Wednesday, 07 August 2013 12:16

Test results: 7 in 10 kids below grade level

Today's release of the April 2013 state test results show that only 26 percent of New York City's 3rd through 8th graders are performing on grade level in reading and 30 percent are on grade level in math. While the city isn't far behind the state -- 31 percent of New York state students scored on grade level in both math and reading -- the numbers mean that 7 in 10 New York City students are below grade level when measured by the state's new Common Core aligned assesments. City officials emphasized that teachers and students will not be penalized for low scores.

Black, Hispanic, special needs kids and students learning to speak English fared especially poorly. The achievement gap remains a "daunting challenge," said Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch Wednesday.

At a press conference timed with the public release of data Wednesday morning, Tisch and Education Commissioner John King acknowledged the steep drop in proficiency levels. But they repeated the hopeful message sent by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday: these scores set a "new baseline."

"I urge you to embrace the fact that this is a new standard; a significant standard has been created to adopt and adapt,” said Tisch of the Common Core realignment. 

King also advised New Yorkers to reset their expectations for the federally-endorsed Common Core alignment that the state is undergoing, which Duncan, Tisch and King say will make students better prepared for life after high school. “Assessment results today establish a new baseline,” said King. “Changes in scores are largely a reflection of the new Common Core standards that the Board of Regents adopted in 2010.”

The education officials explained the huge drop in scores across the board as a consequence of the higher standards they say the Common Core puts into place for New York's students. "It's important that people not look at these results as a remediation problem. This is an instruction problem,” said King. He is confident Common Core standards are the solution to that instruction problem. 

Michael Mulgrew, head of the UFT, criticized the magnitude of the drop in scores. "The scores should have dropped, but not to this level," Mulgrew said. 

Education historian Diane Ravitch also expressed concerns about the new Common Core aligned state exams. After reviewing the 5th grade reading exam, Ravitch said the test was similar in difficulty to that of the 8th grade reading test for NAEP (a national assessment given to 8th graders and 4th graders). "My reaction was that the difficulty level of the passages and the questions was not age-appropriate," she wrote on her blog.

Test results for some of the city's most popular schools are surprisingly low. For example, PS 234 is a sought-after downtown Manhattan school but, acccording to the state tests, only 64 percent of school's 3rd-5th graders are reading on grade level and only 60 percent are performing at grade level in math.

The citywide results

Citywide scores are available by school here. Higher income areas like Manhattan's District 2 continue to out-perform higher poverty areas like East New York's District 23. Scores at the city's elite gifted and talented programs continue to be high: 95 percent of students at Anderson are proficient in reading and 98 percent in math -- just a few percentage points below 99 percent proficiency rates in both reading and math last year. At NEST+M, 94 percent of students scored 3's and 4's in math, 95 percent scored 3's and 4's in reading. Every 4th grader performed on grade level in math at both Anderson and NEST+m.

Students who score 3 and 4 on the state tests are considered "proficient," at or above grade level. Of Asian 3-8th graders in New York City, 48 percent scored level 3 and 4 on state reading tests, and 61 percent scored 3's and 4's on math tests. Half of the city's white students scored 3 or 4 on math tests, and 47 percent were proficient in reading. Hispanic students scored far worse on the state tests with only 17 percent proficient in English and 19 percent proficient in math. Among African American students, 16 percent scored on grade level in reading and 15 percent in math.

English language learners performed surprisingly poorly on math tests - only 11 percent were proficient in math. Last year, about a third of English language learners scored at or above grade level in math. Only three percent of English Languge Learners are on grade level in reading this year. 

Special needs students also posted low numbers: eight percent scored 3's and 4's in math and 6 percent scored 3's and 4's in reading. 

Teachers and schools will not be punished for the low scores, Chancellor Walcott and Mayor Mike Bloomberg said today, speaking at another press conference. Schools will be graded on a curve for progress reports, state test scores will not affect promotion decisions for students and teachers won't be evaluated based on their students' test scores until the 2014-2015 school year.

New York City families and students will be able to access individual student scores in ARIS on August 26, according to the Education Department. The DOE also plans to set up ARIS centers in select libraries with staffers available to help parents access scores, though it has not announced which libraries yet.

The 70 percent of 3rd-8th graders who scored at level 1 and 2 on the state tests will need extra support to catch up to grade level and may be eligible for school-based extras like AIS (academic intervention services) and after-school tutoring. The state is also "rethinking our school calendar and our school schedule,” and considering a longer school day or school year and other ways of expanding learning time, King said.

What should parents think?

William Frackelton, principal of the Soundview Academy in the Bronx, advised parents to think of the scores in the context of a larger shift toward higher standards that are more in line with international education standards. "It's easy to personalize this but understand the nation as a whole is trying to recalibrate," he said.

He suggested that parents worried about how their child scored on the exams should consider tutoring and investing in other enrichment activities for their children as educational expectations are just going to continue to rise. "Extracurricular now becomes the norm and not an extra," said Frackelton.

Parents of rising 5th and 8th graders who are concerned about applying to screened middle and high schools should know that some screened middle schools and a few screened high schools have decided to strike state tests from their admission requirements. Others will likely adjust cut-off scores based on this year's test. "Principals are smart, they'll know how to look at other measures to bring students into their schools," said Stacey Walsh, principal of Brownsville Collaborative, a middle school in Brooklyn's Distrcit 23.

"Test scores are just one measure and what it measures is up for debate," Walsh said. "I have a feeling that it will bring back multiple measures and give us a better picture of who the students is."

 

Published in News and views

Mexicans are both the fastest growing and youngest major ethnic group in New York City, with nearly half under the age of 25. Yet only 37 percent of the city's Mexican population, ages 16-24, are enrolled in school, according to a new report by Feet in Two Worlds, at the New School's Center for New York City Affairs. Foreign-born Mexican-Americans have a particularly high dropout rate, as do young men. 

A new podcast explores the high dropout rate among Mexican youth and reports on efforts by schools and community groups to reverse the trend. It finds that poverty and a lack of English language proficiency are major contributing factors. In addition, some undocumented students say they are given erroneous information by school guidance counselors.

Listen to the podcast on Fi2W.org

Published in News and views
Monday, 17 June 2013 18:09

29 new dual language programs to open

The city plans to open 29 new dual language programs in elementary, middle and high schools in September, according to a list of new programs released by the Department of Education. New York City's public school students speak over 185 languages at home, as reported in the city's recent Internal Budget Office audit of city schools, and there are dual language programs in at least a half-dozen of those languages.

Dual language programs offer English speakers the opportunity to learn a second language alongside native speakers of another language who become proficient in both English and their native tongue. Ten percent of the city's more than 150,000 English language learners were in dual language programs in 2011, according to the IBO. 

Spanish is the second-most common language spoken at home -- nearly a quarter of New Yorkers are native Spanish speakers -- and many of the city's new and established dual language programs are in Spanish.  But the programs opening this fall will expand the city's dual language offerings to include three languages not offered previously in elementary school. The Polish enclave of Greenpoint, Brooklyn will get a Polish dual language program at PS 34 Oliver H. PerryPS 214 in East New York will open a Bengali program; and PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington in Bay Ridge will start an Arabic program. A handful of new Chinese programs are in the works for the fall, as well. 

Published in News and views

Dear Judy,

We plan to move to NYC from South America this summer. Can we still register our 5-year-old in kindergarten?

DT

Dear DT,

Yes, of course. New York City has a kindergarten place for every child who applies, as long as you can present proof of residence in NYC and of your child's age.  Most districts have zoned elementary schools. You may register at your zoned school once school opens in September. If you already know your address, call 311, or from outside New York, 212-new york to find your zoned school. You may also enter your address in the search box on the Department of Education's website  to find the zoned school for that address. There may be other school options but you are guaranteed a place in your zoned school or one that is nearby, in case the neighborhood school is overcrowded.

Published in News and views
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.

Published in News and views
Monday, 05 March 2012 10:12

Elementary Dad: DOE memo gets an "F"

Anyone who regularly reads Department of Education documents knows better than to expect fine literature. Many DOE memos and letters are so full of the bureaucratic nonsense known as “eduspeak” that they make an IRS 1040 form look like “Huckleberry Finn.” But a letter recently sent home with my 1st-grader set a new low.

The title, “Newly Identified District in Need of Improvement Year 10,” is parents’ first clue they’re in for trouble. Only the DOE could have a school district in need of improvement for 10 years and describe it as “Newly Identified.” But it gets worse.

I give you the second paragraph, as written, with boldface letters as shown in the original:

"During the 2010-11 school year, English Language Arts was designated as a District in Need of Improvement Year 9 (DINI-9) in English Language Arts. Because the District failed to make AYP at the elementary, middle and high school level in English Language Arts in 2010-11, the District has been designated as a District in Need of Improvement Year 10 (DINI-10) in English Language Arts for the 2011-12 school year."

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 13:20

About our data

Insideschools aims to provide up-to-date data on New York City public schools. We rely on official statistics and information from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED), which monitor most public schools. Charter school data not included in city statistics was provided by The Charter School Center.

Below is a list of our "go-to" data sources, along with the key information each dataset provides. These sources were also used to create Insidestats, a new feature of Insideschools, which seeks to provide useful statistics on New York City’s high schools. See Insidestats section below to get specific information on how we collect and analyze the numbers for Insidestats.

About our data: General information

School name, Address, Telephone Number, Principal name – From the DOE Office of Organizational Data LCGMS Database (updated continually)

Attendance and Data on K-12 Tests, Graduation and College Readiness – From the DOE Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Survey Information from Students, Teachers and Parents – From the DOE Learning Environment Survey (2012-13)

Student Demographics and Enrollment (including free and reduced lunch, percent of English language learners, percent of students receiving special education services, ethnicity) – From the Preliminary DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2014)

ELA and Math Achievement Test Scores Grades 3-8 – From the DOE Achievement Test Database (2012-13)

Attendance and Enrollment for New Schools – From the DOE Period Attendance Reporting Database (updated continually)

Average Class Sizes (updated twice a year; if link is broken try searching "DOE class size report") – From DOE Class Size Report Database (2012-13)

Elementary School Special Programs (gifted and talented, dual language, and magnet programs ) – From the DOE Elementary School Directory (2013-14)

Elementary and Middle School Zone Maps - From NYC Open Data School Files School Zones (2011-12)

School Overcrowding and Utilization – From the School Construction Authority Enrollment, Capacity & Utilization Report (2011-12)

About our data: Insidestats

Insidestats is a new tool on Insideschools giving families one easy place to review and compare high school quality and outcomes. The numbers on Insidestats were collected from datasets published annually by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Some numbers were provided by special request.

See the list below for the sources and dates of each piece of information on Insidestats. We have also provided links to the original datasets, if available, for those who wish to delve deeper into the numbers.

A note about citywide averages and the color of our apples on Insidestats

Insidestats uses color-coded apples to show how well a school is doing compared to other New York City high schools. Schools that are better than the citywide average on a given indicator get a green apple. Schools that are worse than the citywide average get a red apple. Those that are around the citywide average get a neutral blue apple.

We used a common statistical calculation to determine whether a given school is below average, near the average, or better than average on each data point. This calculation is called a "standard deviation." It allows us to easily see if a number is near the citywide average or substantially better or worse than the citywide average. We used the following curve to assign the apple colors. For each measure, one-third of schools are above average, one-third are below and one-third are in the middle. (The blue section is taller because many more schools tend to be near the average. The blue section is one-half of a standard deviation from the average in each direction.)

Figure 1: A statistical illustration of how our apples were color-coded:

Apples Colors Bell Curve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In some cases, the citywide average was provided by the DOE or NYSED. When the citywide average was not available, we calculated our own citywide averages using the data we had collected. It is important to note that the averages we calculated include only general education high schools and secondary schools in Districts 1-32. We do not include data from charter schools, transfer schools or schools that primarily serve students with special needs (though we do hope to include these schools in the future). Averages have been calculated as “weighted averages,” meaning that we adjusted the averages to account for schools that are much larger or smaller than other schools.

The following table lists each measure on Insidestats, its source, and how the average was calculated. We have included links to the original dataset when it is available. If you have any questions about the numbers, datasets or our calculations, please email Kim Nauer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also let us know if you see errors or miscalculations in your school's numbers. We will correct any problems as soon as possible.

Insidestats: Sources and links

Click the linked text in blue to explore the original dataset, when available. In addition, much of this information is available on your school’s DOE website. Click “View More DOE Statistics and Info” on the bottom of each page on Insidestats to see more.

AT A GLANCE

Shared Campus - From the DOE Office of Organizational Data (2013-14)

Students Enrolled - From the DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2013-14)

Average Daily Attendance Rate - From the DOE School Progress Report Database (2012-2013; 2013-2014 for schools opened in 2013)

Uniform Policy - From the DOE School Directories (2013-2014)

Metal Detectors - Site surveys from Insideschools and New York Civil Liberties Union (ongoing)

Student Demographics - DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2013-14)

Free Lunch and ELL Students - DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2013-14)

8th Grade Math/ELA Test Scores of High School’s Students - DOE High School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the average of schools in the Insidestats database.

Middle School Test Scores on ELA and Math exams (for high schools that include grades 6-8) - DOE School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the sum of students scoring 3 or 4 over the sum of students taking the exam.

SAFETY AND VIBE

Number of Students in an Average English Class - From the DOE Class Size Database (2013-2014)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking an average of schools in the Insidestats database.

Student and Teacher Survey Questions - DOE Learning Environment Survey Database (2012-2013)

Note: Percentages were calculated by combining the percentage of students or teachers in the survey that answered "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree."

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking an average of schools in the Insidestats database.

Percent of Chronically Absent Students – High School Student attendance data provided by the DOE (2012-13); all other grades from the Progress Reports.

Note: Percentage calculated from the number of students missing more than 20 or more days of school year.

Citywide Average: Calculated the number of chronically absent students in each school and added up the number citywide dividing by the total number of students in those schools.

WHO GRADUATES

Class of 2013 Four-Year Graduation Rate - DOE High School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Class of 2013 Six-Year Graduation Rate - DOE High School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Note: The Progress Report provides preliminary graduation rate numbers. These numbers may change when the official graduation rate numbers are released in mid-2013.

Class of 2012 Four-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Class of 2012 Six-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Class of 2012 Advanced Regents Diploma Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Class of 2012 High School Dropout Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Citywide Averages Class of 2012: Provided in the NYSED School Level Graduation Database (2011-12)

COLLEGE PREP

School College Prep Course Offerings and Outcomes

DOE High School Progress Report Database (2011-12). Dataset includes:

Students taking at least one advanced placement class getting a 3 or better

Students taking at least one college course getting a C or better

Students passing a Regents exam for Algebra 2, MathB, Physics or Chemistry

Students entering CUNY without needing remedial help

Students graduating on time and entering college within 18 months

Citywide Average: DOE High School Progress Report Database (2011-12) when available

SAT Reading and Math Scores - DOE SAT Database (2011-12)

Citywide and Nationwide Average: DOE SAT Summary Report (2011-12)

Student Survey on Quality of College and Career Counseling

DOE Learning Environment Survey Database (2011-2012)

Note: Percentages were calculated by combining the percentage of students or teachers in the survey that answered "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree."

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking an average of schools in the Insidestats database.

SPECIAL ED AND ELL

Class of 2011 Special Ed Four-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Class of 2011 Special Ed Six-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Class of 2011 ELL Four-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Class of 2011 ELL Six-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Citywide Averages Class of 2011: Provided in the NYSED Graduation Database (June 2012)

Team Teaching/Self-Contained Classes - School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2011-12)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the average of schools in the Insidestats database

Students Spending Day with Non-Disabled Peers - Special Education Service Delivery Report (2011-2012)

Note: While there is no public database for this report, it is available on each school’s website.

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the average of schools in the Insidestats database

Published in About Us
Thursday, 05 January 2012 16:17

Ask Judy: Starting a dual language program

Dear Judy,

How does the DOE decide to start a dual language program? Are they proposed by interested parents?

ELL Mom.

Dear ELL Mom,

Parents do have a big role in establishing dual language programs: the Department of Education is obligated to start one if at least 12 parents of English language learners who speak the same home language request one.

Published in News and views
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 11:03

What is the Common Core?

Parents attending parent-teacher conferences this week may be hearing talk about the “Common Core” and wondering just what it is. At a Department of Education presentation in October, David Coleman, founder of the Grow Network and one of the authors of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), declared, “If you do this work [aligned with Common Core standards] then you’re ready for college.”

In short, the CCSS is not a curriculum but a set of standards defining the knowledge and skills that students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade need to master each year to be prepared for the next grade, and ultimately college or work. Creating common academic standards across the country was a state-led initiative, involving a coalition of governors and educators. The actual standards were developed by teachers, administrators, experts and parents.

Modeled after successful programs in the U.S. and abroad the Common Core standards are meant to provide teachers and parents with a shared understanding of what students are expected to learn. One aim is ensure that kids who move across city or even state lines end up in schools with the same information being taught.

Published in News and views
Thursday, 10 November 2011 11:48

A, B or D? Grading a dual language program

At PS 24 in Sunset Park, 90 percent of the students are Latino and many are still learning to speak English. But, instead of giving them English-only instruction PS 24 offers a dual language program, with kindergartners getting 90% of their instruction in Spanish.

In 1st to 5th grade, students study half a day in English and half a day in Spanish but the early immersion in Spanish helps solidify reading and writing in two languages, offering longterm benefits for bilingual children, according to Principal Christina Fuentes.

Ramaa Reddy Raghavan, a reporting fellow at Feet in Two Worlds, writes that the"city’s dual language schools have a tough time competing with other schools in terms of academic performance." Because of that, some schools may be reluctant to start a program, despite the benefits for children becoming profiicent in two languages.  PS 24 got a "B" on last year's Progress Report -- an "A" for environment but a "D" for student performance on state tests.

Read A Dual Language School in Brooklyn Struggles to Meet DOE expectations But Succeeds in Child Development Areas on Feet in Two Worlds, a project of the Center for New York City Affairs.

Published in News and views
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