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Insideschools staff

Insideschools staff

Monday, 20 August 2012 10:30

Poll: Should seniors have a full day?

When school starts on Sept. 6, many 12th-graders will have longer schedules than their predecessors because of a newly-enforced city and state rule. We reported last week that some principals will need to hire new teachers to fill out the schedules of hundreds of seniors who, in the past, would have taken only three or four classes needed to graduate. Others are looking to fill those extra hours with credit-earning activities like community service.

What do you think? Should 12th graders who only need a few more credits to graduate attend a full day of school?

Only 55 percent of eligible teachers received tenure this year, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced on Friday. This is a huge shift from just five years ago when 97 percent of teachers were awarded tenure after three years on the job.

Walcott said that stricter standards for teachers was the reason that fewer teachers were awarded tenure. "Receiving tenure is no longer an automatic right, and our new approach ensures that teachers who are granted tenure have earned it,” said Walcott in a press release.

Teacher who do not get tenure may continue to teach and, for some, the decision to grant tenure can be extended to the next year. That's what happened to 42 percent of eligible teachers this year.

Principals determine which teachers get tenure, rating them on a four-point scale: ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective.

Even as fewer teachers are getting tenure, more teachers are being hired. NY1 reports that the hiring freeze has eased up for 2012-2013, with many of the new hires coming from the ranks of Teach for America (new college graduates) and Teaching Fellows, a program that targets career-changers.

A scarcity of special education teachers persists. To help ease the shortage, eligible general education teachers who have been "excessed" from their jobs may enter the Special Education Re-Certification Program. That would allow them to teach special needs children if they are working toward getting special education certification at Adelphi University.

Old School New School, a website about high school choice created by public school students went live this week. With colorful graphics and funny videos, it gives pointers to 8th graders about how to apply to high school, never an easy task in New York City.

City teens are invited to the launch party on Saturday, July 28 at The teens worked with the Resilience Advocacy Project, teaching artist Douglas Paulson and the Center for Urban Pedagogy. They also interviewed Insideschools staff to see what we look for High school students investigated the public high school application process and created a website to help other teens understand the complicated admissions system.

Old School New School went live this week and city teens are invited to the launch party on Saturday, July 28 in Manhattan at the Austrian Cultural Forum at 11 East 52nd Street, from 3-5 p.m.  Middle-schoolers especially will have the chance to view the website and some videos and ask questions from students who put it together.

Six teens worked with the Resilience Advocacy Project, teaching artist Douglas Paulson and the Center for Urban Pedagogy. They also interviewed Insideschools staff to see what we look for on our school visits and how we help parents and students navigate the process with our school reviews and slideshows, blogposts and videos.

The launch event is free and open to teens of all ages. Food and beverages provided. Make sure to RSVP by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 27.

Read more about the site and the launch on GothamSchools.


Rising 8th-graders, who may be spending some of the summer prepping for the specialized high school exam, will have a chance to learn more about the nine specialized high schools at workshops on Tuesday and Thursday nights this week in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Department of Education officials, including representatives from the specialized schools, will give tips on how to prepare for the exam, given in October, and talk about their schools.

These two workshops are the last in a series of July workshops about high school admissions and are the only ones specific to specialized high schools.  Newcomers to New York City may sign up now for the August exam and auditions for LaGuardia, the performing arts high schools.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:07

Collect backpacks for homeless kids

Drugstores and variety stores have already started displaying school supplies for September.  To help those families that cannot afford to buy supplies, Volunteers of America is launching its annual Operation Backpack, to collect backpacks and stuff them with school supplies for students who are homeless or live in domestic violence shelters.

Last year, 8,000 backpacks were collected and filled with requested school supplies and distributed to children.

Want to participate? The website lists ways that people can help:

For the month of July, you may drop off backpacks and school supplies at any Duane Reade store as well as other locations, including the offices of several City Council members.

In July and August corporations and other organizations are holding drives to collect items. In August, volunteers will be sorting supplies at a huge space in midtown.

You can host a drive at your office, community organization or place of worship, or you can purchase supplies from a wishlist online. Items may be shipped to: Volunteers of America, Attn: Kristin Kelly-Jangraw, 340 West 85th Street | New York, NY 10025.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:05

State wants input on teaching ELLs

Do you have any ideas about the most effective ways to identify and teach children who speak limited or no English? If so, the New York State Education Department would like to hear from you as it revises state regulations which define how schools offer services and English language instruction to children. The goal is to improve instruction and educational outcomes for new immigrants and other children with limited English proficiency.

From now until July 30, parents, teachers and school administrators are invited to take an online survey. Topics include: how English Language Learners (known as ELLs) are identified, or misidentified; how students exit the ELL program; parent involvement and choice in the type of program their child attends,  high school graduation requirements and others.

Click here to take the survey. It will take about a half-hour to complete.

Monday, 09 July 2012 16:00

Council launches LGBT book drive

The City Council and Department of Education have launched a five-borough book drive for schools to heighten awareness and understanding in students about LGBT (lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender) issues.

A message from Christine Quinn's office says: "Access to these books can help prevent bullying, depression and other negative outcomes in students, many of whom come from non-traditional families and/or may be confused about their own thoughts and feelings. It can also help children develop empathy by increasing their understanding about how people around the world are both similar to and different from themselves."

A Chancellor's Regulation, updated in 2011, addresses the issue of bullying but some groups are concerned that the regulation doesn't go far enough as incidents of bullying continue.

Here's a list of requested books that may help spread the word:

Thursday, 05 July 2012 17:09

Turnaround schools: Lose-lose for kids?

No sooner did school let out on June 27 than the uncertainty began for students and staff at the 24 schools slated for "turnaround." An arbitrator ruled on June 29 that the city could not force the removal of teachers from those schools -- even though teachers had already been told they had to re-apply for their jobs or find teaching positions elsewhere. On July 10, the mayor said that the schools should plan for the same teachers to return in the fall. 

Prior to the ruling, the turnaround plan seemed to be a fait accomplis. New principals were installed and even the new high school directory issued last week lists schools under new names. Long Island High School became Global Scholars Academies at Long Island City, for example. The DOE still hasn't decided whether the new names will stick or will revert to the original names.

And what about the students who attend the 24 schools? For some time now it has been a lose-lose situation for them, writes Gail Robinson.

Read her account in Huffington Post: NYC's School Closing Gambit Leaves Students Behind.

Thursday, 28 June 2012 14:45

Insideschools presents Inside Stats

Many New York City schools call themselves "college prep" schools yet a surprising number of high schools don't offer the courses needed to prepare students for college. Unfortunately many students often don't find that out until after they are enrolled. It's not easy for parents and students to find out which schools offer college track courses such as chemistry, physics or pre-calculus. Course offerings are not listed in the high school directory or on a school's Progress Report.

Insideschools and the Center for New York City Affairs are developing a new high school score card (PDF) called Inside Stats. Clara Hemphill presented the proposed scorecard at June 28 forum at the New School. Inside Stats will mine existing Education Department data, from school Progress Reports and Learning Environment Surveys, to offer a more complete picture of high schools.

Philissa Cramer at GothamSchools has a thorough recap of the event. You can watch the panel discussion below and hop over to for Hemphill's presentation. 

We live-tweeted highlights from @insideschools under #NYCschools.

We plan to continue to tweak the score card so please give us your feedback in comments. What other data would you like to see?

The Center for New York City Affairs and today will present Inside Stats, a new high school scorecard designed to provide a well-rounded picture of NYC's high schools using available data. But, are there better ways to measure our schools?

Clara Hemphill, senior editor at Insideschools will moderate a June 28 morning panel discussion by experts on high schools: Beyond Test Scores: Imagining New Ways to Measure NYC's High Schools. The panel will include: Robert Hughes, president, New Visions for Public Schools; Martin Kurzwell, senior executive, director for research, accountability and data, NYC Department of Education and Jacqueline Wayans, Bronx parent and parent information specialist at and Charissa Fernandez, chief operating officer of The After School Corporation.

Can't make the event? We'll host a live-stream here and on our homepage beginning at 8:30 a.m. Watch it and share your ideas of how best to evaluate and measure New York City high schools.