New York state should include a greater focus on high-achieving students when it designs a system for judging schools under the new federal education law, according to a report released Tuesday evening by a conservative-leaning think tank.
The state’s current accountability system earned zero out of three stars, signifying that New York could do more to judge schools based on whether all students progress, says the report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, D.C.
The report argues that New York state doesn’t incentivize schools to push students beyond a high enough bar, schools do not sufficiently report growth of all students, and the state does not report progress for “gifted students” specifically. New York joins nine other states that did not receive any stars in the think tank’s report.
“New York has one of the very worst school accountability systems in the country, especially with respect to high achieving students,” said Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute in an email to Chalkbeat. “Especially for a state that used to encourage academic excellence through its old Regents exams, this fall from grace is stunning.”
Just four states — Arkansas, Ohio, Oregon and South Carolina — have systems in place to encourage schools to focus on their highest performing students as well as their lowest, the report said.
The recommendations come as states are tinkering with how they rate schools under the nation’s new federal education law.
Like previous versions of the law, the Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states identify the lowest performing schools. While the new law continues to require states to measure the quality of schools using results from annual standardized tests in reading and math, states are free to choose other measures of school quality.
Fordham’s report asserts that an unintended consequence of previous accountability systems is that high-performing students, especially those at struggling schools, were left without support to push them even further in their academic pursuits.
“It’s wrong for any child to miss out on academic challenges at school, and we should do everything we can to develop the full potential of all our students, including high achievers,” the report’s authors wrote.