Posts tagged "independent budget office"
May 9, 2013
The Independent Budget Office’s latest suggestion for how to cut costs at the Department of Education is to cut a performance pay program for school administrators that the Bloomberg administration convinced the principals union to accept.
Since 2007, the department has distributed about $6 million a year to principals and assistant principals on the basis of their schools’ progress report scores. Last year, 275 administrators — including some who were under investigation at the time — took home $5.7 million, with individual rewards as high as $25,000, for principals at the top 1 percent of schools. Department officials said today that this year’s bonuses, based on 2011-2012 progress reports, are in the process of being paid out now.
In its annual “Options” report listing ways for the city to save funds and raise revenue, the IBO argues that the performance pay might be better off conserved. The annual report is meant to inform city government officials as they head into their final negotiations before adopting a budget for the 2014 fiscal year. The education department, which takes up about a quarter of the city’s planned spending, was listed in 14 of the 80 suggestions this year.
For each cost-cutting idea, the IBO lists arguments that supporters and opponents might make. For the performance pay idea, the report notes, ”Proponents might argue that the more weight that is placed on the Progress Reports, the more incentive there is for administrators and teachers to ‘teach to the test’ and even to manipulate data. Moreover, the remaining measurement problems in the Progress Reports might imply that the basis for awarding the bonuses is flawed.” (more…)
April 10, 2013
Hardly any city schools are getting the funding that the Department of Education’s own formula says their students need, according to a new report released today by the Independent Budget Office. (more…)
February 27, 2013
High schools up for closure this year actually serve fewer students with special needs than they used to, according to a new report by the city’s data watchdog group.
But because the nine high schools are much smaller than they once were, students with special needs still represent a far higher share of their total enrollment, according to the report released today by the city’s Independent Budget Office. All together, the high schools enrolled a third fewer new students last year than in 2006, the IBO found.
The report marks the fourth time that the IBO has compiled enrollment, spending, and performance data about schools that the city is trying to close. It also marked the fourth time that the office, which state law charges with scrutinizing Department of Education data, has concluded that schools up for closure have higher-than-average concentrations of high-need students. (more…)
September 24, 2012
An eleventh-hour effort by the City Council in June to maintain funding for thousands of after-school spots achieved its intended purpose — but it also inadvertently created a two-tiered after-school system in which only some programs can strive to meet higher academic standards.
That’s the conclusion of a report released last week by the Independent Budget Office about Out of School Time, a Bloomberg administration initiative to streamline publicly funded after-school programming. The report finds that the city’s simultaneous efforts to reduce costs and boost quality in OST programs induced Bloomberg’s proposal to cut after-school spots dramatically this spring.
City funding for the program rose from $61 million in 2007 to $108 million in 2009, allowing the number of seats to grow substantially, according to the report. But this year, after half a dozen rounds of city budget cuts, the proposed budget for the program fell to $76 million.
At the same time, the city had embarked on an effort to raise standards in programs that had originally operated with offering “safe and developmentally appropriate environments” as its major goal. With an eye toward using OST programs to support academic instruction, the city told programs that they would have to hire “educational specialists” to develop curriculum and lessons — increasing the cost per participant by nearly 60 percent. The increase would required the number of slots to be cut in half, meaning about 26,000 children would have been shut out of OST programs this year. (more…)
July 12, 2012
For years, the city touted its improved test scores, saying that higher and higher percentages of its students were proficient on the standardized exams.
A new report by the Independent Budget Office, which tracked the change in year-to-year test scores of individual students for the same period, disputes the gains the city claimed.
That’s because more than 60 percent of students from a single cohort who were tested from third to sixth grade between 2006 to 2009 on the English language arts exam didn’t improve their proficiency levels, the IBO analysis found. Thirty percent ended up at a higher level and eight percent ended up at a lower level.
“At a time when the city was saying things were getting better in the school system, it looks different when you look at performances of the individual student,” said Ray Domanico, director of education research at the IBO.
Domanico acknowledged that there were some limitations to looking at proficiency levels alone. He said comparing state test scores from one year to the next is less than ideal, because a proficiency level in third grade doesn’t necessarily mean a student learned nothing if they earn the same level in subsequent grades.
But given the data, Domanico said proficiency levels — rather than raw scores — was the only possible metric to measure individual student progress, in an era when education officials are increasingly evaluating schools and teachers based on students growth on test scores. He added that proficiency level is the most relevant metric to the public, because the city uses that data to make decisions about student promotion and admission, and shares it with parents. (more…)
April 27, 2012
Slashing parent coordinators, charging rent to charter schools, and limiting time spent in the Absent Teacher Reserve are among the menu items that the city’s budget watchdog said could save the city hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Independent Budget Office released its annual list of options that it believes city government officials should consider as they head into their final negotiations before adopting a budget for the 2013 fiscal year. The Department of Education, an agency that eats up about one-third of the $67 billion citywide budget, was listed in 10 of the 72 recommendations.
The IBO estimated that the city could raise $53 million in revenue by charging rent to charter schools and save $28 million if it slashed its summer school program.
The ideas reflected policy positions from all corners of the ideological map. Some of the proposals can also be found on a list of contract demands the city made in 2010. But others are straight from the teachers union’s wishlist.
“Mostly bad ideas,” a spokesman for the union, Dick Riley, wrote in an email, referring specifically to the summer school cuts. “And a few promising ones – like charging rent to charter operators.”
James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter Center, disagreed.
“Charter schools are public schools, so asking them to pay rent is like asking the fire department to pay for their firehouses or the NYPD to pay for their precincts,” Merriman said in a statement. (more…)
April 12, 2012
The system the city uses to award letter grades to schools is complicated and in some ways flawed — but it’s the best system we have.
That’s the conclusion of a report by the Independent Budget Office, the city’s budget watchdog that since 2009 has been charged with scrutinizing Department of Education data. The office examined the city’s progress reports, released annually since 2007, to see whether their underlying metrics produce meaningful results.
The progress reports were meant to radically reorient the way that New Yorkers thought about school performance. Instead of assessing schools simply by the proportion of students passing state tests, the progress reports focus on students’ improvement from year to year. In a precursor to the “value-added” measurements now being used to assess teachers, the reports use a complex and evolving algorithm that controls for student demographics to calculate just how much students have progressed.
The city then assigns each school a letter grade based on its score. The letter grades inform both the city’s decisions about which principals should receive bonuses and which schools should be considered for closure and families’ choices are where to enroll.
The IBO concludes that the progress reports offer a more sophisticated analysis of school performance than ever before — but that there is room for improvement. “The methodology used by the education department is a significant improvement over simply basing measures on comparisons of standardized test scores,” the report concludes. “Still, the School Progress Reports have to be interpreted with caution.” (more…)
March 29, 2012
The city’s early estimates of how much it will be spending on education next year are simultaneously too low and too high, according to an analysis released by the city’s Independent Budget Office today.
According to the IBO’s analysis, the city’s preliminary education budget overstates the total increase in Department of Education spending next year. But it also understates how much it will spend on 26 new charter schools that are set to open in September, according to the IBO, which pegs those schools’ costs at $51 million.
Overall, the report’s basic thrust is the same as in the IBO’s previous analysis of Mayor Bloomberg’s November financial plan: Spending on instruction is poised to fall as spending rises in other categories, such as pension and transportation costs.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Dennis Walcott explained to skeptical members of the City Council that the department expects a $64 million shortfall in the preliminary budget to disappear by the time the official budget is proposed in May. Between now and then, significant adjustments are likely.
Walcott also told the council that the department is committed to preventing any cuts to individual schools’ budgets, and the IBO’s report doesn’t affect that message, department officials said today. (more…)
February 9, 2012
For the third year in a row, the city’s data watchdog has concluded that the schools the city is trying to close serve especially needy students.
In 2010 and 2011, the Independent Budget Office put together longer reports about the city’s school closure proposals on the request of Robert Jackson, chair of the City Council’s education committee. But this year, the office, which has a special mandate to scrutinize the Department of Education’s facts and figures, compiled details about the demographics, performance, and funding of schools on the chopping block on its own. Then it released the statistics in an easy-to-read, stand-alone format.
Among the many people who are receiving the IBO’s 13-slide presentation by email today are the members of the Panel for Educational Policy, who are set to vote on the closure proposals tonight, according to spokesman Doug Turetsky.
“It’s an accessible format so people can see the stats and come to their own conclusions,” he said.
UPDATE: Department of Education officials disputed some of the data in the slides and said the budget office had not given them as much time to review the report before publication as an agreement between the two offices requires.
They urged the IBO not to release the report and then to retract it once it was published because data on at least one slide did not match information the city had provided. The budget office retracted one slide that showed change over time in the number of students with special needs at the schools.
But other slides showed that the schools up for closure enroll more than the average proportion of students who have disabilities, are overage, or are considered English language learners, confirming analyses published elsewhere. (more…)
December 23, 2011
The city’s budget watchdog predicted less money making its way to classrooms next year, even as it said the city’s overall economic outlook could be rosier than what Mayor Bloomberg has previously suggested.
The Independent Budget Office yesterday said that rising costs for contracts, employee benefits, and charter school payments appear poised to cut into the funds that the Department of Education is free to allocate to schools. The IBO analyzed this year’s budget and Mayor Bloomberg’s November financial plan and determined that spending for classroom instruction and school administration could drop by $300 million in 2013, a 3.3 percent decrease.
That’s because funds would likely have to be redirected to other areas of the DOE where costs are soaring, according to the report: pre-kindergarten special education contracts with private schools are set to increase by 10 percent, to $100 million; fringe benefits for school employees are expected to increase 2.5 percent, to $68 million; and payments to charter schools, which are enrolling more students each year, will go up 5.6 percent to $46 million.
City officials disputed the IBO’s projections of next year’s spending as premature.
“It’s impossible to say what we’re spending next year because we haven’t put out a budget, for schools or any other agency yet,” said City Hall spokesman Marc LaVorgna. A preliminary budget for the 2013 fiscal year is expected in January or February. (more…)