Posts tagged "shael polakow-suransky"
October 19, 2012
When Department of Education officials announced their interest in creating a teacher certification program earlier this week, the city’s teachers union and many of our commenters responded with concern and alarm.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said he “strongly opposes” any effort to give the city authority over teacher certification, a process currently reserved almost exclusively for education colleges. City officials said it could help alleviate the shortage of teachers in some subject areas, but Mulgrew contended that the department’s policies are to blame for the system’s shortages.
He called the department’s professional development record “abysmal” and argued that it is encouraging teachers to flee the profession. Many of our commenters agreed.
“Lisa” was among the commenters to question how well the city could train the uncertified teachers who would enroll in its program (and eventually work in the schools):
Wow, “fast tracking” a fresh out of college special education teacher who will not even need a masters degree by placing him or her alongside a veteran teacher in a “thriving” school and then dumping them into a hard to staff school. I bet there are a ton of parents of special ed kids who can’t wait to have that kind of teacher. (more…)
October 18, 2012
The Department of Education hasn’t officially submitted a proposal to train and certify its own teachers, but already the plan has encountered stiff resistance.
Just two days after a top department official floated the idea during testimony at Governor Cuomo’s education reform commission, New York City teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said he “strongly opposes” any effort to give the city authority over teacher certification, a process currently reserved almost exclusively for education colleges.
State and city officials contend that handing off certification duties to the education department would help chip away at the long-standing problem of teacher shortage some subjects.
But citing teacher attrition data from the 2006-2007 school year, Mulgrew wrote in a letter to commission Chair Richard Parsons today that if anyone is to blame for the teacher shortages in the school system, it is the education department.
Of the 6940 teachers hired that year, 38.9 percent have left the system, according to data provided by the UFT. That rate increased to 50 percent for teachers of Science, English and English as a Second Language.
“The specific problems of staffing these shortage areas are not a function of poor teacher training in existing institutions, but rather the DOE’s abysmal record of supporting, developing and retaining the teachers it already has,” Mulgrew wrote. (more…)
October 16, 2012
The city and other school districts desperately need additional funding if they are to raise academic standards, Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky said today.
Even though the city has done more to integrate new learning standards known as the Common Core than other districts and states, it cannot adequately train staff or buy the materials it needs with the resources it currently has, he said.
“We are bound to fall short if we raise the standards without investing in the support that educators need to meet this challenge,” he told the commission, according to his written statement.
The call for additional funding was one of three priorities that Polakow-Suransky outlined before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform commission today. The funding, he said, would be necessary to to purchase new books, software and other learning tools aligned to the Core, and help schools hire coaches to train teachers in the implementation of the Core. He also said the city needed more funds to develop a key piece of the new teacher evaluation system, rigorous assessments developed by the city for each grade level and subject area that would factor into teachers’ evaluations on top of many other criteria.
“As these assessments become more authentic there are real costs that come along with them,” Polakow-Suransky said. “None of this is funded.”
Polakow-Suransky was offering a solution to a problem that United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told the commission had already arrived. Mulgrew said the Common Core rollout has already been hindered by the lack of robust materials aligned to the new standards that teachers can use in classrooms now. (more…)
October 11, 2012
Educators have gotten a few hints into what new, more challenging state exams could look like this spring. To help them prepare more, city officials are encouraging them to review old exams and new sample questions side by side to see exactly what has changed.
While teachers waited for the state to release examples of how they are re-imagining the yearly exams to line up with new, Common Core curriculum standards, city officials offered their own comparison guide. The guide took the form of a slideshow, with examples of Common Core-aligned math and English tasks developed by city officials, and an explanation of how they compared to old lessons.
And when the state’s only batch of sample test questions came out in late June, city officials prepared another comparison, but with official questions and 2010 exam questions. They presented the comparison to principals in June at an annual conference for school leaders, and then gave it to reporters earlier this month.
The comparisons, officials said, show that students can expect to read more challenging texts and see more multi-step math problems and word problems that reflect real-world scenarios.
They include a set of algebra problems for third- and sixth-graders from 2010, followed by comprable problems from a 2013 sample test. One new question, for example, asks sixth-graders to consider a clothing store offering a 30 percent discount on its wares. In three parts, students must not only find the reduced price of several items, but also figure out what an item would cost with an additional discount, or without a discount at all. The comparison question from 2010 is a word problem with just one step, asking students to divide two numbers. (more…)
September 5, 2012
Most classrooms were set up and schedules finalized at M.S. 223 in the Bronx this morning, 24 hours before students would arrive for the first day of school.
But teachers still needed to meet to review the lesson plans they are aligning to the state’s new curriculum standards, the Common Core. As they finished their breakfast and got to work, they were joined by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and his top deputy, Shael Polakow-Suransky, on the first of their two school visits today.
Walcott gave the teachers a quick pep talk before sitting in on their training sessions. But he cautioned that the school’s past successes — which include a strong arts program, summer classes, and a New York Times Magazine profile — were not enough.
“I think this is a tremendous school. You’ve had major accomplishments,” Walcott said. “We need to make sure we model what you’re doing and also improve on that performance as well.”
Like all city schools, M.S. 223 is contending with the new standards, looming changes to state tests, and citywide special education reforms aimed at better integrating students with disabilities.
Today, the teachers focused on a small piece of the sweeping changes: developing performance tasks, or assessments that reflect the Common Core’s emphasis on real-world applications of classroom learning. (more…)
August 22, 2012
Each spring, as part of its test monitoring program, the Department of Education disperses a small team to schools on testing days to scrutinize and enforce security guidelines. Some schools are picked randomly, but others were flagged by the department because allegations were lodged by school staff and test score data showed “anomalous” results in recent years, officials said.
During this year’s six-day elementary and middle school testing period in April, education department employees paid 41 visits to 37 schools, according to records obtained by GothamSchools in a Freedom of Information Law request.
The city would not specify which schools were the subject of a targeted monitoring visit, as opposed to a random one. But an analysis of test score data for the schools that had monitors visit showed that many had large increases in 2011, a year when the citywide pass rate barely budged. When monitors visited the schools for the 2012 tests, some of them saw sharp drops on its scores — even while the citywide average increased.
Not all monitored schools saw declines this year and, in fact, some saw large gains. But of the schools that made significant gains on either English or math in 2011, more than half regressed to some degree in 2012. One school’s math proficiency rate dropped by more than 40 percentage points.
The previously undisclosed details about the monitoring program comes at a time when state and federal education officials are increasingly focused on devising policies to improve the integrity of tests in the wake of cheating scandals that have erupted in other cities. The number of schools listed in the monitoring program also provides a limited glimpse into the scope of cheating allegations that the city education department receives and is able to deal with. (more…)
July 17, 2012
This afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg enjoyed what could be his last opportunity to point to clear gains on city test data.
The state is overhauling its testing program next year, and year-to-year comparisons favored by Bloomberg’s test analysts will soon become futile.
Until then, city officials are championing the small gains almost every group of students made on this year’s state tests, calling the scores a sign that some fledgling school initiatives are already working.
Breaking the test results down by race, grade level and students with disabilities, each group saw gains of one to four percentage points for the numbers of students scoring proficient on the literacy and math exams. But minority students are still performing well below their white peers, and the number of English Language Learners scoring proficient in literacy actually dropped by 1.8 percentage points.
“There is still a gap, and it is unacceptable, inexcusable and it is our responsibility to rectify it,” Bloomberg told reporters this afternoon. He speculated that the ELL scores dropped because the city has begun declassifying greater numbers of ELL students who have become proficient in English. (more…)
June 26, 2012
In an ideal world, the Department of Education would install dedicated college counselors in each city high school, according to Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky.
But doing so would cost the city more than $600 million, he said, so the department is trying instead to close the college-readiness gap with free or low-cost solutions, including training staff members at each school to offer college advice and tweaking the way school performance is measured.
Polakow-Suransky made the comments last week while appearing on a panel on college-readiness hosted by the Center for New York City Affairs. The center is set to release a report next month about why so few city students graduate with the skills they need for college — and what can be done about it.
Interviews with hundreds of students at struggling high schools conducted as part of the center’s research revealed that most had high aspirations for themselves, but few understood that simply graduating from high school would not ensure success in college. The findings reflect a dim reality: In 2010, when the city touted a 61 percent four-year graduation rate, just 21 percent of students who had entered high school in four years earlier met the state’s college-readiness standards.
The city’s main strategy for closing that gap is the Common Core, new learning standards that are supposed to push students to develop critical thinking skills required for college-level work.
But making sure students have the academic skills and knowledge to hack it in college is necessary but not sufficient to ensuring that they succeed there, said David Conley, a researcher who students college readiness. They also need “soft skills” such as persistence and “transition knowledge” about how to navigate the admissions process, he said. (more…)
June 12, 2012
A year ago, Department of Education officials gathered more than a thousand city principals in a hot auditorium for a speech by Common Core architect David Coleman. The energy in the room was “truly off the charts“ according to Chancellor Dennis Walcott, and it set the tone for this school year.
This year’s principals’ leadership conference, held Saturday at Brooklyn Technical High School, took a lower-key tone, focusing not on big ideas but on the nitty-gritty of implementing existing ones. A series of workshops delved into the Common Core learning standards, evolving state tests, looming special education reforms, and observing teachers — all issues that have dominated the city’s policy agenda for more than a year.
Instead of Coleman, whose standards are new for New York, the principals heard from Robert Evans, a clinical and organizational psychologist, and received copies of his book, “The Human Side of Change.” Evans urged principals to give the Common Core a positive spin while rolling it out in their schools.
That’s exactly what Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky urged when he instructed principals to continue to communicate the importance of the Common Core, especially as the state transitions to assessments based on the standards.
“As principal, one of your biggest challenges is to create a sense of urgency around this work without creating a sense of panic or anxiety,” he said during a portion of the day that was open to reporters. (more…)
June 1, 2012
Students who have been held back repeatedly will get a renewed shot at moving to the next grade under new regulations that the Department of Education has proposed.
When Mayor Bloomberg won control over the city schools in 2003, his first major initiative was to crack down on “social promotion,” or allowing students to move to the next grade regardless of whether they passed the year’s state tests. The ban first took effect in third grade in 2004 — enabled by Bloomberg’s purge of critics from the city school board — and extended to all tested grades in 2009.
The proposed regulations, announced today, would roll back that policy for a small and particularly challenging segment of the student population: those who are overage for their grade and have been held back multiple times.
Of the roughly 9,200 students who were held back last year, 1,200 fit into that category, according to the Department of Education.
Under the current promotion policy, principals aren’t allowed to advance students who failed state tests under any circumstance. The new regulations would ease that rule, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky wrote in a letter to principals this week. (more…)