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While a passing score on the state Regents exams is 65, the city determined that students needed to score at least a 75 on the English Regents exam and an 80 on the math Regents exam to avoid having to take remedial courses at city colleges.
This week's release of the 2011 high school graduation rate showed that it has flattened after six years of growth. Although the mayor says an increased number of graduates are considered college-ready, the number falls far short of expectations.
On June 21, the Center for New York City Affairs and Insideschools.org will present a panel discussion, moderated by Meredith Kolodner: Creating College Ready Communities: Preparing NYC's Precarious New Generation of College Students. Among the findings in a report to be presented about the city's college readiness efforts, is that many New York City public school graduates drop out of college, discouraged that they aren't able to do the work. On June 28, Insideschools' Clara Hemphill will moderate Center event: Beyond Test Scores: Imagining New Ways to Measure NYC's High Schools.
This month high school students are taking Regents exams. We'd like to know: do you think Regents' scores accurately predict which graduates are ready to do college work? Take our poll!
I read Alan Schwartz's frightening front page New York Times piece on the kind of Sunday night when I could have used a performance boost myself – something I'm sure lots of working parents feel in the waning weekend hours.
Oh, for a rush of adrenaline to finish unwanted chores in full efficiency mode, instead of a lazy desire to watch the Mad Men season finale curled up with a glass of wine.
Yet here it was, nearly midnight, and I still had stories to edit, laundry to fold, school lunches to make and those endless permission slips and end-of-the-year forms to fill out.
I'll be giving advice to 7th grade parents in Queens at a free workshop on "how to choose a high school" sponsored by City Councilman Mark Weprin. The date is Wednesday, June 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. The address is Middle School 74Q, 61-15 Oceania Street, Bayside.
Insideschools reporters Laura Zingmond and Gail Robinson--who have visited numerous high schools in Queens--will be on hand to answer your questions. We'll tell you about zoned high schools, specialized schools like Bronx High School of Science and LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, selective schools like Townsend Harris, as well as some up-and-coming schools you may not have heard of. We'll also give tips on how to weigh your options. Do you want a large or small school? A school that's close to home or far awav? We'll help you decide what's best for your child.
For questions, contact Council Member Mark Weprin’s office at (718) 468-0137.
Can't come? Take a look at our YouTube videos on how to apply to high school.
While many boys his age were playing video games or sports, a 14-year-old from Bangladesh spent every Saturday afternoon since last summer studying math and English at Khan’s Tutorial, a test preparation center in Jamaica, Queens.
Joydeep Baidya, an 8th grader in Intermediate School 238 in Jamaica, said he had no regrets, when he found out in late March that he scored 592 out of a possible 800 on the New York City Specialized High School Admissions Test, high enough to gain admission into Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s top public high schools.
“For the period leading to the test, the priority was not fun,” said Baidya, who moved to New York just three years ago. “It was to pass the test.”
Baidya is one of the 161 students at Khan’s Tutorial this year who secured a spot in the much-coveted specialized high schools in New York City. The majority of the 200 students who registered at Khan to prep for this year’s test were born in Bangladesh or are children of Bangladeshi parents. Just like their Chinese and Korean counterparts, Bangladeshi families put great emphasis on education and testing is deeply rooted in their culture. The students are quietly becoming sought after by test prep centers in Queens and beyond.
According to Ivan Khan, Chief Operating Officer of Khan’s Tutorial, the test prep center has been sending more than 100 students to the specialized high school every year since 2005. About 30,000 8th and 9th graders take the test every October, and roughly 5,400 are offered admission into one of the eight elite schools, including Stuyvesant, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School. Khan said the enrollment in his center has gone up 20 percent this year and he had opened two new branches just within last two years.
In recent years, Asians have made up the majority in the city’s specialized high schools. Stuyvesant’s 3,300 students in grades 9 to 12 are 72 percent Asian, 24 percent white, 2.4 percent Hispanic and 1.2 percent black. Although the majority of the Asian students are either Chinese or Korean, the Bangladeshis are making impressive progress.
“When I went to Bronx Science, there were maybe six or seven Bangladeshi students per grade,” said Khan, class of 1999. According to one of his former students, Ishraq Chowdhury, class of 2012 at Bronx Science, about 13 to 15 percent of the school’s total population of about 3,000 students are of Bangladeshi descent. The school did not return requests to confirm the numbers.
One obvious reason is the rapid growth of immigrants from Bangladesh. According to census statistics, the number of Bangladeshi immigrants has grown more than10 times in the last two decades, from about 5,000 in 1990 to close to 60,000 in 2010. New York City is their number one destination.
Nazli Kibria, a professor of sociology at Boston University who studies the Bangladeshi diaspora in the U.S., said most Bangladeshi immigrants left their country to improve ther economic and educational opportunities.
“It is a driving force,” said Kibria. “The emphasis on education gives meaning to their immigration to this country.”
The London-born Khan spent a year and a half of his youth in Bangladesh. He said performing well in school is a source of pride and joy for Bangladeshi families.
And the emphasis on education cuts across class lines. According to Khan, many parents who send their children to his test prep center are blue-collar workers, ranging from cab drivers and restaurant workers to shopkeepers.
“But the drive to help their children get into one of the most competitive schools is just as strong as middle-class parents,” said Khan.
Among the Bangladeshi-run test prep centers, Khan’s Tutorial is the largest and most established. Founded in Jackson Heights in 1994 by Khan’s father, a former public school math teacher and assistant principal, it now operates in six locations in New York City and one in Long Island. The newest location in Astoria opened last year. It has attracted many non-Bangladeshi students, including Eastern Europeans and Middle Easterners. In addition to the program for specialized high schools, Khan’s also offers prep programs for the SAT, Regents Exams, Advanced Placement courses, and summer programs for kindergartners through sixth graders.
“We advertise through the Bangladeshi satellite television that goes out to the rest of the country,” said Khan, referring to Bengali-language satellite channels made available through the Dish Network in the U.S. “Now we even get requests from California. But we want to maintain the quality so we have no plans to expand outside of New York.”
On a recent Sunday afternoon, dozens of students were getting ready for the upcoming Regents Exam in Khan’s modest four-room center located above a Bangladeshi deli and Guyanese restaurant on Hillside Avenue in a commercial section of Jamaica. Many of the 17 seventh graders in Roman Patwary’s math class had their hands up, eager to solve an algebra problem on the blackboard. In the room next door, students of various ages worked with tutors in small groups on English and math exercises. Many instructors and tutors in the prep center are former Khan’s students who went to specialized high schools themselves.
Instructors say their center prepares students “for a future of standardized tests.” Niloy Iqbal, a premed student at New York University who has been teaching at Khan’s since 2009, ticked off all the exams students need to enter professional schools in medicine, law and pharmacology.
Meanwhile, Iqbal said the content for the specialized high school test does not go beyond what students learn in school.
“The material is taught in school,” said Iqbal, who attended Khan’s and got into Stuyvesant. “It’s just the way they pose the questions. It’s forcing the students to think critically.”
Khan’s charges a flexible rate of $75 per week for a four-hour session. Students received a reduced rate if they sign up for long-term classes. The center offers a $3,500 package of 52 sessions and 20 workshops that comes with a guarantee of admission into a specialized high school. Khan said about 90 percent of the 80 students who signed up for the package were accepted into one of the eight specialized high schools. Those who are not accepted receive a one-month compensation course to prepare for next year. Meanwhile, Khan’s also offers help for them to get into other selective public schools such as Bard College High School Early College or Midwood High School.
Khan’s Tutorial has begun to advertise in more low-income communities which historically have a low number of students in specialized high schools. In March, Khan’s launched a 12-week SAT prep program in partnership with the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn at about half price.
When asked about options for students whose families cannot afford even the discounted rate, Khan said there is a free city-run program for eligible students. New York Specialized High School Institute, a 22-month test prep program, is available for 6th and 7th graders who receive free lunch, have good grades and attendance records. They also need to have at least average on state math and English exams.
For the ambitious Baidya, getting into Stuyvesant is just the beginning of his academic journey.
“I want to be an architect,” Baidya said, adding that his number one college choice is Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said he plans to take advantage of Stuyvesant’s participation in the Youth in Engineering and Science (YES) Summer Research Program and MIT Summer Research Science Institute.
But his test prep days at Khan’s aren’t likely to end anytime soon. “I heard the SAT is difficult,” said Baidya. “I will probably be back for it.”
Larry Tung, Class of 2012, was a student in LynNell Hancock's Covering Education seminar at Columbia Journalism School. You can read more of the class's stories here.
My daughter is an 8th grader who has been on the honor roll since grammar school. I find it appalling that a child of her intelligence did not get accepted into a program of her choice, because it was decided that the schools were better off being run by lottery. My daughter is made to feel like she doesn't add up and is in some way a failure, because her name was not picked from a computer. There is something wrong when a student who has always received grades averaging 90 is not accepted, yet another student who received a final grade of 55 in Language Arts makes it in and does not even want to attend the school. Please help me to get her in to the school that she so wants to attend. Thank you.
Up in Arms
Dear Up in Arms
Your first job is to help your daughter feel better about not getting into the high school program of her choice. If I were you, I would keep emphasizing that she was not personally rejected—it is the random choice of a faceless computer that is to blame.
I assume that you went through the appeals process and are also keeping your eye on the wait list, if there is one at the school. And I suspect you have already engaged the guidance counselor to help your daughter. Of course, there are other avenues of redress. Send your letter to Bonnie Gross, director of Queens high school enrollment. You can call her as well (212) 374-0291. Be sure to send a copy to Leonard Treretola, Director of High School Enrollment; Robert Sanft, Director of Enrollment; and the Chancellor, Dennis Walcott. All are at 52 Chambers Street, New York, NY, 10007. Some districts have district family advocates who work with high school issues only. Check with your district to see if this is another option.
Meanwhile, try to emphasize the good features of the school in which she was placed. If there are simply none, and your appeal did not work out, use the end of August high school enrollment center (not yet announced where and when) as a last ditch effort. Who knows what spaces may be available then.
Good luck and remind your daughter that as a smart, hardworking person, she will be a success wherever she goes to school.
The refrain “I hate tests,” is nothing new in my household, but it’s usually met with an unsympathetic “that’s life – it’s a necessary evil” shrug.
After last week’s SAT exam debacle that invalidated scores for 199 juniors from some 50 schools who took the May 5 SAT exam at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights -- including my 16-year-old -- I’m having a hard time controlling my own rage.
What really happened that caused the Educational Testing Service to throw out the results of all the exams? We’ve been given little information, while witnessing a parade of finger pointing and of adults protecting adults. There is no evidence -- at least that we’ve heard -- of a cheating scandal.
And yet, there has been very little regard for the overstressed juniors who have had their scores invalidated and their test re-scheduled twice, with scant notice and virtually no explanation.
Of course, I want to know what happened and why, but it’s not individuals I want to signal out for blame.
Really, it’s a systemic culture of testing and their use that must be reconsidered.
New York’s Department of Education recently announced 24 city schools were given new names. About the same time, 5th-graders learned which middle school they were selected to attend. Combined, the two events might result in letters from DOE like this:
Dear scholar (formerly known as “student”),
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to the Albert Einstein Academy of Integrated Sciences in the Rosa Parks Campus, formerly known as Middle School 525. The ivy-covered walls of AEAISRPC eagerly await you, and we feel sure that your class will set high standards for the five or six future classes who will attend this school before its name gets changed again.
Please note that the Albert Einstein Academy is merely one of several institutes of learning (formerly known as “schools”) at the Rosa Parks Campus (formerly known as George Wallace High School for Accounting and Carpentry, and before that as Washington High). Also sharing the building will be:
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Academy of Dramatic Arts (formerly Laurel & Hardy High)
- Fashion School of the Bronx (formerly known as Bronx Fashion School, and briefly known as the J-Lo School for Showing You Got It Girl Fashion Academy before the department invalidated the student-run name-selection contest)
- Middle School 32 (formerly MS 23, but the stone carver was dyslexic)
To avoid confusion and metal detectors, we request that you and other Albert Einstein Academy students enter the building through the Relativity Gate (formerly known as “that door near the gym”) and follow Princeton Hall (formerly “the hall”) to your homeroom (formerly a closet).
We hope you are as excited about attending Albert Einstein Academy as we are about the prospect of providing a high-quality educational experience that integrates the new Common Core Standards within a cohesive metric designed for optimal success (formerly known as “teaching to the test”). We believe students in this pioneering middle school will leave 8th grade fully prepared for success at some of the city’s top high schools, including Global Scholars Academy at Flushing, the College and Careers Exploratory Institute at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Campus, and the Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at Shoreline High School in the Ephraim Zimbalist Jr. Campus at Greenpoint West.
We can’t wait to see you this September. So study hard and keep learning right up until the last day of school on June 22 (formerly June 27).
With the permission of the chancellor, many New York City schools are hastily scheduling no classes on June 25 and 26, two of the final three days of the school year, choosing to convert unused “snow days” into two days of professional development for teachers.
For the schools that choose this option, the last day of school will effectively be Friday, June 22, and not Wednesday, June 27, as originally scheduled. All New York City public schools will be in session on June 27, but educators expect a large majority of parents will not send children to school for that final half-day in the middle of the week.
No school on June 25 and 26 is good news for parents and kids eager for an early start to summer vacation. But it is an unwelcome surprise for working parents whose summer plans don’t begin until June 28, and who must now arrange child care during what they had assumed would be two full school days.
Last week, Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a surprise memo giving all schools the option to use June 25 and 26 for professional development. Extra days added in case of severe weather had gone unused during the mild winter.
Many schools hastily opted for professional development after conducting a vote among teachers. Some schools also are asking parents to vote on the matter, although such votes typically are arranged with little notice. "It's really up to the principals to decide," said Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg, adding she didn't know how many schools had decided to cancel classes.
At one Manhattan elementary school, PS 87 on the Upper West Side, a majority of parents attending the Parents Association’s May meeting reluctantly voted Thursday to endorse no school June 25 and 26. The vote came after several parents complained about what they said was a lack of respect for working parents’ time and plans.
PS 87 parents learned about the matter Wednesday afternoon, hours after the school’s teachers voted to approve taking professional development on those two days. Teachers will use the time to review the state’s new Common Core Standards, which will force curriculum changes at most NYC schools.
PS 87 Principal Monica Berry told parents that report cards would be sent home with kids June 22. “We treat that Friday as the last day anyway,” Berry told parents. Berry noted many summer camps open the following Monday, and school attendance is typically low during the final few days of any school year.
Students who do not attend school on June 27 will be counted absent in official records. That could be a factor in some students’ applications to middle school or high school, as elite schools often consider attendance as a factor in admissions.
My son’s teacher said he might have to go to summer school so he won’t be left back. Does he have to go to summer school? I want to send him to camp.
Good news: No one is going to force you to send your son to summer school – attendance used to be required, but now is voluntary. However, they can keep him back from the next grade if his school work does not warrant promotion. It is all covered in Chancellor’s Regulation A-501. More good news, summer school sessions run until August 8th at the latest. So he can go to the last three weeks of camp – most camps have flexible schedules with campers signing on for a few weeks rather than a whole summer.
It’s the end of teacher appreciation week: the DOE's number two guy, Shael Suransky, taught a class, Chancellor Walcott has been visiting schools, Mayor Bloomberg and countless others shared some #thankateacher love on Twitter, and maybe a few students brought apples to their teachers. We wonder, how can we best show our teachers appreciation all year round?
There are several politically charged answers to the that question that have been highlighted in the news lately. But, what about better pay? It’s no secret that teachers aren’t in it for the money. Teaching can be a highly rewarding job but it is not a career path paved with financial gold. A public school teacher in New York City with a BA can expect to earn $45,530 his first year, according to the UFT’s salary schedule.
Still, that’s almost 10K more than the national average: $36,502, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s most recent survey of education from around the world. But the high cost of living in the Big Apple, eats up much, if not all, of the difference.
After three decades on the job NYC teachers with a Master's degree can make over $100,000. Of course if you luck out and get a job at TEP, The Equity Project Charter School, you'll make $125,000 your first year there. But that's the exception.
Average starting pay for teachers in Finland, Diane Ravitch’s favorite place to learn, is actually lower, $32,692 (of course, the Socialist country has much better government benefits, but that’s a blogpost for another day). Teachers in Japan make $27,995 starting out and $30,522 is first-year pay for teachers in Korea. In Poland, on the other hand, starting salary is $9,186 on average. Luxemborg is one of the best places to teach if you’re after some green, starting teachers there make $51,799. (All these numbers are from OECD.)
With that perspective, maybe New York’s not so bad! Then again, teachers are some of the most valuable members of society, should we pay them more? What do you think is a fair starting salary? Take our poll!