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Future of Work
Seeking answers to the big question: Are students ready to thrive after graduation?
October 23, 2013
Urban Youth Collaborative reiterates college-readiness recommendations
A top priority for the next mayor must be to boost the “abysmal” college-readiness rates among black and Hispanic students, according to a citywide student group that rallied outside City Hall Tuesday. The Urban Youth Collaborative released a policy paper during the rally that reiterates the group’s previous recommendations for how to close that college-readiness gap. Just over 11 percent of black students and 12 percent of Hispanic students were prepared for college when they graduated high school last year, according to the state’s metric, which is based on the percentage of students who graduate in four years with a 75 on their English Regents exam and an 80 on their math exam. In contrast, about 39 percent of white students and almost 53 percent of Asian students met those benchmarks.
June 17, 2013
Better news for city on college readiness, but wide gap remains
Chart Like the other large school districts in the state, New York City saw its graduation rate decline last year. But it bucked the trend when it came to graduates' preparedness for college, posting an increase where the other districts did not.
April 1, 2013
An Academic Probation Officer’s Peril And Promise
I remember so vividly the anticipation of getting my grades each term in the mail, tearing off the perforations to reveal whether or not my all-nighters were worth it. Now, even though grades are available in an instant and perforated paper is a thing of the past, I have that same anxiety for my students each time they send me their grades online.
January 28, 2013
One in 1.1 million: After homelessness, an Ivy League admission
Walid Rahman, a senior at Townsend Harris High School, was recently admitted to Columbia University. His family has struggled with poverty, illness, and homelessness. Walid Rahman was homeless from the time he was four until he was 10. He moved from couch to couch as his family struggled to earn a living while caring for Walid’s terminally ill father. But Walid, an 18 year-old senior at Townsend Harris High School in Queens, refused to let any of that stop him. He is determined to find a cure to beat his father’s illness. The first step for him is getting out of poverty and getting into a top college. Even though there are over 70,000 high school seniors across the country this year who are like Walid — low-income and qualified to attend a top college — they make up only 3 percent of the population at elite colleges and universities. The odds were stacked against him. Hard Beginnings Despite the Rahmans’ numerous hardships, the family considers their circumstances a blessing from God. The Rahmans, originally from Bangladesh, feared for their lives during Walid’s childhood. A criminal blackmailed the family, leaving them the choice to give up their business and lose everything or have Walid kidnapped. For Mr. Rahman, the choice was obvious. His family believed they could rebuild their lives in the United States. They entered the visa lottery and were chosen. When the family arrived in America, they had nothing.
December 20, 2012
Liu says city should pay CUNY tuition for top high school grads
Comptroller John Liu visited UFT headquarters after being elected in 2009. Today, Liu proposed new education and economic policies, including the "community schools" model the UFT favors. The city should ease the path to college for top high school students by promising them free tuition at city colleges, Comptroller John Liu said today in a "State of the City" speech, his second in 2012. In the speech, Liu put forth a slate of policy proposals, including several focused on education, that he said would enhance the city's economic future. Liu is a likely mayoral candidate, but as comptroller his job is to safeguard the city's financial prospects. "The offer of free tuition would help motivate students and elevate CUNY, one of our city’s most valuable gems, to the level of a competitive prize," Liu said, according to his prepared remarks. "It would also be a life-saver for many working families who are struggling to send their kids to college." Liu did not explain how the city could fund the initiative, but it would not cost much. With tuition set at $5,400 a year, even if every student in the top 10 percent of each graduating class enrolled and would not ordinarily receive financial aid — an unlikely scenario — paying their way would cost less than $12 million a year. Other proposals Liu made today would cost the city a lot more.
December 18, 2012
In Manhattan conference room, students get networking workout
College and career readiness isn't just about what students know — it's about whom they know, too. That's the philosophy behind the Opportunity Network, a 10-year-old nonprofit organization that aims to develop professional skills in students who might be the first in their family to attend college. Last Wednesday, that development came in the form of two-minute conversations with an array of young professionals during an event that the organization bills as "speed networking." (Watch part of the event in the video above.)
November 30, 2012
Evaluating homegrown courses, city deems some 'college-prep'
Students at Central Park East High School, one of several now receiving city credit for college-level courses its teachers developed. At Harry S. Truman High School, juniors in an honors English class arrange their desks in concentric circles to discuss Marxist and feminist theory in the American literary canon. At Central Park East High School, students taking the Mt. Sinai Careers course develop research projects on the health sciences while interning in hospital departments like pediatrics, orthopedics, and Mt. Sinai's morgue. And at East Side Community School, seniors compare ancient Greek tragedies. The courses are as challenging as any Advanced Placement class, their teachers say: To pass, students must demonstrate not only deep knowledge but also the kind of critical thinking required for success in college. But last year, when the Department of Education moved toward giving high schools credit in their annual letter grade for exposing students to college-level work, the courses did not count. This year, they are among 52 courses in city high schools to get the department's "college and career preparatory" stamp of approval, meaning that students who pass them typically stay in college after many ill-prepared students drop out.
November 26, 2012
For first time, college readiness factors into high school grades
When the Department of Education releases a new set of letter grades for high schools today, some schools could see their scores change substantially. That's because the latest progress reports, which the city uses in part to decide which schools to close, are the first to incorporate data about how well schools have prepared graduates for college. The shifting metrics reflect the department's growing recognition that a high school diploma does not guarantee college success. The new data look at the percentage of students who passed college-level exams or courses; met City University of New York proficiency standards; or entered college, the military, or a work training program, and together they make up 10 percent of each school's score. Most of the information appeared on last year's progress reports but did not factor into schools' grades. For the most part, the new data points do not work in schools' favor. For the last two years, the city has boasted a four-year graduation rate over 60 percent. But city and state assessments of students' college-readiness during the same period found that only about a quarter of students were ready for college four years after entering high school. The wide discrepancy means that the new metrics could easily depress some schools' overall scores, particularly because the department reduced the weight on graduation rates and credit accumulation to free up the points.
November 12, 2012
Traversing The State To Support New College Students
As a college counselor with Bottom Line, I visit my college students on campus monthly to meet with them one-on-one. Sometimes we problem-solve (think "I don't have my books!" or "My bill is incorrect!"); sometimes we prepare for the future (think “What classes should I take?” or “Can you help me edit my resume?”); and sometimes I'm just a familiar face from home with a handful of Jolly Ranchers, ready to listen.
October 25, 2012
In 90 minutes, Tisch took on readiness gap, test objectors, TFA
Learning Matters' John Merrow and New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch (Photo: Nancy Adler) The city's very low college and career readiness rate for black and Hispanic students is a statistic usually cited by advocates seeking to discredit the Bloomberg administration's education record. But when asked to measure the true value of a high school diploma in New York City Wednesday night by education reporter John Merrow, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch turned to the familiar statistic to convey her concerns. "That, to me, is tragic," Tisch said, after rattling off the numbers. Merrow pressed her to account for the disparity between the city's graduation rate, which is over 60 percent, and its low college-readiness rates. "Why isn't this fraud?" he asked. "I didn't say it wasn't," Tisch said. The exchange was part of a 90-minute public dialogue in which Tisch also criticized families who opt out of state tests, set firm limits about the city's request to certify teachers, and proclaimed that the city and its teachers union would reach a teacher evaluation deal before Gov. Andrew Cuomo's mid-January deadline.
October 11, 2012
Breaking Stereotypes, From The Bronx To Buffalo State
Three days. It only took three days for the perception of me at Buffalo State to go from “the innocent girl” to “the girl with the rough upbringing.” All I had to do was answer one simple question, “where are you from?” As soon as I answered “the Bronx,” gasps and wide eyes filled the room.
October 1, 2012
New progress reports shift some weight from scores to grades
For the first time since introducing school progress reports in 2007, the Department of Education has reduced the weight of state test scores in determining middle schools' scores on their state test scores. The change is slight, allocating just 5 percent of the calculation toward the grades schools hand out, but it reflects a significant shift within the Department of Education. After years of saying that the state's current tests are not the ideal measure of students' abilities, the department is — to a limited extent — putting its metrics where its mouth is. Until now, 85 percent of elementary and middle schools' scores have come from crunching the scores in different ways. But on the 2011-2012 progress reports, which are coming out today, that proportion has dropped slightly for middle schools, to 80 percent. The difference will be made up by schools' course passage rates in the core subjects of English, math, science, and social studies. The change, which the department promised a year ago, makes year-to-year progress report score comparisons hard to make yet is unlikely to dramatically alter schools' scores on its own. Still, it signals that the city is projecting onto middle schools growing concerns about the mismatch between how city students perform on some high-stakes accountability metrics and how well prepared they are to take on more challenging work.
July 31, 2012
Study: Students who slip before they succeed still at risk later on
A chart from the report showing how students with very different high school trajectories can end up in the same place academically—at least on paper. Not all high school graduates are created equally: Some had to make up ground after falling behind along the path to graduation day. Identifying those future graduates early could be key to getting them to succeed in college later, according to a new report. The report, authored by researchers with the education nonprofit New Visions for Public Schools, tracked students in 75 New Visions-supported city schools through high school and into college. The report finds that students who graduate with a Regents diploma after years of struggling are much less likely to succeed in college than those students who have a history of good performance. Schools tend to pay special attention to students with obvious obstacles to overcome, such as a disability or status as an English language learner. But students who have a couple of bad semesters in tenth grade and then earn passing grades in their junior year don't always register as being "at risk" to their schools, the report concludes. The report advocates for schools to expand the definition of an "at-risk" student to include any student who has experienced ups and downs—which are marked and reviewed according to a metric system detailed in the study that New Visions schools will continue to use. It also argues that school districts like New York City are pushing schools in this direction by emphasizing schools' graduation rate as the main benchmark of success. "We're trying to take the conversation and say, every kid, whether high or low performing, is vulnerable but in a different way," said Susan Fairchild, one of the report's lead authors. "Our accountability structures don't necessarily support schools. We're moving in those direction, but our systems are really based on accumulation, not flow, not how kids actually come into the system."
July 23, 2012
Annual survey reflects sanguine views of school performance
A slide from the Department of Education's presentation of this year's Learning Environment Survey results shows teachers' responses to questions about their evaluations. Results of the city's annual survey of what parents, students and teachers think about their schools paints a much rosier picture than data on school performance indicate. It also offers a rosier picture of teachers' views of their evaluation system than both city and union officials have painted in the past. This year, 94 percent of parents said they were "satisfied" with their children's education, and 95 percent of students said they have to "work hard to get good grades" — figures city officials touted as a sign that the schools are becoming more rigorous. Answering a new question, 94 percent of teachers said their school "does a good job supporting students who aspire to go to 2- or 4-year colleges." Those responses suggest that city parents, students, and teachers remain sanguine about their schools even as the city and state have mounted a concerted effort to raise expectations. The Learning Environment Survey results, which the city published today, come on the heels of annual state test scores that showed for the second straight year that fewer than half of the city's third through eighth graders are reading at grade level. And while the city's "college-readiness" rate inched up since it was first announced last year, only about a quarter of students meet the city's and state's standards. The survey results do signal that some schools are beginning to ask more of their students. Since 2009, the proportion of high school students who say they are receiving "helpful" college and career counseling has risen from 74 to 82 percent. And while the number of students reporting sophisticated research or essay assignments barely budged, the number who said they had been asked to "complete an essay or project where [they] had to use evidence to defend [their] own opinion or ideas" three or more times increased sharply, from 62 percent in 2011 to 67 percent this year.
June 21, 2012
Schools picked to pioneer college prep program for young men
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott speaks at And thean Expanded Success Initiative announcement. And then there were 40. Earlier this year the Department of Education named 81 schools that could be eligible to lead one of the most significant educational programs in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative. Last month, 57 schools submitted proposals for the pot of funds attached to the program, called the Expanded Success Initiative. The funds would go toward programs to improve the college readiness rates of male students. The 40 schools that made the cut were named today. They will receive $250,000 each to pioneer new college-readiness strategies. Monitors will evaluate the progress the schools make over the course of the coming year and provide feedback for what may eventually become citywide policies. The schools were selected because they have already made strides serving youth of color, but they are still struggling to meet the city's new college readiness metrics, officials said. To be eligible, schools were required to have a four-year graduation rate above 65 percent, to have received an A or B on their most recent progress reports, and to have student bodies comprised of at least 35 percent are black or Latino males and 60 percent are qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. "You have done well in your high school graduation rate, but now we've redefined the message, along with the state," Chancellor Dennis Walcott told an audience of school leaders and students at an event today welcoming schools to the initiative. "It's no longer just about high school graduation, it's about college and career readiness, making sure all of our students can attain that high goal."
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