Posts from July 2012
July 31, 2012
- In the current reality, strikes by teachers unions won’t shut down all of a city’s public schools. (WBEZ)
- A new TFA teacher adjusts to not being the only one who cares. (TeachForUs via Gary Rubinstein)
- Chancellor Walcott toured students around a trash container turned school recycling center. (GS Twitter)
- A math teacher says English classes conducted on why-learn-algebra lines would be dull. (Jose Vilson)
- A recent graduate describes a life-changing summer program, and how she paid for it. (GS Community)
- I was on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning to talk about changes in teacher certification. (WNYC)
- Learning is made fun in the city’s new program to stem learning loss, Summer Quest. (SchoolBook)
- Both presidential candidates accept the theory of evolution, but a potential VP pick does not. (Slate)
- A teacher says loss isn’t the biggest problem with “loss aversion” tactics to raising scores. (James Boutin)
July 31, 2012
For principals, August is usually a time for putting the final touches on staffing and curriculum decisions for the year — and for sneaking in a long-awaited vacation.
The principals of 24 schools that the city tried to “turn around” will spend the month putting their schools back together.
The turnaround process would have meant new names, shaken-up staffs, and new programs for the schools. But those changes were undone when an arbitrator ruled earlier this month that staffing plans for the schools violated the city’s contract with the teachers and principals unions.
Now, on the last day of July, the schools’ principals are finding out which teachers intend to return in September, according to a letter they received from the Department of Education this evening. The letter, which the city released to reporters, offered the most detailed guidance the principals have gotten yet about how to proceed after months of uncertainty and disorder.
In the email, the department official in charge of turnaround offers instructions ranging from what to call their schools in formal communications (by their original names) to what to do with all of the files generated by the hiring committees that were reviewing teaching candidates for the overhauled schools (lock them in a filing cabinet). (more…)
July 31, 2012
Not all high school graduates are created equally: Some had to make up ground after falling behind along the path to graduation day. Identifying those future graduates early could be key to getting them to succeed in college later, according to a new report.
The report, authored by researchers with the education nonprofit New Visions for Public Schools, tracked students in 75 New Visions-supported city schools through high school and into college. The report finds that students who graduate with a Regents diploma after years of struggling are much less likely to succeed in college than those students who have a history of good performance.
Schools tend to pay special attention to students with obvious obstacles to overcome, such as a disability or status as an English language learner. But students who have a couple of bad semesters in tenth grade and then earn passing grades in their junior year don’t always register as being “at risk” to their schools, the report concludes.
The report advocates for schools to expand the definition of an “at-risk” student to include any student who has experienced ups and downs—which are marked and reviewed according to a metric system detailed in the study that New Visions schools will continue to use. It also argues that school districts like New York City are pushing schools in this direction by emphasizing schools’ graduation rate as the main benchmark of success.
“We’re trying to take the conversation and say, every kid, whether high or low performing, is vulnerable but in a different way,” said Susan Fairchild, one of the report’s lead authors. “Our accountability structures don’t necessarily support schools. We’re moving in those direction, but our systems are really based on accumulation, not flow, not how kids actually come into the system.” (more…)
July 31, 2012
I was excited when I got the opportunity to spend two weeks at Marist Collegelast summer because I am never away from my home in the Bronx. At first I was nervous but then I thought about it and realized “Hey, I’m really going to be getting college credit for this and it would be (more…)
July 31, 2012
The teachers union’s victory in a legal fight over the city’s “turnaround” plans kept thousands of teachers at 24 struggling schools from losing their positions. But it has also put another group of teachers at risk.
They are the “master” and “turnaround” teachers, a cohort of experienced educators selected to put in extra hours helping their colleagues in exchange for extra pay.
The positions were funded through federal School Improvement Grants, but without turnaround or another overhaul process in place at the schools, those funds will not flow to the city. Last week, just after the city’s final bid to reinstate turnaround failed, the 71 master and turnaround teachers got a letter from the Department of Education telling them to look for other positions.
The demise of the elite positions has given rise to yet another city-union dispute centered around the schools formerly slated for turnaround. (more…)
July 31, 2012
- Gov. Cuomo will veto a bill to weigh family beliefs in students’ special ed placements. (WSJ, Daily News)
- A study says many school districts are letting top teachers get away. (GothamSchools, SchoolBook, Post)
- The study shows that New York City, high- and low-rated teachers leave at the same rate. (Daily News)
- In a rare move, a city charter school offered free public space has opted not to use it. (GothamSchools)
- Tech companies are seeking FDA approval for video games as a treatment for attention issues. (WSJ)
July 30, 2012
- StudentsFirst Florida offered allies gifts for “polite and persuasive pro-reform” comments. (State Impact)
- The group focuses on just half of one teacher’s taxonomy of education policy impacts. (Gary Rubinstein)
- The PR firm SKDKnickerbocker was working against unions while it worked for them. (In These Times)
- Districts across the country are shifting to an autonomy-based “portfolio” model. (EdWeek via Notebook)
- Several city folks are among those weighing in on the value of standardized testing. (Room for Debate)
- Nocera: Turnaround for Children bridges between “reformers” and those who blame poverty. (Times)
- One criticism of TNTP’s newest report takes issue with the terminology of “irreplaceables.” (Shanker)
- A city teacher wonders what might have been if charter schools existed when he was a kid. (Yo Mista)
- A teacher sums up a book documenting the culture that policing instills in schools. (Urban Teacher’s Ed)
- A Bronx high school teacher outlines how he got students to pass the AP Calculus exam. (SchoolBook)
- It’s not clear if a testing resolution the AFT passed changes the union’s formal positions. (Teacher Beat)
- Chicago teachers sought a tougher stance and protested extensively at the convention. (Ed Notes)
- The problem with teaching history is that every year there is more of it. (NPR)
July 30, 2012
Getting rid of weak teachers doesn’t always require massive policy changes. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge, a new study on teacher turnover suggests.
When New York City principals told low-rated teachers that they were deficient, the teachers were three times more likely to leave the school, according to the study, released today by TNTP, a group that advocates for aggressive changes to hiring and firing practices in public schools.
Convincing the best teachers to stay is just as easy as counseling the weak ones out, the study suggests. Top-rated teachers said they were more likely to stay if their principals gave them more constructive feedback and more public recognition for their efforts, but two-thirds of them reported that their principals did not even encourage them to return to their school.
The study is a follow-up to TNTP’s 2009 influential “Widget Effect” report, which urged school districts to revamp teacher evaluations. In the new report, the group focuses on how districts can hold on to teachers determined to be the best. Districts don’t make a special effort to keep those teachers, termed “Irreplaceables” in the report, and when they leave, schools are highly unlikely to hire teachers who are anywhere near as strong, the report concludes.
Some of the report’s findings represent low-cost, easy-to-implement alternatives to some of the other policies TNTP has pushed, including firing teachers who don’t have permanent positions and doing away with seniority-based layoffs. (more…)
July 30, 2012
For most of this spring, Urban Dove Team Charter School’s story followed a familiar trajectory.
When the Department of Education offered the charter school space in a public school building, the community erupted in opposition. Politicians stepped in, principals went to the press, and parents protested — all with the goal of keeping the charter school out. Then the city signed off on the co-location anyway, and tensions started to die down.
That’s when Urban Dove’s story took an unusual turn. Despite getting free public space — a hotly sought-after commodity — Urban Dove signed a lease this month to spend some of its scarce per-pupil funding on private space. Next month, the transfer high school will open on one floor of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.
It was a rare move for a charter school offered a public building. Most charter schools prefer to open in buildings owned by the city to save money and time spent negotiating with landlords, according to James Merriman, director of the New York City Charter School Center. Plus, money for real estate comes from charter schools’ operating budget — meaning the more they spend on space, the less they have for teachers, supplies, and programming.
Urban Dove’s founder and principal each declined to share the terms of the lease. But they said undertaking the significant expense made perfect sense for the school, which will serve students who have already fallen behind before they turn 16. (more…)
July 30, 2012
- A design flaw in Texas’s tests that exist elsewhere renders them useless, psychometricians say. (Times)
- Some of the students whose Regents exams were lost this year won’t graduate. (Daily News, WSJ, NY1)
- New York is among dozens of states that will require documented skills for teaching licenses. (Times)
- The Daily News criticizes the UFT for a contractual rule that will cut city teachers off from federal bonuses.
- StudentsFirstNY’s new education director explains why she supports the policies she supports. (Post)
- A stray bullet killed an honor-roll student in the Bronx in one of several recent shootings. (Post, Times)
- A teacher who was bored joked about selling his schools’ books online for cash, investigators say. (Post)
- Mayor Bloomberg said the city would not abandon the schools that won’t undergo turnaround. (NY1)
- Ex-anchor Campbell Brown: The city’s rules on firing teachers who abuse students must change. (WSJ)
- A retired professor argues that high schools should not require students to pass algebra classes. (Times)
- Thousands of people in Hong Kong protested the arrival of the Chinese national curriculum. (Times)
- Tennessee education officials told Nashville to allow a charter school in a middle-class area. (WSJ)
Last week on GothamSchools:
- A two-year-old high school that suffered massive scheduling problems is getting a new principal. (Friday)
- The city was aiming to replace at least half of teachers at turnaround schools, despite its claims. (Friday)
- City and state officials have very different theories of the challenge needy students present. (Thursday)
- The city’s meeting of a state education reform commission was short and packed with input. (Thursday)
- Among those who testifed was a former principal who is now leading an advocacy group. (Thursday)
- The Children’s Aid Society Charter School is weighing instruction as it constructs its space. (Wednesday)
- Students created their own guide to the city’s complex high school admissions process. (Wednesday)
- A judge ruled that the city’s bid to restart “turnaround” at 24 schools did not pass muster. (Tuesday)
- But first, a principal from a non-turnaround school tried to rally support for the overhauls. (Tuesday)
- Few regular donors who are interested in education donated to mayoral candidates lately. (Tuesday)
- After 18 months at NewsCorp, ex-chancellor Joel Klein announced an ed tech business. (Monday)
- Teachers, parents, and students think their schools are doing better than their test scores say. (Monday)