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December 8, 2015
After criticism, city publishes Renewal goals, arguing they top state targets
The city released its goals for the 94 struggling schools in its “Renewal” program Monday, along with data showing the goals exceed some state targets.
November 18, 2014
Phase-out of ARIS follows years of educator frustrations
The imminent phase-out of ARIS, the student data management system, elicited cheers from educators and parents who found the system never quite delivered on its promise.
December 19, 2013
More lawmakers call for SED to halt data-sharing plans
The State Education Department is facing increased pressure to curb its student data-sharing plans. Last week, Republican Senator John Flanagan introduced a bill to address looming concerns around the plan's data privacy and security. He also called for the state to halt the initiative, which is scheduled to begin next month, for at least a year. Now, a group of Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan, are raising their own red flags. Like Flanagan, they want the state to halt the plan, but they are also suggesting that they might not ever want to see it start up again. The controversy is over an initiative funded in part by federal Race to the Top grants designed to help districts use information about an individual student's personal and academic history to create more individualized lesson plans and inform a teacher's instruction. Some data elements being collected include test scores, report card grades, information about special needs, attendance records and disciplinary records.
May 30, 2013
In a new report, the IBO updates a treasure trove of schools data
This chart, showing that New York City teachers are staying longer in their schools and in the system, is one of dozens in the Independent Budget Office’s new “Public School Indicators” report. For the second time since becoming the Department of Education’s official data monitor, the city’s Independent Budget Office has released a mountain of numbers. The latest version of the IBO's Public School Indicators" report compiles data about student demographics, space-sharing arrangements, budget allocations, principal and teacher characteristics, and student performance. While much of the data has appeared elsewhere, the new report collects multiple datasets in one place. Not much has changed dramatically since the IBO's first indicators report, released in September 2011. But the new version of the report relies on data that the IBO says was more accurate than the data it was given in 2011 and updates the facts and figures to include data from the 2011-2012 school year. The new version also includes information for the first time about graduates of one of the city's newest principal training programs.
July 18, 2012
Seven takeaways from a closer look at the state test scores
The state released the results of this year's third through eighth grade tests yesterday, and officials from City Hall to the charter sector lept to celebrate students' gains. Some changes were the focal point of the Department of Education's Tuesday afternoon press conference—like the drop among English Language Learners and the boosts charter schools saw. But they avoided nuances in the results for the city's new schools, which have been at the center of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education reform policies. Beyond first impressions, here are seven interesting takeaways we parsed from the trove of data: Like last year, English Language Learners took a step back. Students who are identified as English Language Learners improved slightly in math, but took another step back from the statistical gains they made on the literacy test (ELA) earlier in the decade, before the state made the exams tougher in 2010. While just under half of the city’s non-ELL students met the state’s ELA standards, just 11.6 percent of ELL students did so. But in math, the percentage of ELL students scoring proficient rose by 2.5 points, to 37 percent. But students in other categories that typically struggle showed improvements. The percentage of students with disabilities who are proficient in math and literacy went up again this year, to 30.2 percent in math and 15.8 percent in English. And although Black and Hispanic students are still lagging behind their white peers by close to thirty percentage points in literacy and math, they also saw small bumps in both subjects. Officials said that new initiatives targeting struggling students, particularly students of color, contributed to the gains.
February 24, 2012
City releases Teacher Data Reports — and a slew of caveats
When the Department of Education's embargo of Teacher Data Reports details lifted at noon today, news organizations across the city rushed to make the data available. The Teacher Data Reports are “value-added” assessments of teachers’ effectiveness that were produced from 2008 to 2010 for reading and math teachers in grades 3 to 8. This morning, department officials including Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky met with reporters to offer caution about how the data reports should be used. They emphasized the reports' wide margins of error — 35 percentage points for math teachers and 53 percentage points for reading teachers, on average — and that the reports reflect only a small portion of teachers' work. "We would never advise anyone — parent, reporter, principal, teacher — to draw a conclusion based on this score alone," Polakow-Suransky said. Most of the news organizations that filed Freedom of Information Law requests for the ratings plan to publish them in searchable or streamlined databases, with the teachers' names attached. GothamSchools does not plan to publish the data with teachers' names or identifying characteristics included because of concerns about the data's reliability. At least two other news organizations that cover education are also not publishing the data: the local affiliate of Fox News, according to a representative of Fox, and the nonprofit school information website Insideschools. Department officials are asking schools not to release the reports to parents. They issued a guide today advising principals about how to handle parents who demand that their child be removed from the class of a teacher rated ineffective.
February 1, 2012
High dropout rate, open questions at schools that closed in 2011
Of nearly 600 students who were enrolled in four high schools that closed their doors last year, less than half graduated and at least 22 percent left the school system without a diploma. The information is contained in trove of data the Department of Education released today, in accordance with a recent City Council mandate, about the students who remained in 15 schools during their final year of operation last year. In addition to the four high schools, the city closed six middle schools, three elementary schools, and two primary schools last year. Together, those schools enrolled 1,994 students, ranging from just 54 at a Manhattan middle school to 358 at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn. The council imposed the reporting requirement amid criticism that students affected by school closures drop out at a disproportionately higher rate as a result. At the high schools that closed last year, the dropout rate was indeed high, at 22.1 percent. A state audit last year put the city's dropout rate at 10 percent. But a high dropout rate could be expected — after all, the remaining students were those who had straggled at some of the lowest-performing schools in the city and had stayed there after other students had sought transfer to other schools. The students might well have dropped out even if their school stayed open. More interesting, some say, are questions the data do not answer.
November 1, 2011
For first time, DOE details school safety, suspension numbers
Principals and superintendents suspended a disproportionally high number of black and special needs students last year, according to data the Department of Education released today to comply with a new law. Of the 73,441 suspensions in the 2010-2011 school year, more than 50 percent were black and thirty percent had individualized education plans, according to the data. In contrast, black students make up 33 percent of city enrollment and students requiring special education services make up 17 percent. "These are outrageous numbers," said Udi Ofer, Advocacy Director for New York Civil Liberties Union, a group that has closely followed suspension data for more than a decade. "It shows a policy and practice that has a grossly disproportionate impact on black and special needs children." It is the first time that the DOE is providing disaggregated data about student suspensions to the public under the Student Safety Act, which City Council passed last year after years of lobbying by NYCLU and other advocacy groups. In previous years, the DOE has only been required to release overall suspensions under state law.
September 14, 2011
A treasure trove of information on schools courtesy of the IBO
Two years after becoming the Department of Education's official data monitor, the city's Independent Budget Office has finished crunching a mountain of numbers. The results, which include revelations about space-sharing arrangements, budget allocations, principal and teacher demographics, and student performance, are compiled in a comprehensive report released today. The IBO received the data dump after state legislators designated the office as a DOE watchdog scrutinizing student achievement and financial information in the 2009 law reauthorizing mayoral control. Since then, the IBO's education unit has grown to eight people from "basically one," according to communications director Doug Turetsky. Raymond Damonico, the IBO's director of education research, supervised the report's creation. The IBO also today launched a website that allows users to pull up the data for any city school. (Charter schools are not included in the analysis.) Among the many highlights: Poor students at relatively affluent schools outperformed relatively affluent students at schools with many poor students. As of 2009-2010, school buildings housing co-locations were less crowded overall than buildings housing a single school.
August 10, 2011
A stab at a cleaner, more user-friendly look at city test score data
Click on the image to go straight to the new data below. When the state and city education officials released the 2010-2011 ELA and Math test data on Monday, they didn't make it easy for interested New Yorkers to make sense of the scores. One spreadsheet, released by the city Department of Education, left off school names and corresponded results only by school code. It also excluded public charter schools entirely. The state's spreadsheet included names, but listed every other public school in New York State as well. There was also no easy way to compare schools to one another. The city included a comparison against previous years' scores, but the file didn't allow users to compare change over time among schools. The state's data didn't include any previous scores at all. Not surprisingly, many of our readers emailed us to express their frustration over the scattered and unwieldy data. When I asked a DOE spokesman Matthew Mittenthal about it, he told me that grouping the data into school-by-school comparisons wasn't a priority when publishing the information. "We would never use test scores alone for accountability purposes, so we don’t actively encourage people to compare one school to another on that basis," Mittenthal wrote in an email. We spent the past couple of days playing with the spreadsheets so that it's easier and more intuitive. First, we corresponded codes used by the DOE to actual school names (for example, 15K447 = The Math & Science Exploratory School). Then, we stripped non-essential data and added last year's test results as a column header. Finally, we filtered the schools by performance so the best-scoring are at the top.
September 30, 2010
Highlights and lowlights from the 2010 school report cards
The Department of Education official charged with creating schools' progress reports said today that parents should look beyond the capitalized, bold-faced grades on the reports and analyze the schools' data. "We want parents to get more involved at looking at all the information behind the overall grade," said Deputy Chancellor for Accountability Shael Suransky. He also said that this year's reports for elementary and middle schools are the "most accurate" the city has ever produced. As parents and principals figure out what to make of the new ratings, here are some highlights culled from the data: Because the DOE gave schools extra credit if they were especially successful with special education students and students who aren't fluent in English, two schools scored over 100 points. Chancellor Klein visited one of the schools — P.S. 172 Beacon School in Sunset Park — as part of his back-to-school tour. The other school, P.S. 32 Belmont in the Bronx, received more extra credit points (15 in total) than any other school in the city. Last year, nearly 50 schools got more than 100 points.
September 2, 2010
Teacher excess pool persists as start of school approaches
Rhetoric around the city's excessed teachers has cooled off since last year, but the issue hasn't disappeared. More than 1,700 teachers remain on the city's payroll without full-time teaching positions, officials said today. Teachers enter the so-called Absent Teacher Reserve pool when they lose their jobs to budget cuts or school closures. At the ATR pool's height this summer, nearly 3,000 teachers were in excess. Just over 40 percent of those teachers either found jobs, retired, resigned or went on leave, leaving 1,779 still without positions. That's roughly the same number who lacked teaching jobs at this time last year. DOE spokeswoman Ann Forte said that there are currently just over 1,200 vacancies in the city's schools, around 100 fewer open positions than there were just after the start of school last year. Principals are currently only allowed to hire teachers already on the city's payroll, except in certain areas like special education, science and some foreign languages. Earlier this summer, the city also relaxed its hiring restrictions for schools in the Bronx that were having trouble filling their open positions.
August 4, 2010
The top and bottom 15 elementary schools by test scores
When test scores are released, individual schools often get lost in the big picture. To pull some out of the heap, I've created a way to look at each school's results in a broad stroke: For every school in the city, I averaged the percentage of students who scored proficient across all the tested grade levels. The following lists rank the highest- and lowest-scoring elementary schools in the city overall. It includes no charter schools and no screened schools. I did include schools with gifted and talented programs; they are denoted with a * next to their name. Middle schools will come tomorrow. (And Kim Gittleson has done a similar analysis of charter schools; check it out.) UPDATE: Three of these lists have been revised to add four schools missing from our lists due to an Excel error. The four added schools are: PS/IS 116 Wiliam C. Hughley, with 23.6% average proficiency on math, should have been on the math low-scoring list. P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence, with 99.6% average proficiency on math, should have been on the math high-scoring list. P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence, with 95.1% average proficiency on reading, should have been on that high-scoring list. P.S. 158 Bayard Taylor, with 90.5% average proficiency on reading, should have been on that high-scoring list. Schools that would have been bumped off the lists because of these additions have been kept on.
March 19, 2010
Kindergarten gifted classes more diverse than last year, city says
The percentage of minority students in the city's gifted and talented kindergarten classes increased this school year from last, according to data the Department of Education released today. But while the percentages of Hispanic, Asian and multi-racial students all increased, the ratio of black students to the whole class declined by just over one percentage point.
April 29, 2009
In KIPP annual report, school performance data is laid bare
Test results from Harlem's KIPP STAR College Prep Charter School, where students on average outperformed their district but not always the state. Graph from 2008…
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