Posts tagged "Stuyvesant High School"
October 3, 2012
When I was a student studying Japanese at Stuyvesant High School, I remember learning the word for “cram school’: juku. Juku are extracurricular private schools that offer tutorial services for regular subjects in addition to intensive university entrance exam preparation. As a Stuyvesant student, this concept was not unfamiliar to me — spending days, weeks, (more…)
September 27, 2012
It seemed like a good strategy: To boost the tiny number of black and Hispanic students at the city’s most elite high schools, the city this year expanded access to programs meant to prepare eighth-graders for the schools’ admissions test.
But that approach is fundamentally broken, according to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which today filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.
“More tutoring and more test prep is not the answer,” said Damon Hewitt, LDF’s director of education. “We need a real paradigm shift.”
The complaint calls for a new way of admitting students to the city’s eight specialized high schools. The schools have long screened students by ranking their performance on a one-time exam, a practice that was written into state law in 1972 for the three schools that were then open.
But that approach has yielded student bodies that do not reflect the city’s demographics — or even the demographics of the students who take the test. Last year, black and Hispanic students made up 45 percent of test-takers, but they represented only 14 percent of admitted students. At Stuyvesant High School, the most selective and least racially diverse, just 25 black and Hispanic students were offered seats. (more…)
September 17, 2012
This week’s issue of New York Magazine has an in-depth profile of Nayeem Ahsan, the 16-year-old Stuyvesant High School student who helmed the school’s recent cheating scandal.
Last June, school officials caught Ahsan using his cell phone to help dozens of students cheat on Regents exams, which students must take before graduating. Since then, the city has launched an investigation and threatened many of the students involved with lengthy suspensions. And the school’s principal has retired, to be replaced by a former network leader who is also a Stuyvesant parent.
In the wake of these events, many GothamSchools readers told us that cheating is more widespread than officials would admit, and expressed suspicions of Principal Jie Zhang’s suggestion that the cheating ring was an isolated incident.
“I have not been made aware … or have a reason to believe that there is ongoing cheating there,” Zhang told reporters in a phone call shortly after being appointed.
The magazine piece also suggests otherwise. In addition to detailing Ahsan’s methods, which included sharing homework answers, procuring exams given by teachers in previous years, and texting students photos of entire exam booklets during last spring’s Regents exams, it describes a culture that encouraged cheating among many.
Ahsan said Stuyvesant’s educational environment put a premium on high-performance and competition. The structure of his classes often presented opportunities to game the system: (more…)
September 11, 2012
The crackdown on cell phones at Stuyvesant High School has extended in some cases to laptop computers and tablets, according to people in and close to the school.
With the school year just four days old, parents already buzzed in emails to each other about the confiscations. But school officials are in the process of explaining the abrupt change in the way they plan to handle phones and other electronic devices, and the devices will be permitted under some circumstances, students said today.
Monday’s confiscations came after Stuyvesant teachers and administrations seized 17 cell phones on the first two days of the school year. While city students have long been banned from bringing cell phones into schools, students at Stuyvesant and other schools where security is generally not a concern say their principals and teachers have usually turned a blind eye to phones that emerge in their classrooms. But after a student used a cell phone to help dozens of students cheat on final exams in June, Stuyvesant’s new principal seems to be renewing enforcement.
The crackdown has in some ways jolted the tech-savvy community at Stuyvesant, which includes course offerings that often requires extensive work on computers. Students said today that nearly everyone brought a smartphone, laptop or tablet to school in the past and had grown accustomed to using them freely throughout the day.
The Department of Education’s regulations about school security say that “ipods, beepers and other communication devices” are also verboten.
It’s the last point, about communication, that seems to have muddied enforcement of the policy at Stuyvesant. Department officials say computers that don’t communicate are allowed in schools, and they are passing the message along to teachers at Stuyvesant. (more…)
September 7, 2012
A dozen Stuyvesant High School students will be suspended for as long as two weeks and more than 50 others could face short-term suspension for cheating.
The punishments are only one component of the school’s renewed response to a broad cheating scandal that broke this summer. Stuyvesant’s new principal, Jie Zhang, is also requiring students to sign on to an academic honesty policy, urging the creation of an “honor code,” and cracking down on student cell phones.
Department of Education officials announced in July that they had determined that 71 students had cheated on final exams, with all but two receiving answers in advance to a city Spanish exam. They said at the time that a student who provided the answers would be suspended and not allowed to return to the school, the city’s most elite. They also said more punishments could come this fall but did not say how many students faced suspension.
Today, the city announced that the number is 66. Zhang informed the students and their families today about the suspensions, which for some students will start on Monday.
A second phase in the department’s investigation into the cheating, which is ongoing, is looking at the school’s original response. The department did not learn about the cheating until nearly a week after then-Principal Stanley Teitel sent a letter to parents informing them that some students had been punished, and the penalties the school levied did not match those outlined in the city’s discipline code. (more…)
August 6, 2012
A longtime educator who began her career teaching girls in jail has been named acting principal at the city’s most selective high school.
Jie Zhang, who led a different elite high school for five years, will be interim acting principal at Stuyvesant High School, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. She replaces Stanley Teitel, the school’s 11-year principal, who announced his retirement last week amid an investigation into a cheating scandal at the school.
“We are fortunate to have tremendous leaders and talented teachers like Jie Zhang in New York City public schools, and we are thrilled to have her join the Stuyvesant High School community,” Walcott said in a statement.
Zhang is not actually new to Stuyvesant: She has been a parent there since 2005, when her older child enrolled, and last year she headed the Department of Education “network” that Teitel selected to support the school. Her daughter is a junior.
The cheating scandal that erupted in June implicated more than 70 students, giving rise to criticism that Stuyvesant’s cutthroat environment encourages students to take shortcuts to success. But in a phone call with reporters today, Zhang said she did not learn about widespread cheating at Stuyvesant as either a parent or an administrator. Still, she said, improving the school’s “culture” so that cheating does not take place is her first goal.
“I have not been made aware … or have a reason to believe that there is ongoing cheating there,” Zhang said. “However, my top priority is to create a positive school culture that ensures integrity and zero tolerance for cheating.” (more…)
August 6, 2012
The sudden and surprising leadership change at Stuyvesant High School is an opportunity to make the school more diverse and less cutthroat, according to a graduate who is running for mayor.
Tom Allon, a long-shot mayoral candidate who graduated from the elite city high school in 1980 and later briefly taught there, made the case in a press release sent this morning in response to Friday’s resignation of Stanley Teitel, the school’s principal since 1999. Teitel announced his retirement amid a cheating scandal and an investigation into how he handled it.
“I’m afraid Stuyvesant has become a place where education and knowledge have taken a backseat to testing and grades and hyper-vigilance about college admissions — not unlike the testing and data-driven grading that is crushing the life out of public education throughout America,” Allon said in his press release.
Allon suggests that the school switch to an A-F grading system, instead of awarding numerical grades on a scale of 100, which he said encourages students to worry about small swings in their grade-point averages.
He also offers a slate of recommendations geared at shaking up the ultra-competitive admissions process, which for decades has been based solely on scores on the city’s Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. (more…)
August 3, 2012
Just weeks after a cheating scandal erupted at Stuyvesant High School, the schools longtime principal has resigned.
Stanley Teitel delivered his letter of resignation to Chancellor Dennis Walcott at 3:30 p.m. today, according to the Department of Education.
Teitel and Stuyvesant were thrust under scrutiny in June after news broke that dozens of students at the ultra-competitive school had received answers in advance to a Spanish exam via one student’s cell phone.
Teitel sent a letter to parents June 20 alerting them to the cheating and informing them that students suspected of cheating would lose some privileges, such as the right to leave campus for lunch. But the city did not find out about the cheating allegations for nearly a week after that letter went home, and the penalties the school levied did not match those outlined in the city’s discipline code.
An initial phase of the cheating investigation concluded in early July, with the city requiring 69 students to retake the end-of-year Spanish exam they took in June.
When he announced the penalties, Walcott said the next phase would be to examine whether Teitel and his staff followed the appropriate protocol after learning about the cheating. (more…)
March 1, 2012
In Room 307 of Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, 23 students spent a recent afternoon copying tables and number trees representing a mathematical problem-solving technique used in graphic design computer software.
The students, who all won admission to Stuyvesant by posting top scores on an entrance exam, listened raptly as their teacher, Mike Zamansky, walked them through the complex algorithm behind “seam-carving,” a process used in resizing images. Then Zamansky checked to make sure they understood.
“No problem? Seems reasonable? or ‘Huh’?” he asked, offering students the chance to signal by a show of thumbs whether they understood or needed more help. No one pointed a thumb down.
Zamansky has been teaching computer science since 1995, through a program he designed for students to follow from sophomore to senior year. Stuyvesant’s program is the only rigorous computer science sequence in the city’s public schools and one of the few in the country.
Now it is the inspiration behind a new city high school that aims to change that.
Founded by an influential venture capitalist with deep ties to the technology industry and a young principal fresh from the city’s training program, the Academy for Software Engineering will be the city’s first school to focus on software engineering. The goal is to extend the approach of Zamansky’s classes — which teach problem-solving, network communications, and programming language literacy — to any student in the city, even if they can’t make the cut for Stuyvesant or don’t even have a computer at home. (more…)
February 29, 2012
An earlier timeline for the city’s high school admissions process didn’t equate to a higher match rate between students and schools.
Data released today by the Department of Education about high school admissions show that 90 percent of the 77,137 eighth-graders who applied to high school this year were matched with a school during the first round of the city’s admission process, just under half to their first-choice schools.
But about one in 10 did not get into any school, roughly the same proportion as last year, when the city induced a flood of applications to top schools by listing schools’ graduation rates in the high school directory for the first time. Students who did not get a seat will have to choose from schools that did not fill up in the main round of the admissions process, likely because too few students sought spots in them.
The data also reveal at least small strides in two enrollment areas the city has identified as problems. First, the number of black and Hispanic students offered spots at the city’s specialized high schools inched upward, although it remains woefully low. Plus, students with disabilities will also get a second chance to win admission to a number of selective schools as part of a city initiative to require those schools to enroll more special education students.
The admissions decisions, which schools will begin distributing to students today, come a full month earlier than the city has ever before informed most students about their high school placements. That’s because the city shifted this year to a unified admissions schedule for the first time. (more…)