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Student & School Performance
August 7, 2013
Weingarten warns other states about N.Y. test scores
Weingarten used New York State’s new test scores, the first to reflect student performance on exams tied to the Common Core learning standards, as a…
July 19, 2013
Video: One family’s place in the push against “high-stakes testing”
When state test scores come out in the next couple of weeks, one student who won’t count in the city’s averages is Matthew Sprowal. Encouraged by his mother Karen Sprowal, Matthew did not take the state tests, the first to be tied to new learning standards known as the Common Core, out of protest. Nathan Place, a student at CUNY’s journalism school, filed this video report about the family and the movement against “high-stakes testing.” Writes Place: Matthew, 10, was the one student at his school who “opted out” of the test. His mother, Karen Sprowal, told the school’s principal that he would be refusing the test as an act of protest, and while the rest of Matthew’s fourth-grade class took the tests, he sat in another classroom and read quietly.
June 18, 2013
State ed department highlights Common Core changes in new video
The State Education Department is hoping to end the year on a positive note with a new video that extols the Common Core standards. In…
June 17, 2013
Better news for city on college readiness, but wide gap remains
Chart Like the other large school districts in the state, New York City saw its graduation rate decline last year. But it bucked the trend when it came to graduates' preparedness for college, posting an increase where the other districts did not.
April 24, 2013
First day of state Common Core math tests a relief, teachers say
All's quiet on the Common Core math test front, for now. After last week's state reading tests drew sharp criticism, anxiety ran high as students headed into the first of three days of math testing today. But educators are saying the first day was uneventful — and possibly even easier than they expected. "There was a little bit of a sigh of relief when they started going through the test," David Baiz, who teaches at Global Technology Preparatory Middle School, said of his eighth-grade students. "They felt like they were capable of doing it." Jose Vilson, who teaches at I.S. 52 in Washington Heights, tweeted just after the exam, "My kids found the test pretty easy, and this time, I trust it."
April 10, 2013
Our Common Core math discussion, as chronicled on Twitter
"Wish I'd had math teachers like this when I was in high school!" That's what New America NYC tweeted during "Adding It Up," the panel discussion about the Common Core standards in math that GothamSchools hosted Tuesday evening with New America NYC. About 80 people joined us to hear three city math teachers — Joe Negron from KIPP Infinity Middle School, Bushra Makiya from I.S. 303 in the Bronx, and Jose Vilson from I.S. 52 in Washington Heights — talk about the opportunities, challenges, and unanswered questions in their transition to the new Common Core standards. We'll have a complete video of the event and some additional highlights later in the week. For now, we've used Storify to collect the many tweets about the discussion posted before, during, and after the event.
April 1, 2013
An Academic Probation Officer’s Peril And Promise
I remember so vividly the anticipation of getting my grades each term in the mail, tearing off the perforations to reveal whether or not my all-nighters were worth it. Now, even though grades are available in an instant and perforated paper is a thing of the past, I have that same anxiety for my students each time they send me their grades online.
January 28, 2013
One in 1.1 million: After homelessness, an Ivy League admission
Walid Rahman, a senior at Townsend Harris High School, was recently admitted to Columbia University. His family has struggled with poverty, illness, and homelessness. Walid Rahman was homeless from the time he was four until he was 10. He moved from couch to couch as his family struggled to earn a living while caring for Walid’s terminally ill father. But Walid, an 18 year-old senior at Townsend Harris High School in Queens, refused to let any of that stop him. He is determined to find a cure to beat his father’s illness. The first step for him is getting out of poverty and getting into a top college. Even though there are over 70,000 high school seniors across the country this year who are like Walid — low-income and qualified to attend a top college — they make up only 3 percent of the population at elite colleges and universities. The odds were stacked against him. Hard Beginnings Despite the Rahmans’ numerous hardships, the family considers their circumstances a blessing from God. The Rahmans, originally from Bangladesh, feared for their lives during Walid’s childhood. A criminal blackmailed the family, leaving them the choice to give up their business and lose everything or have Walid kidnapped. For Mr. Rahman, the choice was obvious. His family believed they could rebuild their lives in the United States. They entered the visa lottery and were chosen. When the family arrived in America, they had nothing.
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.
December 18, 2012
In Manhattan conference room, students get networking workout
College and career readiness isn't just about what students know — it's about whom they know, too. That's the philosophy behind the Opportunity Network, a 10-year-old nonprofit organization that aims to develop professional skills in students who might be the first in their family to attend college. Last Wednesday, that development came in the form of two-minute conversations with an array of young professionals during an event that the organization bills as "speed networking." (Watch part of the event in the video above.)
November 30, 2012
Evaluating homegrown courses, city deems some 'college-prep'
Students at Central Park East High School, one of several now receiving city credit for college-level courses its teachers developed. At Harry S. Truman High School, juniors in an honors English class arrange their desks in concentric circles to discuss Marxist and feminist theory in the American literary canon. At Central Park East High School, students taking the Mt. Sinai Careers course develop research projects on the health sciences while interning in hospital departments like pediatrics, orthopedics, and Mt. Sinai's morgue. And at East Side Community School, seniors compare ancient Greek tragedies. The courses are as challenging as any Advanced Placement class, their teachers say: To pass, students must demonstrate not only deep knowledge but also the kind of critical thinking required for success in college. But last year, when the Department of Education moved toward giving high schools credit in their annual letter grade for exposing students to college-level work, the courses did not count. This year, they are among 52 courses in city high schools to get the department's "college and career preparatory" stamp of approval, meaning that students who pass them typically stay in college after many ill-prepared students drop out.
November 27, 2012
Video: Teachers show off student work aligned to Common Core
Work of Art: NYC teachers show off student work aligned to new learning standards Instead of drawings, paintings or sculptures, GothamSchools' makeshift art gallery Monday night featured student essays about wolves, personal conflict, and classic fiction dotted the walls. Middle and high school teachers from across the city brought the work to the Upper East Side to put on display during "The Art of Teaching and Learning to the Common Core," an event we held with the support of Teaching Matters and Azure.
November 26, 2012
For first time, college readiness factors into high school grades
When the Department of Education releases a new set of letter grades for high schools today, some schools could see their scores change substantially. That's because the latest progress reports, which the city uses in part to decide which schools to close, are the first to incorporate data about how well schools have prepared graduates for college. The shifting metrics reflect the department's growing recognition that a high school diploma does not guarantee college success. The new data look at the percentage of students who passed college-level exams or courses; met City University of New York proficiency standards; or entered college, the military, or a work training program, and together they make up 10 percent of each school's score. Most of the information appeared on last year's progress reports but did not factor into schools' grades. For the most part, the new data points do not work in schools' favor. For the last two years, the city has boasted a four-year graduation rate over 60 percent. But city and state assessments of students' college-readiness during the same period found that only about a quarter of students were ready for college four years after entering high school. The wide discrepancy means that the new metrics could easily depress some schools' overall scores, particularly because the department reduced the weight on graduation rates and credit accumulation to free up the points.
November 12, 2012
Traversing The State To Support New College Students
As a college counselor with Bottom Line, I visit my college students on campus monthly to meet with them one-on-one. Sometimes we problem-solve (think "I don't have my books!" or "My bill is incorrect!"); sometimes we prepare for the future (think “What classes should I take?” or “Can you help me edit my resume?”); and sometimes I'm just a familiar face from home with a handful of Jolly Ranchers, ready to listen.
October 25, 2012
In 90 minutes, Tisch took on readiness gap, test objectors, TFA
Learning Matters' John Merrow and New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch (Photo: Nancy Adler) The city's very low college and career readiness rate for black and Hispanic students is a statistic usually cited by advocates seeking to discredit the Bloomberg administration's education record. But when asked to measure the true value of a high school diploma in New York City Wednesday night by education reporter John Merrow, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch turned to the familiar statistic to convey her concerns. "That, to me, is tragic," Tisch said, after rattling off the numbers. Merrow pressed her to account for the disparity between the city's graduation rate, which is over 60 percent, and its low college-readiness rates. "Why isn't this fraud?" he asked. "I didn't say it wasn't," Tisch said. The exchange was part of a 90-minute public dialogue in which Tisch also criticized families who opt out of state tests, set firm limits about the city's request to certify teachers, and proclaimed that the city and its teachers union would reach a teacher evaluation deal before Gov. Andrew Cuomo's mid-January deadline.
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