Posts from October 22nd, 2013
October 22, 2013
- Geographic differences in who gets the “English language learner” label have big impacts. (Stateline)
- Paul Hill wrote a lengthy defense of Bloomberg’s education policies, with recommendations. (Atlantic)
- A new nonprofit is focusing on how to get more students with disabilities into charter schools. (EdWeek)
- A Massachusetts senator is investigating how student data is shared with tech companies. (Times Bits)
- Why does Indiana matter on education policy? The editor of Chalkbeat Indiana has the answers.
- And another notice of the launch of Chalkbeat, our national network of education news sites. (Russo)
- A former editor rebuts the Star-Ledger’s Christie endorsement on educational grounds. (Bob Braun)
- Eduwonk: John King’s “out of bounds” Common Core meeting actually seems to be par for the course.
- The UFT’s executive board tabled a resolution to change a piece of teacher evaluation law. (JD2718)
October 22, 2013
Commissioner John King has a busy day scheduled in New York City tomorrow.
First, King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch are meeting up in Harlem where they’ll visit schools in the district of Assemblyman Keith Wright, a senior legislative member with influential positions in the state’s Democratic Party. Wright will take them to P.S. 180 and Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts, an embattled middle and high school that nearly closed last year and posted some of the lowest test scores in the state.
In the afternoon, King will travel to midtown Manhattan for what could be a more tense encounter: a panel conversation with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, one of his fiercest critics. The panel is hosted by Teaching Matters at The Harvard Club starting at 12 p.m.
For months, Weingarten and local union leaders called on King to hold off on tying high stakes to teacher evaluations until after schools fully adopted new Common Core learning standards, which students were tested on in April. Test scores plummeted and critics reprised calls for a moratorium in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the state teachers union said today that the evaluation data did not sway their concerns.
“The state’s rushed implementation of Common Core and last April’s testing debacle call into question the use of these scores in any high-stakes decisions affecting individual teachers or students,” said New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi.
Such a change would require a change to state law, which would require support from legislators like Wright. In an interview today, Wright said he recognized that the issue was a “hot topic” but said such a change wasn’t a priority among his parent constituents. (more…)
October 22, 2013
Ananda Kimm-Drapeau, 13, summed up her high school aspirations by quoting a friend: ”One of my friends said, ‘I know you and I know if you don’t get into Stuyvesant you’ll be crying until the first day of school.’”
Kimm-Drapeau said all her relatives went to either Stuyvesant High School or the Bronx High School of Science, two of New York’s most competitive specialized schools. The two schools, known for their rigorous academic programs, admit applicants based exclusively on their test scores. Kimm-Drapeau is skeptical of friends who say that would prefer Bronx Science.
“People think they won’t get into Stuyvesant,” she said. “Or they think the kids at Stuyvesant look miserable and that Bronx Science is easier,” she said.
Kimm-Drapeau, who attends M.S. 54, Booker T. Washington Middle School on West 107th Street, which has a gifted program, was one of thousands of students attending high school fairs across the city,
At the fair, Kimm-Drapeau said that other than Stuyvesant, she had only three or four schools that she could list as her preferences. Her mother said they needed to gather more information on more schools to round out the list — just in case her daughter doesn’t get into Stuyvesant, the city’s most selective school. “Anything could happen and we don’t want her to go to a school she absolutely hates,” Ellen Kimm said.
Though her heart is set on Stuyvesant, she and her mother came to the Manhattan fair to take a closer look at other selective schools, such as Bard High School Early College and LaGuardia High School for Music and Art & the Performing Arts, which requires an audition for admission.
Kimm said her daughter began to consider LaGuardia, the high school known as the setting for the movie “Fame,” after being cast recently in her middle school’s production of “Guys and Dolls.”
“It’s been Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant,” said Kimm. “Then last week she asked me, ’Is it okay if I become an actor?’”
“No, I just wanted to audition for something,” Kimm-Drapeau interjected. At the fair she asked two seniors at LaGuardia how much time they spend in drama classes, and they told her it was three or four periods a day.
“I think three or four hours a day might be a little much for me,” Kimm-Drapeau said. “I want to be able to do it often but not too often.”
She said her real interest is in medicine. As a fifth- and sixth-grader she used to read health articles on CNN.com.
“I used to be obsessed with Sanjay Gupta,” she said. “He talks to people on TV but he’s also a brain surgeon. That’s literally what I want to do. Be a doctor first and then an entertainer who talks to people.”
Kimm said her daughter’s interest might also be personal: Her father passed away from cancer when she was little and her brother has autism.
Kimm-Drapeau and her mother had also looked at several smaller schools, such as the High School for American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx, like Stuyvesant a specialized school. The eighth-grader said she likes small schools, such as her own, where she knows everyone. ”I don’t want to feel like I’m surrounded by people I don’t know,” she said.
Kimm said it was reassuring to hear from other parents that going to a small high school — somewhere other than Stuyvesant, which has more than 3,000 students – could help Kimm-Drapeau’s chances later when she applies to college. ”Colleges can only take so many kids from one school. Harvard can’t only accept Stuyvesant students,” Kimm-Drapeau reasoned.
But her mom said the process has often felt hectic. During tours at the High School of American Studies, she said thousands of students and parents were all lined up, rushing to see the school. “The competition is fierce,” Kimm noted.
Kimm-Drapeau, meanwhile, said she is totally focused on getting into high school right now. “I’m not going to miss a tour because I want to hang out with friends,” she said.
Much of her energy these days, she said, is focused on improving her test scores so she can get into Stuyvesant. She has been studying after school for the Specialized High School Admissions Test with a tutoring company called iBidPrep.
“It’s my dream school,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go there.”
October 22, 2013
Jonathan Aguilar, 13, stood in the middle of the jam-packed Francis Lewis High School gym, trying to find a calm spot amid the bustle of parents and students at the Queens high school fair.
At first, Jonathan’s plan was to collect material being handed out from the schools with strong technology programs. But with the sheer number of schools at the fair and the crush of people, it was difficult to figure out each school’s specialty. He began stopping at nearly every booth and collecting the handouts.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve been walking through the school booths just taking papers from all of them.”
Jonathan’s mother, Sandra Aguilar, remained calm. This was not the first high school fair for the Aguilars, who live in the Glendale section of Queens.
“We went through this process with my older son, so I’m a veteran at this now,” she said.
Sandra Aguilar told Jonathan he didn’t have to find the right high school that day. She told him to go ahead and gather whatever documents the schools — and and all of them — were handing out. They’d go home and sort through those handouts to decide which individual high schools to visit later.
“We just accept as many papers as we can and then decide which school open houses we want to go to after we leave today,” she said.
Jonathan said did not want to go to high school outside of his home borough of Queens. For three years, he’s watched his older brother get up early to take the subway into Manhattan and the High School of Art and Technology. Jonathan reasoned that if he went to school in Queens, closer to home, he could sleep a little later in the morning.
Bobbing his head along with the music playing through his bright green headphones, Jonathan said that he was interested in schools that offer technology courses because he loves video games.
As if helping Jonathan look at high schools wasn’t enough, Sandra Aguilar said she is also helping her older son consider colleges. “I’m very stressed,” she said.
But she never considered skipping the high school fair. Going to the fair helped Jonathan’s older brother find a high school where he has thrived, she said.
“We hope that Jonathan has a similar experience,” Sandra said. “So we’re going to just take it little by little until we find the right school for him.”
Sandra said that there are more schools represented at the fair this year than when she attended with Jonathan’s brother, and the application process in general is more complicated.
Out of earshot from his mother, taking pamphlets from school representatives, Jonathan said that the thing he really wanted in a school was a good academic program.
“As long as the academics are top notch, you can’t go wrong,” he said.
Rebecca Harris is a student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
October 22, 2013
Roselyn Jimenez, 12, was on the verge of tears when she entered the cafeteria packed with students and school booths for the Manhattan high school fair. “I don’t want to be here,” she said.
Jimenez said she was overwhelmed partly at the chaos in the room but also, in a larger sense, at the thought of growing up. “I’m not ready for high school,” she said. “It’s scary.”
Jimenez said that most of her friends at M.S. 319 want to go to George Washington High School, but she doesn’t. “They think it’s going to be like middle school,” she said. But she thinks George Washington would be much different from middle school. “It has a lot of gangs,” she said.
Before the fair, Jimenez said, she didn’t know what high school she wanted to go to, or even what questions to ask to find out. Her mother, Ingrid Mota, pulled her from Inwood Academy Charter School this year and moved her to M.S. 319 because she didn’t think her daughter was learning enough. “She was having problems with other girls, like gossip, he-said, she-said,” said Mota.
Because of the change in middle schools, Jimenez said, she still hadn’t met her counselor at M.S. 319, and hadn’t received any guidance at school for how to apply to high schools.
Jimenez said her favorite school activity is drawing, but she had not kept any of her drawings to put into a portfolio required for the schools specializing in art.
Jimenez saw the “uniform school” sign taped above the New York Lab’s School’s booth and stepped backward. She shook her head and said, “No.” But her mom approached the booth anyway, even as her daughter — with four earrings in one ear, color added to her hair, stretch pants and a black sports jacket — refused to come any closer.
At the booth for the Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology, student Alec Cruz, a junior, immediately read Jimenez’s body language and said, “You’re not that into this, are you?” Cruz ended up chatting with Jimenez, offering stories about how the school offers bonfires, games, and other programs to help ninth graders acclimate.
“It sounds cool. They take the new kids and help them bond with each other,” said Jimenez.
Socializing is something Jimenez prides herself on. She sent text messages frequently during the fair and said she has more than 6,000 friends and followers on Facebook. “They call me Facebook famous,” Jimenez said.
A social connection finally drew Jimenez’s interest in a school. When she saw the booth for the Global Language Collaborative, a high school on the Upper West Side, she remembered that a friend had attended the school and gone on a trip with teachers and students to China.
“I love traveling. It’s exciting because you’re in a new place,” said Jimenez. She has already visited the Dominican Republic with her family and toured the American South with her sister and cousin, where she got to see Dolly Parton. Based on that, she said she liked Global Language Collaborative. Maybe, she said, she’d go on some cool trips in high school.
Mota looked up, as if thanking the heavens, and said, “At least she likes one school.”
Oliver Morrison is a student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
October 22, 2013
Teachers who were worried that the state’s new evaluation rules could put them at risk of being fired can exhale now. Almost no one was rated ineffective in the first round of ratings under the new rules, state education officials announced today.
Just 1 percent of teachers across the state — excluding New York City — were rated ineffective last year, according to the data, Another 4 percent were rated “developing,” which signals that teachers should receive additional support.
Fully half of teachers earned the state’s highest rating, “highly effective,” and another 42 percent were deemed “effective.”
The new evaluation system, unveiled in conjunction with new standards for students, was meant to distinguish teacher quality and resolve the disconnect between teachers’ almost uniformly high ratings and the state’s low college readiness rate.
That did not happen this year. While 92 percent of teachers were highly effective or effective, just 31 percent of students in the state were deemed to be on track for college and careers. (more…)
October 22, 2013
*This post has been updated to ensure contributors follow Department of Education policies.*
Calling all members of New York City public school communities: We want your help in creating a photo slideshow that displays the rich diversity of the New York City school system.
October 22, 2013
- President Obama will visit Brooklyn’s oft-praised P-TECH on Friday. (Daily News, GS in Brief, Capital NY)
- Eighty percent of parents opted out of benchmark testing at a Washington Heights school. (Daily News)
- The UFT filed 17 formal grievances against the city’s new teacher evaluation system. (GothamSchools)
- The city opened a health clinic at Morris High School, one of several planned. (Daily News, SchoolBook)
- A poll found that New Yorkers are split on whether charter schools should pay rent. (GothamSchools)
- State schools officials were defensive and conciliatory on the role of testing. (GothamSchools, Newsday)
- Studies concluding that children can fall behind in language early have fueled pre-K support. (Times)
- A 12-year-old student killed a teacher, then himself, at a Nevada middle school. (Times, WSJ)
- Bill Keller: Education schools have a “lucrative monopoly,” and there are people trying to end it. (Times)