Taft Educational Campus in the Bronx. Just a handful of audience members showed up for the Bronx meeting, where there were no public comments and little debate among members as they passed two revised building-use plans and three co-location proposals — including the once-controversial plan to put a new district high school in the struggling Boys and Girls High School. "You can kind of tell they're just limping over the finish line," said panel member and Manhattan representative Patrick Sullivan, who has served since 2007 and has been one of the panel's few voices of dissent. The PEP, the 13-member group of appointees that approves the city's decisions on changes like school openings, closings, and co-locations, has been the mayor's mechanism for pushing through his education policies.
December 9, 2013
City expanding computer science teacher training program
The city is continuing to expand its efforts to bring coding to the classroom, as Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today that it will be training 120 additional computer science teachers over the next two summers. That's a tiny fraction of the city's 75,000 teachers, but the initiative is a first step toward developing a system to train teachers in schools across the city how to teach computer science classes. Two small high schools now focus on computer science: the Academy for Software Engineering, which opened in 2012 near Union Square, and the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering, which opened this year. But the existence of those schools doesn't change the fact that most middle and high schools don't have teachers prepared to teach computer science for math or science credit. "Our goal is we want every student to have it," said Seth Schoenfeld, senior director for the Department of Education's Office of Innovation. "We want enough teachers that can teach it in a rigorous way so we know students are getting high-level instruction."
December 5, 2013
GED hubs renamed, reflecting new test and upcoming deadline
Student Malik Peterson unveils the new name for the city's GED Plus centers, behind Chancellor Dennis Walcott. As a huge shift approaches for students who are looking to earn GEDs, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced Thursday a few smaller changes to the system designed to help them. GED Plus, the name given to the city's preparation programs for students, was about to become an awkward moniker when the GED stops being administered in New York next year. Though that exam that has long been synonymous with a high school equivalency credential, the state will begin giving a new Common Core-aligned exam with a different name in 2014. So starting January 1, the student centers will be known as Pathways to Graduation, Walcott announced today. Five of those 62 locations will also host staff members from the Office of Adult and Continuing Education, allowing at least some of the students who age out of the Pathways to Graduation centers the chance to stay put as they continue trying to pass the exam. For the thousands of students enrolled right now, the name change also reflects their deadline for passing all of the GED's five component tests before the January switch to a new exam. At that point, students who had already passed portions of the GED exam will have to start from scratch.
December 3, 2013
Over Bloomberg era, big increases in students taking SAT, APs
Bedford Academy High School principal Adofo Muhammed, left, with Bloomberg and Walcott at Tuesday's SAT and AP scores announcement. More than twice as many students took Advanced Placement exams, and more than 15,000 more high school seniors took the SAT this year than took the exams in 2002, Mayor Bloomberg announced today. New College Board data show that the average SAT score of New York City students increased eight points over last year. But Bloomberg took the long view as he presented the data for the final time, emphasizing the growth over his time in office over the year-to-year numbers that typically get the spotlight. The city did post small, across-the-board gains over last year in every SAT subject, with the biggest gains among Hispanic students, who saw a six-point average gain in writing and a five-point average gain in reading. The city's scores are still far below the national average, and big gaps remain among students. While the average total score for white students was a 1541 out of 2400, the average score for Hispanic students was 1235, and the average score for black students was 1225. But the data also show the number of high school seniors taking the SAT has increased 53 percent from 12 years ago, and the number of students taking AP exams increased to more than 35,000, from about 17,000 12 years ago.
November 25, 2013
Students wade into testing debate on a field trip to City Hall
Fourth graders from the Brooklyn Charter School stop by the City Council and catch some of an education committee hearing For one class of fourth graders, a tour of City Hall turned into a chance to add their voices to the fierce public debate over standardized testing today. Teachers from the Brooklyn Charter School scheduled the city government field trip after finding that few of their students knew much about the city elections that took place earlier this fall. But they didn't realize they were going to be walking into a City Council hearing featuring Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who was getting peppered with questions from lawmakers about how testing policies were affecting schools. Any possibility that the students would see some of the heated sparring between education officials and council members, a common sight at previous hearings, seemed dashed by the timing of the visit. The election season is over, and both Walcott and Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson are just a few weeks from leaving office, so there were no theatrics and little new information offered up in the Department of Education's testimony. The hearing framed many of the issues that have been raised more contentiously at forums, state legislative hearings and protests around the state this fall. Some of the issues, like an increased pressure to perform well and the shifting standards that define proficiency, were ones that the visiting students and teachers said they've seen and experienced first-hand. "I've been in testing grades for six years and it's definitely more pressure," said Gina Zaccaria, one of the teachers from the Bedford-Stuyvesant school. "They feel it more."
November 18, 2013
Walcott continues his ribbon-cutting spree
In the last weeks of his chancellorship, Dennis Walcott has been focusing on the concrete things the Bloomberg administration is leaving behind. Today, he’ll cut…
November 13, 2013
New school grades mark possible end of an era in accountability
A school accountability era in New York City is going out not with a bang but with a technical briefing in the basement of the Department of Education's headquarters. That's where Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky will be unveiling this year's progress reports, the letter grades that the Bloomberg administration awarded annually to schools since 2007, to reporters. The setup is similar to what has happened in the recent past but a far cry from the early years of the progress reports, when Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein used to tout the scores — and their improvement from the previous year — with great fanfare. The letter grades are not the biggest school story today for Bloomberg and his current chancellor, Dennis Walcott. They're appearing together early this afternoon at a high school in Hell's Kitchen to announce a donation from AT&T to fund a new software engineering curriculum. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has said he wants to overhaul how schools are assessed, so today's grades could well be the last that schools receive, at least under the current system. What they show will become a lasting data point in Bloomberg's education legacy, along with the city's higher graduation rate and this year's dramatic test score decline because of the state's new standards.
November 8, 2013
No closures this year, but city to censure some schools anyway
Chancellor Walcott greets students in the hallway at the Brooklyn School of Inquiry. With a new mayor who opposes school closures headed to City Hall within weeks, the Department of Education won't move to shutter any low-performing schools this year for the first time in more than a decade. "Closure or phase-out is not part of our agenda," Chancellor Dennis Walcott said on a school visit in Brooklyn today, adding that his successor could carry the torch once he and Mayor Bloomberg leave office at the end of the year: "We'll see what the new chancellor will do." Bloomberg has closed 164 schools since he took over the school system in 2002. The schools have been replaced with more than 650 new schools staffed with different principals and teachers, an aggressive — and controversial — intervention that has been a signature policy in Bloomberg's brand of education reform. This year's closure reprieve doesn't mean that the city is giving a free pass to schools that meet its closure criteria. Walcott said department officials still plan to meet with schools that earned low letter grades on their annual progress reports, which are set to be released next week for a sixth straight year. "You'll see a very rigorous approach ... to address shortcomings at those schools," Walcott added.
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