Posts tagged "NCLB"
April 11, 2012
New York City schools are closed this week, but that didn’t stop students and teachers from showing up at their transfer school in Bushwick this afternoon.
The group was joined by U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez to protest the planned closure of Bushwick Community High School, a school they say was unfairly dragged into the city’s newest effort to reform low-rated schools.
BCHS landed on the state’s persistently lowest-achieving list because just 25 percent of its students graduate within six years, but supporters say graduation rates are a misguided way to measure the school’s performance.
The school exclusively enrolls students who have already dropped out of traditional high schools and spent long stints out of the school system. Since many of the students who enroll at BCHS are 17 or older, they are rarely in a position to graduate within six years of entering high school.
Today’s protest was not the first display of opposition that the school has mounted. In January, teachers at the school sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg asking that he remove BCHS from his list of planned closures.
BCHS’s placement on the PLA list is the illogical conclusion of a crude, one-size-fits all accountability system. As a transfer school, BCHS is designed to be part of the solution for struggling students in the city, but the current accountability metrics punish us for working with our students while allowing the source of their failures to go undetected.
January 6, 2012
New York will get new terms for high- and low-performing schools — and new ways to define good and bad performance — under a proposed accountability plan designed to replace the requirements of No Child Left Behind.
The proposal, which was released in draft form late today and will be discussed by the Board of Regents on Monday, is the result of two months of planning in response to the Obama administration’s offer to waive some of the decade-old federal law’s requirements, including one that requires full proficiency by 2014. In exchange, states must to commit to prioritizing college readiness, setting guidelines for teacher and principal evaluations, and holding schools and districts accountable for their students’ performance on state tests.
Under the proposal, the bulk of the state’s testing program would remain unchanged. But elementary and middle school students would take science tests; the bar to be considered proficient on high school exams would be raised; and proficiency would be calculated not just by whether students met certain benchmarks, but by how much they improved.
Schools that fall short would not get extra funding to pay for tutoring services, an arrangement that has shown mixed results. Instead, they would get extra money to carry out more of the initiatives that the Regents themselves have endorsed, such as improving teacher training and revising curriculum standards.
Five percent of low-scoring schools would become Priority Schools and have to undergo federally mandated school overhaul approaches. Another 10 percent would become Focus Schools, and their districts would have to develop plans to improve them.
For the first time, school districts will be evaluated with the same scrutiny as schools were under NCLB.
“Since district policies often contribute to why schools have low performance for specific groups of students,” the proposal says, “districts must play a lead role in helping schools to address this issue.”
New York City, a district certain to house many Focus and Priority schools, will not be evaluated as one entire district, according to a provision. Instead, each of the city’s 32 districts would be evaluated based on state test scores for its schools. (more…)
October 26, 2011
The former principal of a now-closed city high school, a Columbia University economist, and a junior executive at the Department of Education are among the 32 people advising the state on how to apply for an exemption from No Child Left Behind’s requirements.
The officials represent 24 stakeholder organizations from around the state, including parent groups, unions, charter school advocates, and school districts. They form what’s being termed a “think tank” which is charged with coming up with a consensus of recommendations to submit to State Education Commissioner John King and Assistant Commissioner Ira Schwartz, who is overseeing the group.
The last time such a group was convened, for the teacher evaluation law passed last year, it ended in a lawsuit. According to the state teachers union, education officials rejected several key provisions proposed by a 63-member “task force” at the last minute.
The new group assigned to the NCLB waiver might not be as contentious, some members who served on both groups said. For one, state officials specifically renamed the group from a “task force” to a “think tank” — in part to remind the members of their advisory role. A spokesman for NYSED said King and Schwartz pass the task force’s recommendations – as well as their own – onto the state Board of Regents, which has final decision-making power. (more…)
October 17, 2011
ALBANY — New York is joining the vast majority of states seeking to escape some of the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The Obama administration announced in August that it would offer states a chance to skirt some of NCLB’s strictest provisions, including the one that requires all students to score proficient on state tests by 2014. Last month, federal officials fleshed out the requirements and states lined up to apply — 39 so far, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. New York seemed to be a strong contender but officials here had not said until now whether the state would seek a waiver.
Today, state education officials announced that they plan to file a waiver application by the federal government’s second deadline, in mid-February.
Between now and then, a “think tank” of representatives from nearly two dozen education organizations will advise the State Education Department on its application, officials said today during a meeting of the Board of Regents. The think tank — whose members come from teachers unions, advocacy groups, reform organizations, and rural and urban school districts — have met twice already to plan and will discuss substantive issues for the first time when it convenes on Wednesday.
Ira Schwartz, the assistant commissioner in NYSED’s accountability office, will oversee the application process. (more…)
September 29, 2008
In October, New York State is submitting a growth model proposal to the U.S. Department of Education, I learned at last week’s public forum on the proposal. What would school and district accountability look like under the new model?
For grades 3-8, schools would earn points towards meeting Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) for each student scoring proficient or above (a level 3 or 4 on state tests), but would also earn full points for level 1 and 2 students whose growth indicates that they are on track to become proficient within a four-year period.
The graph above provides an oversimplified example. The blue line represents the cutoff score for proficiency at each grade level. Bill and Ted each start out 100 points below proficient. In 4th grade, Bill has gained enough that he is now only 70 points below proficient. As you can see by the red line, if he continued to grow at this rate, he would reach proficiency easily by 7th grade. Therefore, Bill is deemed to be on-track to proficiency, and his school would get full credit towards Annual Yearly Progress for him.
Ted, on the other hand, is still 95 points below proficient in 4th grade. He made more than a year’s growth, but if he continues to grow at this rate, he will not reach proficiency by 7th grade. Ted’s school would not get full-credit towards AYP for him.
Of course, in real life, students don’t grow at exactly the same rate every year. (more…)
September 26, 2008
Dozens of educators, policymakers, and advocates gathered at United Federation of Teachers headquarters this morning for the first in a series of public forums to discuss proposed changes to New York State’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability system. The Board of Regents is seeking feedback on a new growth model, which is designed to provide “differentiated accountability” for schools, before they submit it for approval by the federal department of education in mid-October.
Ira Schwartz of the New York State Education Department presented the proposal, stressing that a growth model allows the state to more carefully assess the work of schools by looking both at the number of students meeting absolute proficiency standards and the rate of growth of students who have not yet reached proficiency.
By combining these measures, he said, the state could differentiate between schools with low absolute scores where students made significant growth, and schools with both low scores and low growth. The same distinction could be made for schools with high absolute scores, separating schools that continued to push students to higher levels from those where individual students do not make much progress.
The state hopes to use a growth model both to “make more refined… decisions” about whether schools have made Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), and to go beyond AYP to measure the growth of students who have already reached proficiency. Schwartz noted that while the use of a growth model for determining AYP status must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the second part of the proposal, going beyond NCLB to look at the growth of proficient students, does not require federal approval.
Schwartz’s presentation mentioned New York City’s Progress Reports as an example of a locally-developed initiative that takes student growth into account, which sparked criticism by some educators in the room. “I hope they’re not using New York City as a model of success for this,” one principal said during the question-and-answer period.
And Leo Casey, who spoke for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), emphasized that any accountability model must be fair and complete, accurate, and transparent — no “statistical hieroglyphs,” in order to be meaningful to teachers and families. “If grades and accountability careen all over the place, from F to A and A to F, educators will experience them like the weather,” he said. Casey concluded that although there are still areas needing work, the state’s proposal is an improvement over the current system.
Upcoming posts will detail the state’s proposals for elementary and middle schools, high schools, and for measuring the growth of already proficient students.
August 20, 2008
Nineteen schools in New York state – including 16 from the city – were deemed “persistently dangerous,” down from 27 last year, the state department of education announced today. Eight schools are new to the list, while sixteen were removed as a result of reporting fewer incidents. The list is based on the number of serious incidents relative to the number of students, and the seriousness of those incidents.
Under the No Child Left Behind act, students have the right to transfer out of persistently dangerous schools, although the late-summer release of this list would seem to make transfer difficult for many families. NCLB requires that the list be released no more than two weeks before the start of the school year.
June 18, 2008
Today’s big news is what the Times terms “the Robin Hood effect” of No Child Left Behind: the reality that as schools have redoubled their efforts to help low-performing students get higher test scores, more successful students have lost out. This reality is the subject of a new report out of the Fordham Foundation, titled “High Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB” (pdf), which concludes that new accountability systems invariably increase pressure most for increased performance among the lowest achievers and that despite their widespread belief in equal time for all students, teachers make their weakest students their highest priorities. Since 2000, the report finds, the lowest-scoring students in states with test-based accountability systems increased their scores on federal tests by almost 6 percentage points, while the highest-scoring kids boosted their scores by less than 2 percent.
Two questions: First, doesn’t the conclusion suggest that NCLB is doing its job? After all, we’re not closing the achievement gap when everyone improves equally — we’re just moving it.
Second, and more seriously, Eduwonkette has written before about the need for “interval scaling” in analyzing the implications of test scores — that is, in recognizing that movement at the low end of the spectrum is easier to accomplish than movement at the top. It’s not clear to me whether the folks at Fordham took interval scaling into account. If not, the numbers suggest to me that it’s possible that both sets of students may have derived equal benefit from their teachers and schools — but that equal benefit does not correlate with equal score gains.
Despite the unanswered questions, the blogs are abuzz today with suggestions about how NCLB can be tweaked to provide incentives to help high-performing kids, given that the law’s incentives for teachers to help their weakest students appear to have been effective. Chad Aldeman at the Quick and the Ed, the Education Sector’s blog, writes that he hopes the report opens the door to value-added assessment becoming an accepted form of accountability under NCLB. Like many others, he wants to see schools evaluated on the basis of how successful their teachers are in moving students at least one grade level in one school year.
A variation on value-added was part of the progress reports that the DOE issued for the city’s schools for the first time last year. More than half of each school’s letter grade was based on what the DOE termed “student progress”: a combination of whether teachers moved students one grade during the year and “extra credit” based on the improvement of subgroups within each school, such as black students, the lowest third of students, and kids in special education. But in addition to being statistically flawed, the progress reports were poorly received because they gave low grades to high-performing schools and high grades to low-performing ones, including many that are on the state’s list of failing schools and a few that are on the verge of closing. The progress reports contained some useful information — information that many education pundits today say has been missing from the national conversation about achievement — but their reception underscores the fact that data ought not be associated with consequences in order to be illuminating.
Finally, in response to the Fordham report, Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust makes the important point in the Times that schools don’t actually have to pick between helping weak and strong students — a successful school will offer opportunities for both kinds of kids to improve. In some pockets of the city, such as in Brooklyn’s District 15, principals, aware of the targeted resources made available for low-scoring students, have made a deliberate effort to create special opportunities for all students by introducing what’s known as the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Under this model, promoted by University of Connecticut professor Joseph Renzulli, all students choose a topic or skill of interest to them and pursue those topics in small, mixed-ability, and often mixed-age groups. Of course, like all programs, SEM can be implemented well or botched, depending on the school. But it offers a low-cost model under which teachers might direct attention to students with all levels of ability.