Posts from March 20th, 2012
March 20, 2012
- The UFT is “reevaluating all of [its] relationships” with lawmakers after pension changes. (Daily Politics)
- A physical education teacher at a Brooklyn high school was arrested on sex abuse charges. (DNA Info)
- The long and tortuous story of an unlikely football powerhouse, a small D.C. school. (Grantland)
- Students at Los Angeles’s Locke High School offer a high-production rap video about testing. (YouTube)
- A crackdown on bake sales hasn’t curbed sky-high sugar intake at one mother’s school. (Insideschools)
- Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is blaming school woes on Arne Duncan’s tenure. (Politico via Russo)
- A principal advises against “winner’s peace” sanctions in student-on-student conflict. (Practical Theory)
- Students at three shared campuses in Brooklyn authored a report on easing co-locations. (SchoolBook)
- States have varied widely in their approach to distributing School Improvement Grants. (Politics K-12)
- School officials across the country are optimistic about SIG grants two years into them. (Politics K-12)
- Some charter schools’ recruitment conjures a suggestion that the market is saturated. (NYC P.S. Parents)
March 20, 2012
The state’s labor relations board has heeded a teachers union request to appoint a mediator to broker a compromise on teacher evaluations at 33 struggling schools.
City officials say will contest the decision, which could undermine the Department of Education’s chief justification for pursuing a reform strategy at the schools that would require many teachers to be displaced.
The ruling by the Public Employees Relations Board is a response to a request for mediation filed by the United Federation of Teachers in January. That request came a day after Mayor Bloomberg said that he would circumvent a collective bargaining requirement at the schools, which had been receiving federal funds to help them improve.
Because the city and union had not been able to agree on new teacher evaluations at the schools by a Dec. 31 deadline, Bloomberg announced that the city would switch the schools from the “transformation” and “restart” reform processes, which require new evaluations, to “turnaround,” which does not. Chancellor Dennis Walcott argued at the time that the switch made PERB’s intervention moot because the board has authority only in collective bargaining matters, and turnaround does not require collective bargaining.
But the city has not formally asked the state for permission to assign the schools to turnaround or withdrawn its application, submitted last summer, for funding for transformation and restart. PERB’s director of conciliation, Richard Curreri, said those facts led him to conclude that the city is still bound by its 2011 agreement to negotiate new teacher evaluations at the 33 schools. (more…)
March 20, 2012
Education research is supposed to inform education policy, but it’s not always the case.
Sometimes the policy agenda isn’t supported by research. But sometimes researchers haven’t asserted themselves. Education research can be difficult to find — hidden away in academic journals or unpublished dissertations. Even when it’s available, it is often presented in technical language that is perfect for academia but ill-equipped to inform public dialogue.
A new feature on GothamSchools, which we’re calling “Useable Knowledge,” aims to change that situation. In the series, researchers will present not only their research and findings but also policy implications that could inform education policy locally and elsewhere. They’ll also seed future research by outlining the questions that their studies raised. And they will solicit and answer questions from readers about just what is known and what isn’t about each research topic.
The first contributors to Useable Knowledge are Janice Bloom and Lori Chajet, two former city high school teachers who as CUNY Graduate Center students set out to investigate the impact of social class (Bloom) and small school environments (Chajet) on students’ college decisions and experiences. (more…)
March 20, 2012
The Useable Knowledge series brings education research to GothamSchools readers. In the first installment, Janice Bloom and Lori Chajet present their research into the college application and transition process in New York City Schools. Bloom and Chajet both taught in small city high schools that mostly serve low-income students of color before enrolling in CUNY (more…)
March 20, 2012
Turnover is continuing in the principals’ offices of schools facing “turnaround,” the federally prescribed reform process that the city has proposed for 33 struggling schools.
Enrique Lizardi, the founding principal of the Bronx High School of Business, has resigned, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman. The spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, said Lizardi took another job within the department and would be replaced in the short term by an assistant principal. Teachers at the school were told that a new administrator would arrive next week.
Turnaround requires principals who have been in place for more than a few years to be replaced, and the city has started informing principals at some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the year. But at least some are leaving mid-semester, just as the city is fleshing out details of the turnaround plans, which require half of teachers at the schools to be replaced this summer.
Lizardi is at least the second principal to move on in recent days. Barry Fried, the longtime principal of Brooklyn’s John Dewey High School, was removed abruptly on Friday and replaced by the founding principal of a successful small school who had trained teachers helping to overhaul some of the 33 schools. (more…)
March 20, 2012
State officials have chosen the first member of a million-dollar team that will crack down on cheating.
State Education Commissioner John King today appointed Tina Sciocchetti to be the executive director of the Test Security and Educator Integrity office, a division whose creation King announced last week following a four-month audit of the state’s test security policies and procedures.
The auditor, Hank Greenberg, found an array of deficiencies in the department’s capacity to receive and pursue test fraud allegations and issued a series of recommendations for reforms. On Monday, Greenberg presented those recommendations to the Board of Regents and today the Regents voted to approve them, formally creating the test security office.
Sciocchetti, a lawyer, will have her work cut out for her. She will confront a department that lacks an infrastructure to handle reports from local districts or pursue its own investigations. According to Greenberg’s presentation to the Regents, nearly half of the allegations received by SED between 2006 and 2011 remain unresolved. A lack of clarity about how to handle the 276 verified allegations from the same period meant that state officials pursued revoking a teacher’s certification in just four cases.
Sciocchetti’s new office will be responsible for resolving the open cases, setting consequences for misconduct, and establishing new guidelines for pursuing its own cases using data methods that look for suspicious test score patterns. (more…)
March 20, 2012
The architect of many of the metrics the city uses to assess teachers and measure student growth spent Monday evening defending his work against a steady stream of criticism from parents and educators.
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky sat on a three-person panel titled “High-Stakes Testing 101″ hosted at The Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies and The Brooklyn New School. The panel included two principals, Long Island’s Sean Feeney and Elijah Hawkes formerly of the James Baldwin School in Manhattan, who have publicly criticized the city’s and state’s use of testing data to measure student growth and evaluate teacher effectiveness. Hawkes was one of about 170 city principals to sign on to a petition Feeney authored against the state’s use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.
That system, in which student growth on standardized test scores count for at least 20 percent of teacher ratings, was officially signed into law last week in Albany.
Polakow-Suransky said the parents and principals were right to have qualms about the new system. He said the tests currently in use are imperfect and acknowledged, as the principals’ protest points out, the evaluation system allows for scenarios in which a teacher can have the full confidence of her principal yet still be rated ineffective if her students show zero growth.
“I agree with you that principals should not ever be in this situation where ultimately their judgment gets trumped by a mechanistic formula,” Polakow-Suransky said after Feeney raised the issue. “I think that’s an important thing that we need to look at as we work to implement this.”
But for the most part, the department’s second in command defended the city’s accountability system against concerns that test scores are being used inappropriately and that longer tests are negatively affecting schools’ curriculum and culture. (more…)
March 20, 2012
As three of the region’s education policy heavyweights said last week that they were rolling out new curriculum standards with “incredible urgency,” educators asked them to slow things down.
The conversation took place Friday at WNET’s annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning conference, where State Education Commissioner John King, New Jersey schools chief Christopher Cerf, and city Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky spoke on a panel discussion about new Common Core curriculum standards. GothamSchools editor Elizabeth Green moderated the panel.
Both New York and New Jersey are in the process of rolling out the new standards, which emphasize analytical skills, non-fiction literature, and mathematical word-problems. Every city school devoted a training day before the school year started to the standards, and all teachers are supposed to teach one unit this spring aligned to them.
But educators who attended the panel — some of whom cut out of school early to be there — said the Core’s introduction this year had become a point of anxiety as teachers are juggling multiple sets of expectations. They said the new standards were increasing pressure on them to revise their teaching methods at a time when they are already gearing up for performance evaluations tied to their students’ test scores for the first time.
Noah Heller, a high school math teacher, said he struggled to decide how to adjust to the new standards when the state is years from tying high school Regents exam scores to the Common Core. (more…)
March 20, 2012
- The Common Core test consortium that New York is part of could require testing nine times a year. (Post)
- The number of DOE workers arrested in 2012 so far is more than the number in 2011. (Daily News)
- P.S. 59 will soon no longer be the only East Side school without a kindergarten wait list. (DNA Info)
- Some high schools seem to be responding to new policies with credit recovery sprees. (GothamSchools)
- The UFT’s chief said loan aid should target retention. (GothamSchools, SchoolBook, Daily News)
- Newark superintendent Cami Anderson announced final pieces of her reform plans. (AP, Star-Ledger)
- The L.A. Times praises Los Angeles’s latest attempt at devising a uniform homework policy.