progress reports

New York

For first time, college readiness factors into high school grades

New York

As in L.A., city advocates call for arts to be seen more as "core"

City Councilman Robert Jackson protested against cuts to arts education on the steps of City Hall in June 2011. A move made in Los Angeles last week to elevate arts classes to a special status is unlikely to be repeated in New York City soon, despite exhortations from local arts advocates. L.A. school board members unanimously approved a resolution to make arts a "core subject," or one considered essential to students' education. The proposal was aimed at insulating arts from further budget cuts and laying groundwork for a restoration of arts funding within five years. "The use of the term 'core' says that every child will be entitled to it, and when you use the word 'core,' there’s a financial expectation attached to it," the district's top — and only — arts official told Southern California Public Radio. "So when cuts are made, now that the arts are core, cuts will need to be spread across all the disciplines. Now the arts can be seen as important as social studies, science, math and language arts." New York City technically includes arts courses in what it considers core subjects, in keeping with federal and state language, according to Department of Education officials. But when the department awards schools for their students' success in passing academic courses, it leaves the arts out. On the city's annual city progress reports, high schools receive points based on how many classes students passed in the last year. Extra weight is given to English, math, science, and social studies courses, the ones the city considers to be at the core of the academic program. This year, for the first time, middle schools also received credit for the proportion of students who passed classes in those subjects. The change to the middle school progress report prompted seven leading arts advocates to petition city officials in late August to add arts to the Department of Education's list of core subjects. The advocates, who included the director of the Center for Arts Education and the chair of the New York City Arts Coalition, argued in a letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott that the department's metrics signal to principals that it's okay to give the arts short shrift.
New York

More schools met threshold for closure on new progress reports

New York

IBO: City's school progress reports are flawed but an advance

The system the city uses to award letter grades to schools is complicated and in some ways flawed — but it's the best system we have. That's the conclusion of a report by the Independent Budget Office, the city's budget watchdog that since 2009 has been charged with scrutinizing Department of Education data. The office examined the city's progress reports, released annually since 2007, to see whether their underlying metrics produce meaningful results. The progress reports were meant to radically reorient the way that New Yorkers thought about school performance. Instead of assessing schools simply by the proportion of students passing state tests, the progress reports focus on students' improvement from year to year. In a precursor to the "value-added" measurements now being used to assess teachers, the reports use a complex and evolving algorithm that controls for student demographics to calculate just how much students have progressed. The city then assigns each school a letter grade based on its score. The letter grades inform both the city's decisions about which principals should receive bonuses and which schools should be considered for closure and families' choices are where to enroll. The IBO concludes that the progress reports offer a more sophisticated analysis of school performance than ever before — but that there is room for improvement. "The methodology used by the education department is a significant improvement over simply basing measures on comparisons of standardized test scores," the report concludes. "Still, the School Progress Reports have to be interpreted with caution."
New York

Hoping to please parents, school introduces real-time polling

New York

As some schools protest turnaround plans, others wait and see

New York

Gompers teachers: We will stay dedicated despite phaseout

New York

Among low-scoring schools, familiar names and dashed hopes

Yesterday's high school progress reports release put 60 schools on existential notice. Fourteen high schools got failing grades, 28 received D's, and another 14 have scored at a C or lower since at least 2009 — making them eligible for closure under Department of Education policy. In the coming weeks, the city will winnow the list of schools to those it considers beyond repair. After officials release a shortlist of schools under consideration for closure, they will hold "early engagement" meetings to find out more about what has gone wrong. City officials said they would look at the schools' Quality Reviews, state evaluations, and past improvement efforts before recommending some for closure. Last month, they said they were considering closure for just 20 of the 128 elementary and middle schools that received low progress report grades. The at-risk high schools are spread over every borough except for Staten Island and include many of the comprehensive high schools that are still open in the Bronx, including DeWitt Clinton High School and Lehman High School, which until recently were considered good options for many students. They also include two of the five small schools on the Erasmus Campus in Brooklyn and two of the three  small schools that have long occupied the John Jay High School building in Park Slope. (A fourth school, which is selective, opened at John Jay this year.) They include several of the schools that received "executive principals" who got hefty bonuses to turn conditions around.