Posts tagged "raising the bar"
August 9, 2010
What will national standards mean for New York City’s classrooms?
For the past few weeks, groups of principals, teachers and staff members have been gathering with their school networks to begin answering that question.
Last week, a large group of principals, assistant principals and teachers met in the cafeteria of P.S. 129 in Flushing, Queens. They came in teams of three from each school in a Children’s First Network led by Diane Foley.
The state won’t begin to use the core standards to test students until 2014.
But, as Foley and her staff reminded principals, the first group of students who will take the new exams — 2014′s fourth-graders — are entering kindergarten this fall. Foley’s goal was to nudge schools towards the core standards by helping them think of small changes they can make immediately.
“Let’s find one or two things that schools can do this year,” Foley said. “It’s about the little tiny steps you can take.” (more…)
July 23, 2010
Common standards have only just arrived on the national scene, but they are already making their way to the city’s schools.
On Monday, New York State officially committed to adopt national “common core” standards for what students should be expected to learn, which were released in their final form in June. But city officials have been laying the groundwork to introduce the standards to schools since May, and principals and some teachers started getting their feet wet this week.
That doesn’t mean that students will begin to see drastic changes in the lessons they’re taught and the tests they take this year, however. Instead, city officials said this week that their plan is to use next school year to let network leaders, principals and teachers determine how far their current teaching is from the new bar and figure out the best way forward.
By doing so, they’re hoping that schools can avoid the kind of nasty shock that comes from abrupt changes to testing standards that state officials are warning will happen this year as the state makes its tests more difficult to pass.
“What we want networks to do is help schools figure out what their entry point is,” said Josh Thomases, the city’s deputy chief schools officer. “Some schools may need to wade in; some schools will just need to dip their toes in.” (more…)
September 2, 2009
Defending this year’s school progress reports at a news conference this morning, Chancellor Joel Klein said the high marks given to an overwhelming majority of city schools did not mean the grading system had lost its value.
The reports, which the Department of Education began issuing two years ago, use a complex formula to assign each school a letter grade, allowing parents to compare schools and principals to see what areas need improvement. This year, the city gave 84 percent of elementary and middle schools A’s, while only 13 percent received a B and 2 percent received a C. A total of five schools were given D’s, and two were given F’s. (Philissa has some snapshots of the data here).
Last year, 38 percent of schools were given an A. In 2007, when the reports were first issued, 23 percent received that rating.
Responding to reporters’ questions about whether giving 97 percent of schools A and B’s had rendered the progress reports meaningless, Klein said that the grading system still served a purpose. He explained that the reports only measure whether a school has met the city’s goals for it, not whether it is above average. (more…)
April 7, 2009
Like Elizabeth, I was surprised to see a representative of the teachers union hand City Council members pre-printed cards with questions to ask during yesterday’s hearing on charter school expansion. Apparently, council members were taken aback by the move as well.
Organizations frequently provide information and suggestions for council members to use during hearings, according to a spokesman for Simcha Felder, the councilman who shared the cards with us. The spokesman, Eric Kuo, said Felder doesn’t think there is anything improper about the United Federation of Teachers and other groups suggesting questions to council members as one of their advocacy strategies.
But Kuo did say that the union took the strategy to a new level yesterday. “During the last hearing, it was more aggressive than before,” he said.
At the hearing, Felder drew uncomfortable looks from union officials sitting in the front row of the audience as he shared the cards with GothamSchools. Still, he even got up from his seat to collect the UFT’s question cards from his colleagues and pass them over to Elizabeth as well. Kuo said Felder shared the cards out of a commitment to transparency. “He doesn’t think it should be a secret” what council members have on their desks, Kuo said.