Posts tagged "internal review"
April 30, 2012
A sweeping look at who attends charter schools in New York City, and how they fare, shows that the sector excels at advancing academic achievement but struggles to enroll high-needs students and to retain staff.
For the past nine months the New York City Charter School Center and a team of charter school founders have collected and crunched data on 35 different topics, including test scores, demographics, attrition, and enrollment. Their findings are laid out in a much-anticipated — and much-delayed — 40-page “State of the Sector” report, released today.
The report represents an inaugural effort to be more transparent about how charter schools in New York City are doing. Coming from a group that more often celebrates charter schools’ achievements, the report offers a blunt self-assessment of the sector, illuminating its shortcomings in student enrollment and staff retention while at the same making a case for it to continue to expand.
For instance, the report acknowledges “striking” staff attrition trends — nearly one-third of city charter school teachers leave annually — but points out the sector’s ability to achieve high academic results anyway. And while the schools serve low rates of students with special education and English language learners, the report emphasizes that those who do enroll tend to do better than their counterparts in district schools.
The report was originally scheduled to be released nearly two months ago. But the center needed more time to verify the data, then held the report until it could be released along with “dashboards” showing individual schools’ statistics, according to CEO James Merriman. Those dashboards were published on the center’s website today, although they have withheld some data, including staff attrition. (more…)
March 15, 2012
The state’s system for pursuing allegations of test fraud is disorganized, outdated and ill-equipped to root out cheating, according to a independent auditor’s findings released today.
wA four-month, self-imposed audit into the State Education Department’s current test integrity policies found nearly two dozen areas where the department was deficient in dealing with claims where cheating could have occurred on state tests. The audit came months after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged state commissioners across the country to scrutinize their test integrity practices following a spate of cheating scandals.
Among the recommendations made by the auditor, Hank Greenberg, was the creation of a new top-level office called the “Test Security Unit.” Officials said the office will be budgeted with $1 million annually to staff a team of seven investigators with backgrounds in law enforcement and law to deal with cheating allegations on a daily basis.
For the first time, state investigators will proactively seek out suspicious testing trends through data forensics and conduct their own probes, a change that Greenberg called a “paradigm shift.”
No office previously existed solely to investigate allegations and the audit’s findings suggest that SED does not have a realistic grasp for how widespread the cheating problem is. Until now, charges were logged and tracked through an antiquated paper-based system in an office that was ill-equipped to handle test integrity issues. Investigations were left up to local school districts, which had little incentive to comprehensively conduct such probes.
SED received fewer than 100 allegations per year from 2006-2011 and verified half of them, Greenberg said. (more…)
March 15, 2012
The Department of Education is moving to fire eight employees who continued to work in schools even after being found guilty of sexual misconduct.
The eight people were identified during a thorough review launched last month after multiple school workers were arrested and charged with inappropriately behavior toward students.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott said today that he was disturbed “as a chancellor and a parent and grandparent” by some of the “horrendous acts” that the review had turned up. He said the review had highlighted inadequacies in the teacher discipline process, a process over which the city would like more authority.
The review examined all school workers found to have behaved inappropriately since 2000 and referred by investigators for discipline. Walcott told reporters today that he personally examined about 250 cases and concluded that in some of them, appropriate action had been taken. In others, he said, the workers had left the system. And in even others, the investigations had concluded more than three years ago, meaning that it is too late for the department to issue a new punishment, even if one was merited.
Walcott said the department had alerted principals who supervise workers the department would prefer to discipline but legally cannot. Those people will be monitored closely in the future, he said.
“I am not going to tolerate any individual having any improper contact with any of our students,” Walcott said.
After the winnowing process, the department identified eight people – including four tenured teachers — whose punishments Walcott determined had not been adequate. (more…)
February 17, 2012
Chancellor Dennis Walcott set something of speed record today by announcing new policies to screen school employees for histories of abuse.
Earlier this week, Walcott vowed to review screening procedures for school aides after an aide at P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side was charged with sexual abuse of a student. The aide had been found to have inappropriately touched a student when he worked at a different elementary school, but P.S. 87 did not seem to have been aware of that investigation.
The arrest at P.S. 87 came just days after a different aide was charged with videotaping sex abuse he committed inside a Brooklyn elementary school. On Thursday, another school worker was arrested on sex abuse charges: a teacher at P.S. 174 in Queens who had been found more than a decade ago to have behaved inappropriately toward students.
Today, the Department of Education announced a new policy that will allow schools to see whether people they are considering hiring were ever found to have behaved inappropriately at other schools.
The schools will be able to see the results of any substantiated inquiry conducted by either office that investigates allegations of misconduct by school workers, not just inquiries relating to sex abuse. The department has an in-house investigations unit, the Office of Special Investigations, but also sends cases of misconduct to retired detectives at the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation. SCI had substantiated the abuse allegations against the school workers at P.S. 87 and P.S. 174. (more…)