Recent comments

Search News & Views

News and views

College Counselor: Retake SAT or ACT?

Written by Dr. Jane S. Gabin Wednesday, 10 July 2013 11:31

Q: I took the SAT in March and got a 2190 and then took the ACT in June and got a 35. I would be happy with the 35 if I didn’t think that I could score a 36, and I also feel strongly that I could improve on my SAT score. Is it worth it to retake either test? Would it look bad if I retook both? Does a high score on the SAT look better than a high score on the ACT?

A: I’d be happy with a 35, too! Congratulations --your scores are enviable indeed, and I am sure that many readers of this column wish they could do as well on their tests. But yes – I would try for a 36, just because you are so close to it. What do you have to lose?

Your query has several parts to it, and I need to provide several answers – not just for you but for everyone facing standardized tests for college admissions:

HS directory: Read the fine print!

Written by Anna Schneider Tuesday, 02 July 2013 12:40

The Education Department's new directory of the city's 413 high schools, and 705 programs, delivers an official hit to the autonomy of "audition" schools in selecting their future students.

A few months ago, parents and administrators were furious when the DOE assigned both general and special education students who did not audition to selective arts schools. The 2013-14 high school directory clarifies that policy, among others. 

On page 5 of the directory, which went home with rising 8th graders last week, an astericked note next to the admissions methods for audition schools explains that the DOE's Office of Enrollment reserves the right to place students in audition programs if the school has not ranked enough students to fill their seats. That's a change from the admissions policy stated in last year's high school directory on page 8 which said: "You must audition to be eligible for admission."

"The revised screening policy at audition schools had been in place prior to this year, and based on feedback, we wanted to be even more public about it. We always want to build on our record of transparency in our admissions and enrollment policies," said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. 

K-12 charters: No seats for outsiders

Written by Gail Robinson Tuesday, 02 July 2013 11:40

If all goes according to plan, about 70 proud teenagers will get diplomas when Success Academy Charter School–Manhattan High School graduates its first class in spring 2018. The moment will likely bring some sadness, though. After all, most of these students will have been together since they entered kindergarten in fall 2007.

Over the years, some students will no doubt have left the group. But, if Success sticks to its announced policies, no new students would have joined the class since 2010, when the graduates were 9 or 10 years old.

Firmly entrenched at the elementary school level, even though they educate only about 6 percent of New York City's public school students, an increasing number of charter operators are seeking to offer a K-12 education for their students.

How they handle this expansion—whether they admit students from other elementary and middle schools—is almost certain to raise new questions and concerns about the role of charter schools and who they serve. Despite those and other questions, the Bloomberg administration is working to put as many charters into play as possible as the clock ticks down to the end of the mayor's term.

Read the rest of this story on City Limits: New Charter High School Will be Closed to Transfer Students

Ask Judy: How do I find a good high school?

Written by Judy Baum Tuesday, 02 July 2013 11:19

Hi Judy,

My daughter is going to 8th grade and she has to pick schools to go to in 9th grade. How can I find the perfect school for her? I'm looking for a safe-clean environment and high performance educationally. I am looking forward to have her in a specialized school like Bronx Science.

PAP, Planning ahead parent

Dear PAP,

You are starting the process at the right time.  The Department of Education has announced July workshops for parents about the high school admissions process. Read our post on this issue and plan to attend those workshops.

Even before the sessions, you have homework to do! Your daughter's middle school should have given her a copy of the 2013-2014 Directory of New York City Public High Schools with information about every public high school in the city. If she didn't get one, go to the
nearest enrollment office to pick it up, along with the Specialized High Schools Student Handbook, that has  information about the eight exam schools that require a special test for admission. Bronx Science is one them.  You can also find the directories online. The handbook includes a sample of the qualifying test: the Specialized High School Admission Test, (SHSAT),which will be administered on Oct. 26-27 this year. After taking the sample test, you and your daughter can figure out how much studying she needs to do to qualify for an exam school. Many students arrange tutoring, either individually or in a group, others study with friends or on their own and then take more sample tests. You can find these online or in prep books at a bookstore. See more tips on how to prepare for the SHSAT in a previous Ask Judy column.

The Youth Justice Board is looking for teenagers who want to create policy changes to improve the lives of New York City public school students. The Youth Justice Board is open to New York City students age 14-18. In the 2013-2014 year, the Board will study chronic absenteeism and implement policy recommendations to defeat absenteeism in New York City schools. 

The 2012- 2013 Youth Board made ten recommendations to Chancellor Dennis Walcott on how to reduce chronic absenteeism. Suggestions ranged from taking a closer look at school security to providing peer mentors to students who are frequently absent. Read the full list of recommendations here.

“Next year’s [board will] focus on implementing select recommendations from the report. After receiving training in research, public speaking, and leadership skills, members of the Youth Justice Board will work to bring ideas from this report into reality. One possible project might be creating informational materials for young people and their parents that help them connect daily school attendance with positive future outcomes,” said Linda Baird, director of the program.

Students commit to the Justice Board for a 10 months and receive a stipend. Applications are due by Friday, July 12.

Apply hereApplication materials also available online at www.courtinnovation.org/yjb.  For more information about the program, or to request hard-copies of application materials, please contact Linda Baird at (646) 386-5925, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Several parents whose children boycotted the state tests this spring complained that their children are being held back and forced to go to summer school—despite their teachers’ recommendations that they be promoted to the next grade.

The parents held a press conference with City Councilman Robert Jackson on steps of the Department of Education headquarters at the Tweed Courthouse on Thursday to protest high-stakes testing and the city’s promotion policies.

This spring, New York State instituted more difficult standardized tests designed to conform to the Common Core Learning Standards. According to DOE policy, children who scored in the bottom 10 percent of test takers would be required to attend summer school unless their teachers prepared a portfolio demonstrating they had mastered the material.

Parents said the schools had difficulty preparing portfolios, and the DOE did not evaluate the portfolios adequately.

“Children [who opt out of testing] are perceived the same as children who received a low score,” even if they are high-performing students,” said Andrea Mata, a public school parent and member of the parent advocacy group Change the Stakes. “This is the second year in a row my child has not been promoted in June.”

Gretchen Mergenthaler said her son opted out of testing in 5th grade to protest what she saw as excessive test prep. Although his teachers put together a portfolio of his work, it soon became clear “the DOE has no clue what a portfolio is. I find it very sad that the teachers who know him and his work best are completely left out.”

Peter Nunez, whose 3rd grade son opted out of testing, stopped by the school to ask about the portfolio procedures. “They waited until just last week to tell us they don’t know how to do the portfolio. But two days ago, we were called in to tell us it was constructed and my son failed the portfolio, [even though he had good grades all years.] We went to the superintendent who said she never received the portfolio.”

DOE spokeswoman Erin Hughes from the DOE disputed the parents’ claims. “We have said all along that no individual student would be disadvantaged because the state made the tests harder. Summer school is important for students who are falling behind and need additional instructional time. This year, the Department has recommended that the students with the bottom 10 percent of scores go to summer school. These students likely scored at a level one on the state’s proficiency scale and will benefit from the extra summer learning.”

 

 

Stunned by Regents score? You can appeal

Written by Pamela Wheaton Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:41

The results of Regents exams came as a nasty shock for some students this year. Students from some of the city's top, screened schools--including Eleanor Roosevelt and NYC Lab School--failed exams or scored far lower than they expected in subjects they usually ace, their parents told Insideschools. 

"The scoring is bizarre -- it doesn't make any sense," said the parent of an "A" student at Lab who scored a 77 on the English Regents. "She had a 98 average going into the Regents and she is exceptionally literate.  She got a 96 on the Global Regents." Because of glitches in scoring, many students did not get the results of the Regents exams until the last day of school, June 26. 

This parent--like many others, as reported by GothamSchools--plans to appeal her daughter's score but couldn't find information on how to do so. Here's how: If you suspect there has been an error in grading the exam, let the principal know as soon as possible--in writing, or via email--that you want the exam to be rescored.

"Students, parents, and school administrators may request an appeal to a Regents exam score if they have a concern about the accuracy of their students results," Simone D'Souza, director of the data and research office at the DOE, wrote Insideschools in an email. "Students and parents should direct appeals through the principal and school administrators direct appeal requests to their superintendent. Any part of an exam can be appealed and exams may be appealed regardless of a student's performance on the test."

Some parents question whether principals will be willing to go through procedures to have a test rescored. After all, a student may retake a test later to try for a higher score, one principal told a parent. That's not an acceptable answer to some parents who feel there may be a larger problem with the exams this year.

"I'm willing to accept that my kid had a bad day," said the Lab parent. "I'm not willing to just sit and take it without the opportunity to review and appeal if warranted."

What are the consequences for low, but passing, scores on Regents exams? Students who score below a 75 on the ELA Regents and lower than 80 on the Algebra Regents may have to take remedial courses if they attend a CUNY school. Outside of New York state, most colleges and universities don't even consider the Regents exams when deciding whether to admit a student. However, parents say there are other considerations.

"It makes your high grades in class seem highly inflated," said the Lab mom. "The lower scores could cost a potential scholarship."

Principals will be able to get copies of the exams, so if you want to review your child's exam, ask your principal to show it to you. If your principal drags his or her feet, you may want to call your superintendent. 

If you want to read the fine print, here's what the DOE's press office sent us, quoting the official Regents Exam Review and Appeals Procedures:

· For exams that were scored non-electronically, schools will have completed exams shipped to them by Friday, June 28.

· For exams that were scored electronically, schools will be able to view completed exams online in early July; more details are forthcoming regarding how principals can access these scores. In addition, schools will receive DVDs with completed exams in July.

Scoring Appeals

In accordance with New York State guidelines, students, parents, and school administrators may request an appeal to Regents exam scores. School administrators should direct appeal requests to their superintendent, and must include the exam subject, administration month and year, impacted student(s)' NYC ID numbers, and rationale for the request. Upon receipt of the request for appeal, the superintendent will determine whether the exam(s) in question will be submitted for rescoring and inform the principal.

· Appeals regarding seniors will be prioritized for review; until the appeal is resolved principals should use the student's original score in making determinations regarding student diploma status and participation in commencement ceremonies.

· For appeals that require rescoring, all rescoring will be completed by licensed, trained teachers from outside the impacted student(s)' school. The rescoring process will be overseen by the superintendent and the DOE's Office of Assessment. Appeals impacting more than five students or five percent of test-takers (whichever is greater) in an exam subject area will be sent to the State Education Department for permission to rescore, in accordance with State guidelines. Please note that per State guidance, the score generated from the rescore is generally considered final, regardless of whether it is higher or lower than the student's original score.

· Once the rescore is completed, the superintendent will communicate the final decision to the principal. The Office of Assessment will update the score(s) in ATS as relevant and communicate the change in score to the State Education Department.

In accordance with New York State guidelines, parents and students may review students' Regents exam answer papers in the presence of the principal or his or her designee, and may receive copies of answer papers on request. If a school receives a request from a parent or student to review a student's exam answer papers, the school should set up time for the student or parent to view the exams once the exams become available.

Note: Regents scoring appeals procedures as outlined above are not the same as appeals of a Regents exam score to earn a diploma. To submit a Regents score appeal to earn a diploma, students must meet very specific eligibility criteria; for more information on eligibility requirements and the procedure for submitting an appeal to the superintendent, see the DOE's High School Academic Policy Reference Guide Appendix C.

Please contact your network assessment point or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

 

 

PTA mom "retires" with advice for parents

Written by Pamela Wheaton Thursday, 27 June 2013 12:13

by Michele Herman:

Michele Herman is a writer, editor and teacher living in the Village. She writes frequently about education and community issues for The Villager. This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Downtown Express.


For the past 16 years, I have been an active New York City public school parent. Most of those years I’ve served on the executive board of one P.T.A. or another, and for the past three, I’ve been a parent rep on the School Leadership Team at Stuyvesant High School.

My learning curve was considerable: when my older son entered kindergarten at P.S. 3, my first job was folding the auditorium chairs. During my younger son’s last years at Stuyvesant, when the administration was edging toward a one-size-fits-all educational approach, I was fighting hard for things I believe all kids deserve from their school: humaneness, flexibility and breadth of offerings.

Along the way I learned library software, helped hire two principals, organized writing festivals, took a ream of minutes, sent out weekly email blasts, recruited officers, made speeches, and wrote a multi-page monthly newsletter, handbooks and a manifesto. I wasn’t even close to being one of the most involved parents. I bow down before all the good-humored, overtired presidents under whom I’ve served. I bow even deeper before the parents who are working to reform the whole system.

Spread the word! Free summer meals

Written by Jacqueline Wayans Wednesday, 26 June 2013 04:07

As a former food stamp recipient and a mom who uses great savvy to feed my three kids, I was encouraged and empowered at this week’s Hunger Crisis Forum to hear Margarette Purvis, president and CEO of Food Bank for New York City say: “No one should feel shame just because they don’t have enough money [to adequately feed their family].” The Hunger Crisis Forum took place the same week that the annual Free Summer Meals Program [PDF] kicks off.

An all-female panel of CEO’s discussed rising food prices and the increasing number of parents struggling to feed their families. In fact, they said, many educated and middle class families find themselves using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the first time.

At least 80% of students in NYC public school qualify for free lunch. In response to the growing need, the United States Department of Agriculture is spending $400 million on the Summer Meals Program which starts in New York City on June 27. Yet only 16 percent of eligible children are expected to participate. Why? According to speakers at the forum, that "stigma" and "embarrassment" often keep people from taking advantage of the services.

If you've got a 7th grader finishing up the school year now, it's time for you to start thinking about high school. Here's what you and your rising 8th-grader can do over the summer.

Schools are handing out the 2013-2014 directory of high schools (now online) before summer vacation. If your child doesn't bring one home. you can pick one up at the nearest enrollment office. You'll will find information about every high school in the city including: what it takes to get in, what time school starts for freshman, whether there is a dress code, and the number of students who applied and were accepted last year. You can also see the school's graduation rate.

To introduce middle school families to the admissions process, the Department of Education enrollment office is offering evening workshops, two in every borough between July 16 and Aug. 1.  The first five workshops will  offer an overview of the application process and the types of high school programs; the last five will be about the nine specialized high schools, eight of which require an exam for admissions while the ninth requires an audition.