Posts tagged "middle schools"
January 10, 2013
Changes meant to help schools overhaul their special education programs have instead left principals scrambling for a budget fix.
Middle and high school principals are learning this week that the Department of Education is planning to take back thousands of dollars earmarked to help their schools serve students with special needs — over a budget technicality.
“Students with disabilities are the ones who lose out in this — and schools’ ability to provide what [students] need,” said a principal whose school faces a cut.
The issue stems from a new funding formula adopted this year as part of the Department of Education’s efforts to bring students with disabilities out of self-contained classes whenever possible. (more…)
December 11, 2012
One in five city eighth-graders graduated from middle school last year without completing the state’s basic requirements for arts education.
That data point is one of many contained in the city’s Annual Arts in Schools Report, which tallies arts instruction, staff, and spending.
At an event for arts advocates this morning to launch the report, Department of Education officials emphasized that schools’ time devoted to and money spent on arts instruction held steady or increased since last year. But they said there remain major areas where improvement is needed.
“We have to do more work with middle schools,” said Chancellor Dennis Walcott, echoing a sentiment he has expressed many times since launching an initiative aimed at boosting the city’s lagging middle schools last year. He said the department would convene a special committee to study arts in middle schools and make recommendations for changes.
Just 81 percent of last year’s eighth-graders graduated having fulfilled the state’s arts requirement of one credit in two different disciplines. In 2010, that figure was 85 percent. And the requirements are weaker than what the state originally set out: Walcott said the city had gotten a waiver from the state to allow dance and theater classes to count toward the graduation requirement, in addition to music and visual art. (more…)
October 24, 2012
Nearly a year after beginning their search for an exceptional middle school to lead a push to boost literacy in struggling schools, city officials have concluded that no school is good enough.
After the city launched its Middle School Quality Initiative last year, it selected two dozen underperforming schools to receive special training and thousands of dollars in program funding. Then it picked more successful schools to be “anchors” that would teach them. Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School became a model for teacher collaboration, and schools were sent to M.S. 244 to learn about using data to detect signs that students are at-risk.
The city also wanted to push the 23 schools on literacy, where their students especially lagged. But officials said they could find no middle school strong enough to use as the emblem of the literacy initiative.
“There isn’t an anchor we could turn to to say, ‘Show us the magic of how it’s all done together,’” said Nancy Gannon, the department official overseeing MSQI.
Nonetheless, as MSQI expanded from 24 schools at first (six with only partial funding) to 49 this year, the department also expanded the initiative’s literacy program. The schools are getting extra funds and monthly trainings focused exclusively on literacy, in a program that officials consider it the most significant part of the citywide initiative. (more…)
October 1, 2012
Almost twice as many elementary and middle schools are eligible for closure under the Department of Education’s longstanding rules this year, according to the schools’ 2011-2012 progress reports.
Since 2007, the city has given schools a letter grade each year based largely on calculations of their students’ test scores. Schools that receive an F, D, or three consecutive C’s or worse can be closed.
Last year, 120 schools fell into that category, and the department ultimately moved to close 10 of them. But this year, 217 schools received those grades, suggesting that this year’s closure toll could be greater than in the past.
The most dramatic change was a jump in schools receiving their third straight grade of C or below — from just five last year to 114 this year.
The striking jump is a late-onset effect of the state’s 2010 decision to raise the proficiency bar on its state tests. In 2009, just two schools had received F’s and 84 percent earned A’s. But that year, most schools saw their test scores fall, and nearly 70 percent of schools saw their progress report grades drop, too. The progress reports released today were the third since the change.
Caught in the metrics were some popular schools, such as Central Park East I and the Earth School in Manhattan, as well as 16 of Staten Island’s 52 elementary and middle schools. (more…)
October 1, 2012
For the first time since introducing school progress reports in 2007, the Department of Education has reduced the weight of state test scores in determining middle schools’ scores on their state test scores.
The change is slight, allocating just 5 percent of the calculation toward the grades schools hand out, but it reflects a significant shift within the Department of Education. After years of saying that the state’s current tests are not the ideal measure of students’ abilities, the department is — to a limited extent — putting its metrics where its mouth is.
Until now, 85 percent of elementary and middle schools’ scores have come from crunching the scores in different ways. But on the 2011-2012 progress reports, which are coming out today, that proportion has dropped slightly for middle schools, to 80 percent. The difference will be made up by schools’ course passage rates in the core subjects of English, math, science, and social studies.
The change, which the department promised a year ago, makes year-to-year progress report score comparisons hard to make yet is unlikely to dramatically alter schools’ scores on its own. Still, it signals that the city is projecting onto middle schools growing concerns about the mismatch between how city students perform on some high-stakes accountability metrics and how well prepared they are to take on more challenging work. (more…)
September 19, 2012
If the Bloomberg administration has executed any education policy promises with fidelity, it has been around opening new schools. But its record on the trickier task of improving existing schools has been more mixed.
That trend continued last year, according to our analysis of the city’s progress toward fulfilling the education commitments it made during between September 2011 and August 2012. We found that Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott are on track to meet most of their school creation goals, but when it comes to improving ones that already exist, their success is less clear. (Each promise is in bold, followed by an explanation of how far the city has come toward meeting it.)
The city did better at fulfilling its school creation and improvement goals than it did at keeping its promises about boosting teacher quality, which we examined earlier this week. In the final part of this series, we will look at whether city officials have kept their word about taking new approaches to handling high-need students and engaging parents.
On creating new schools:
- The city will open 100 new schools before the end of 2013, including 50 charter schools. (Bloomberg’s State of the City address, January 2012)
The city is so far on track to hit this goal. Fifty-four new schools are opening this fall, bringing the total number of schools that have opened under the Bloomberg administration to 589. Of the newest crop of schools, 24 are charter schools.
- Fifty new middle schools will open by 2013, of which 25 will be charter schools. (Walcott’s middle schools speech, September 2011)
The city also chipped away mightily at this number, and depending on the method of counting might be more than on track to hit the total. This year, 18 of the 54 new schools opened with middle school grades, including seven charter schools. Another eight of the new schools, all charter schools, opened with elementary grades but plan to serve middle school students once they are at full enrollment in several years.
- The city will help high-performing charter networks grow faster. (State of the City)
When Bloomberg made this promise, he specifically name-checked Success Academies and KIPP as two networks whose strong performance he would like to see replicated. This year, three new Success Academy charter schools and one new KIPP school opened in the city. All of them had sought to open since long before Bloomberg made the commitment. At least five other local charter schools also replicated this year.
- The city will bring in charter school operators that run successful schools elsewhere. (State of the City)
The city has so far struck out here: Except for KIPP, which has long run New York City schools, none of this year’s new charter schools are part of national networks. One operator that Bloomberg specifically mentioned, Rocketship Education, opened two new charter schools in its native California but so far has not opened or even proposed a school for New York. Its CEO has said dozens of districts have recruited the network but he is wary of operating under different regulations in different places. (more…)
July 18, 2012
The state released the results of this year’s third through eighth grade tests yesterday, and officials from City Hall to the charter sector lept to celebrate students’ gains.
Some changes were the focal point of the Department of Education’s Tuesday afternoon press conference—like the drop among English Language Learners and the boosts charter schools saw. But they avoided nuances in the results for the city’s new schools, which have been at the center of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education reform policies. Beyond first impressions, here are seven interesting takeaways we parsed from the trove of data:
- Like last year, English Language Learners took a step back. Students who are identified as English Language Learners improved slightly in math, but took another step back from the statistical gains they made on the literacy test (ELA) earlier in the decade, before the state made the exams tougher in 2010. While just under half of the city’s non-ELL students met the state’s ELA standards, just 11.6 percent of ELL students did so. But in math, the percentage of ELL students scoring proficient rose by 2.5 points, to 37 percent.
- But students in other categories that typically struggle showed improvements. The percentage of students with disabilities who are proficient in math and literacy went up again this year, to 30.2 percent in math and 15.8 percent in English. And although Black and Hispanic students are still lagging behind their white peers by close to thirty percentage points in literacy and math, they also saw small bumps in both subjects. Officials said that new initiatives targeting struggling students, particularly students of color, contributed to the gains. (more…)
April 3, 2012
Efforts to improve the city’s middle schools have come a long way since they were announced six months ago, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said today in a policy speech delivered days before his one-year anniversary of his sudden appointment.
Walcott returned to the same venue where he first announced the middle school reforms — New York University’s Kimmel Center – to deliver the keynote speech at a middle school colloquium hosted by NYU Steinhardt’s Research Alliance for New York City Schools. In his speech, Walcott said the city was in the process of rolling out a host of initiatives that the the Department of Education had either created or expanded since September, all in the interest of improving middle schools, which he said had become his main priority during his tenure.
“If we truly care about preparing our students for success in college and careers, middle school needs to be a central focus of our policies,” Walcott said.
Walcott announced that the DOE had allocated about $500,000 to develop new training programs for 150 teachers and 10 principals who he hoped would work specifically in middle schools. And he said the city would exceed his goal of creating 50 new middle schools in the next two years. Twenty-six new middle schools, including 14 charter schools, will open next fall and 28 more schools — including another 14 charters — are set to open in 2013. (more…)
April 3, 2012
In a speech this morning, Walcott outlined efforts that the Department of Education has already made, such as opening new schools and recruiting 150 new teachers to get extra training before starting in middle school classrooms this fall.
He also announced additional new initiatives, including a summer program to give extra help to middle school students who score just below proficient on state tests and a training program for prospective middle school leaders that will be run in part by Teach For America.
We’ll have more about Walcott’s speech and the initiatives he discussed later today. For now, here’s the complete speech as prepared for delivery at New York University this morning. The university is hosting an all-day symposium about research about what works in middle schools organized by the Research Alliance, the independent body of academics given access to city schools data.
December 8, 2011
Parents in Manhattan’s District 2 came to a town hall meeting Wednesday night with Chancellor Dennis Walcott with one item at the top of their agendas: plans to manage school crowding.
But Walcott wanted to talk about other things. He opened his remarks by talking about the city’s scores on a national exam, then segued into announcing that the Department of Education would soon name the schools it wants to close.
No District 2 schools are on the city’s shortlist for closure. Three high schools located in the district, but not administered by it, are on the list.
Walcott was tight-lipped about which schools would receive closure notices over the next two days. But he said department officials had been considering whether the shortlisted schools “have the capacity to improve.” And he told reporters that the decisions would support the middle school reform initiative he announced earlier this year.
“I made a commitment around middle schools and I intend to adhere to that commitment,” Walcott said. “I want 21st-century middle schools that are meeting the needs of our students.”
Most of the roughly three dozen parents who braved heavy rain to attend the meeting wanted to talk about the demand for new neighborhood elementary schools and the city’s recent rezoning proposals. (more…)