The Brooklyn Youth Advisory Council, with leaders from the Coro New York Leadership Center, recommended co-location policies to Department of Education officials on Monday.
Sharing space doesn't have to hurt schools, high school students told Department of Education officials Monday night. Done right, students said, co-location can give schools strength in numbers.
In a hallmark policy, the Bloomberg administration has closed many large high schools and opened multiple smaller schools in the same buildings. Now, hundreds of schools coexist in shared spaces, an arrangement that can be uneasy at times.
After carrying out surveys and focus groups with nearly 400 students on four co-located campuses in Brooklyn, members of the youth council this week made recommendations for how to reduce tension and make the most of the space-sharing to top department officials, including Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg.
At the top of their list: youth councils on all co-located campuses to plan joint academic and extracurricular activities, and youth courts to deal with infractions of co-location rules.
Inspired by a 2010 study that found that students’ feedback about their teachers helped predict how well the teachers' students performed on state tests, New York City asked some schools last year to test out a student survey that could become part of new teacher evaluations.
But if the city and its teachers union agree on a new evaluation system this year, student surveys are unlikely to play a role, according to people on both sides of the negotiating table.
The Gates Foundation-funded Measures of Effective Teaching study found that student feedback and teacher observations combined were more closely correlated with teacher effectiveness than observations alone, or any number of other attributes of teachers.
The city participated in that study and adapted the survey used in it, called Tripod, for use last year in 10 of the 108 schools in the Teacher Effectiveness Pilot, meant to test possible components of overhauled teacher evaluations.
Under the state’s new evaluation law, 60 percent of teachers’ ratings must come from subjective measures such as principal observations and peer reviews. The State Education Department has said student surveys can play a role, too, if districts and their unions agree.
The head of the state’s teachers union says student feedback could be a useful element of evaluations. But city union officials say they are staunchly opposed to incorporating student feedback in teacher evaluations.
Nikhil Goyal (second to left) and Matthew Resnick (right) speak at a panel at #140ed on Wednesday, with a live tweet from Resnick as the backdrop.
In suits and ties, they're spending the summer in making speeches before thousands of people, bolstering their online presence, and pushing for changes to state governance.
But some of them aren't even old enough to vote.
A handful of New York State high school students have banded together to create Student Voice, an organization devoted to empowering students. Their first project is to get representation on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's education reform commission, where they say students are imperative to conversations about teacher evaluations and technology policy.
Two of the three students behind Student Voice come from Long Island high schools. The third, Matthew Resnick, is a senior at Manhattan's Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
"It’s like a detective conduncting a criminal investigation without interviewing the victims," said Zak Malamed, a recent high school graduate from Great Neck, about the commission. "We are the victims of the system's flaws, so we should at least have a voice."
The organization started this spring when Malamed realized that through the internet, he could connect to hundreds of other peers interested in education policy. That's how he met Resnick and Nikhil Goyal, a senior at Syosset High School, who helped him launch the group.
"The trigger was realizing that I’m not the only one, I’m not an anomaly in wanting to change the education system as it is," Malamed said.
The principal of the High School for Environmental Studies prepares to accept a check for her school's science program
On Wednesday, we highlighted seven math and science teachers who received awards for their teaching. They were formally honored on Wednesday night, and yesterday the Fund for the City of New York launched a tour of their schools. We joined the tour's first day to ask students what qualities make a math or science teacher great.
At Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, juniors and seniors gathered in the library were told that math teacher Kate Belin had won $5,000. Several students whooped with glee and one shouted, "You could go to Africa with that!" Principal Nancy Mann rejected the students' request to use the school's $2,500 reward to build a second gym.
Next, at a highly selective school that the Department of Education does not manage, Hunter College High School, members of the math team praised Eliza Kuberska, their Math Team Advisor. Noting that Kuberska exhorts them to "do it for the love of math" and challenges them to tackle problems more complex than most high schoolers typically face, the students brought their teacher to tears.
At the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan, it was science teacher Marissa Bellino who made her students cry. Senior Alejandro Vinueza, who has Bellino as his teacher for the third time and traveled with her to Japan to learn about lowering carbon emissions, read a prepared speech but paused shortly after beginning to rub his reddening eyes. “Damn, I’m getting emotional now,” he said. Later, he told me how Bellino inspired him to pursue a science major in college and how she has opened his eyes to environmental awareness. “You know when someone says that they had an experience that changed their life forever? I didn’t believe that could happen until I went to Japan,” Vinueza said.
I asked students from the three high schools what makes for a great math or science teacher. Here's what they said:
Fannie Lou Hamer receives a framed portrait of math teacher Kate Belin
Good teachers connect:
“A good teacher understands that every student has their own problems and it takes that one on one interaction, that personal connection, for the students to learn in his or her own way.”
Tulio Santos, senior, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School