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By the numbers
March 12, 2015
District and charter schools post similar attrition rates, as enrollment debate presses on
New research shows that low-performing students leave charter and district at similar rates. But a debate about what that means for charters is growing increasingly feisty.
January 29, 2015
IBO: Charters do better than district schools at retaining students with disabilities
Reversing its earlier findings, the Independent Budget Office released numbers Thursday showing that charter schools have done a slightly better job retaining young students with disabilities than neighboring district schools.
February 19, 2014
IBO admits charter school special ed attrition numbers missed the full picture
A widely publicized statistic showing that charter schools do a poor job of retaining their special education students was based on incomplete data, the city's Independent Budget Office has admitted.
January 28, 2013
State aid cuts would cost city 2,500 teachers, Bloomberg says
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Page, his budget director, testified in Albany today about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget, which would penalize the city again for not adopting new teacher evaluations. ALBANY — New York City would have to cut 2,500 teaching positions over the next two years under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget plans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told lawmakers this morning. Appearing at a hearing about Cuomo's budget proposal, Bloomberg focused on the school aid that would be withheld because the city and teachers union have not agreed on new teacher evaluations. The city already lost out on $240 million in state aid this year as a consequence of missing a Jan. 17 deadline that was written into law and could lose another $224 million next year if Cuomo goes through with his plan to tie school aid to evaluations again. The cost of that penalty would be severe, Bloomberg told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, forcing cuts to city schools' spending on personnel and programming. Bloomberg blamed the UFT, again, for the city's shortfall and also criticized the State Education Department, which is threatening to penalize the city further by withholding some resources for high-need students. But during a fierce exchange with Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who chairs the education committee, the blame also landed briefly on Bloomberg himself. Nolan pointed out that Bloomberg had supported the law that paved the way for the union and the city to reach a deal on evaluations last February. She recited Bloomberg's comments at the time the law was passed (“This is a win-win-win for the kids and for the adults”). "Don't you feel some responsibility for this disaster?" she asked. "And it is a disaster."
October 2, 2012
Survivorship Bias And The Hidden Costs Of Backfill
Out of 90 charter schools that administered the New York State standardized tests in both 2011 and 2012, Harlem Link had the eighth-highest average increase in English language arts and math scores. This score improvement was amazing, fantastic, even inspiring. And misleading — because of a small, relatively unknown factor called "survivorship bias." Survivorship bias is a statistical term for an indication that there is some hidden factor that excludes certain members of a data set over time — namely, part of a sample that was there at the beginning is no longer there at the end and does not count in the final analysis. The smaller subset of those who “survive” over time might be better off than the original whole group simply because of who stayed and who left, not any value added over time. Simply put, every year, at every school, some students leave, and their departure changes the profile of who takes the test from year to year. Sometimes high-scoring students depart. At other times, low-scoring students depart. If schools continuously enroll new students (and some don’t), the same factor impacts the student population for these incoming students. At the end of this piece I chart a hypothetical situation in which survivorship bias shows how a school can appear to improve while not actually adding any value simply by not adding new students year after year. In large systems, there is so much mobility that these student profiles tend to cancel each other out because of scale. For example, the student population appears relatively stable from year to year in the third grade in Community School District 3, where 1,342 students in 30 schools took the state English Language Arts exam in 2012. But in small student populations like the one at Harlem Link, where only 52 third-grade students took the 2012 exam, a few students entering or leaving the school with certain test scores can make a big difference. When the state department of education releases test scores each year, however, it does not provide this or any other contextual background information alongside the scores. I believe that this process penalizes, in the public eye, schools that continue to enroll students to replace those that depart.
September 4, 2012
A teacher who's starting at a new school this week explains why
Like educators across the city, Mark Anderson is back in the classroom today. But it’s not the one he left in June. Anderson chose…
May 2, 2012
No teacher attrition in next year's city budget, insiders say
The executive budget Mayor Bloomberg will unveil tomorrow won't call for any reduction in the size of the city's teaching corps, according to sources at the City Council. In each of the last two years, the city has narrowly avoided teacher layoffs but has still seen the number of teaching positions drop because of attrition, last year by 1,800 spots. For next year, a hotly debated line in the mayor's preliminary budget called for the city to leave about many teaching spots unfilled. The city pegged the reduction at about 1,100 positions, but City Council members said the real shortfall would have cost 2,500 jobs. Council members continued to be distressed about the proposal even after Chancellor Dennis Walcott assured them during a hearing in March that the final budget would find funds to close the gap and make attrition unnecessary. “It’s my goal and our hope to make sure that the budget stay flat without having any cuts to our schools,” Walcott said at the time. “We’re going to work very hard within the system that any type of absorptions be done centrally.”
March 27, 2012
Walcott: Projected $64 million cut to schools only temporary
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott repeated a promise not to touch principals' budgets next year, saying that a proposed cut in school funding that would cost the city more than 1,100 teaching positions would likely disappear once the city finalizes its budget later this spring. Of the 5,000 teachers who typically leave the system each year, the preliminary 2013 budget projects that only about 4,000 would be replaced, which would save about $64 million, according to the city's preliminary budget . But Walcott said that funding would likely be restored in time for the final budget and that principals would be able to hire for any vacated positions. City Council members pestered Walcott about that and much more at a hearing this afternoon on the agency’s $19.6 billion budget, a 1 percent increase that won't cover the added expenses the department expects. While last year’s hearings focused almost solely on opposition to a proposal to layoff thousands of teachers, the concerns raised by elected officials today spanned a range of the city's education policies, including increased class sizes, the small schools initiative, spending on technology and contracts, and Medicaid collection. But they reserved most of their early criticism on the $64 million cut in areas that directly fund schools. The decreased sum represents a headcount reduction of 1,117 teacher positions, according to the city's projections. “Year after year the DOE has made cuts to school budgets,” said Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson. “How are schools supposed to make do next year given the loss of funding proposed in the budget?”
May 6, 2011
Mayor Bloomberg's budget preserves cut of 6,100 teaching jobs
Bloomberg announced his budget today, which continues to propose thousands of teacher layoffs. Mayor Bloomberg reaffirmed his plans to cut 6,000 teaching jobs in his budget address today and said that even if the state restores some funding, he will not promise use it to avoid teacher layoffs. The budget for 2012 includes 4,100 teacher layoffs and the loss of an additional 2,000 teaching jobs through attrition. These job losses would amount to an eight percent decrease in the size of the teaching force — from 75,000 teachers down to about 69,000. If the layoffs become a reality — threats in the last two years never bore fruit — it will be the first time since the 1970s that the city has laid off public school teachers. City officials have previously estimated that these layoffs will save the city roughly $300 million. In his budget presentation today, the mayor blamed cuts to school spending from the city and state for the impending layoffs. In 2002, the city and state each covered roughly 50 percent of the city's education costs. Next fiscal year, the state will contribute 39 percent and the city will fund the remainder. This year, the city has also lost $850 million in federal stimulus funding for schools.
April 28, 2009
Principals will learn about a bleak financial situation tomorrow
School principals and reporters will be briefed on the Department of Education's financial situation tomorrow — and the outlook is likely to include "huge, gigantic cuts," according to a City Council source. The briefing will come one day before Mayor Bloomberg is scheduled to release his 2010 budget proposal. An April 8 memo from the city's budget director asked the DOE to cut 1.5 percent from its proposed operating budget through layoffs or attrition. The cuts will come on top of $251 million that the mayor proposed slashing from the DOE when he first released a 2010 budget plan, in January. The DOE has already revised its budget down $1.9 billion in the last year, down over 10 percent. This new 1.5 percent cut would chop off about $260 million more. The city cuts will be much more manageable thanks to an influx of federal stimulus dollars to the city schools. But a City Council source said that, as currently proposed, they will still be dramatic. "There's huge, gigantic cuts proposed in the city's school budget, and unless there's some miraculous turnaround in the economic forecast, I don't think anyone expects an increase in city funds going to schools," the source said.
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