Tuesday, 03 December 2013 11:52

State spanks DOE over bad behavior

Five-year-old J.P. started kindergarten at his neighborhood school in September. Like many kids, he had never been to school before. Two days into the year, his mother received a phone call from the assistant principal complaining that J.P.’s behavior was disrupting the class. His offense? Getting out of his seat and playing with his shoelaces.

While the rest of the class would attend the full day of school, J.P. would now only attend half-days indefinitely, the family was told. After consulting with Advocates for Children, his parents asked for a specific action plan to target J.P.'s behaviors so that he might be able to return to school full-time. At his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting in November, school staff told them, “We’re not behavior specialists.” 

The school’s actions were not only unfair; they were illegal. Schools are mandated by the state to perform "Functional Behavior Assessments" (FBAs) and develop "Behavior Intervention Plans" (BIPs) when the actions of a student with a disability or a student referred for an evaluation are impeding learning or leading to disciplinary action. The problem is, most school personnel (and parents) have no idea what these assessments are.

Published in News and views
Monday, 04 November 2013 17:11

Teens at Rikers kept isolated in cells

The New York City Board of Correction released a report last week that documents the stories of three adolescents who were sentenced to more than 200 days in isolation on Rikers Island.

Each of the teens, who were 17 and 18 years old when they were interviewed by the Board, had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness—two with bipolar disorder; one with depression. They had been placed in what's known as 'punitive segregation' for behavioral infractions like fighting or assaulting a corrections officer.

Once in segregation, they spent 23 hours per day alone in their cells, according to the report. Their recreation took place in individual outdoor cages. They weren't allowed to attend school and received no special education services. The majority of their appointments with mental health providers were conducted through cell doors—the adolescent stayed locked inside while the clinician stood in the hallway.

Published in News and views
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 10:32

Ask Judy: My school needs peer mediation

Dear Judy,

I'm a parent who'd like to introduce a Peer Mediation Program to my daughter's principal.  Can you provide information on any services that might provide training to staff members and students alike and are approved by the NYC DOE.  

PSP (Problem solving parent)

Dear PSP,

If your principal doesn't already know about peer mediation, it's a good job for you to introduce  it to him. But principals should know, peer mediation is among several recommended steps under the city's Discipline Code to solve programs without resorting to the most exteme punishments.

With peer mediation, kids work with each other to figure out why a specific problem occurred and how students can solve it. The program not only avoids violence, it develops leadership skills in the children who attend peer mediation training. There are programs which are apt for elementary, middle and high schools.

Like other great additions to a school, it won't  just spring into action.  If you really want peer mediation in your school,  you need to start preparing now. Contact not-for-profit organizations that do peer mediation training, find out what staff they use and how much your school may have to pay. Contact schools with successful programs, to find out what school staff is needed and how they keep the program going.

Published in News and views

Why do 40 percent of New York City high school students miss a month of school each year? The Center for Court Innovation went directly to the source and asked 17 high school students serving on its Youth Justice Board to research the issue. On Tuesday night at City Hall, students 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.

The problem is huge: More than 20 percent of New York City students in grades kindergarten through 12 are chronically absent for a month out of each year --that's five percentage points higher than the national rate.

The Youth Justice Board brings “the voices of young people into issues that affect their lives,” said Steven, a rising senior at Benjamin Bennaker High School. The diverse group of teens represented all five boroughs. The students came up with their recommendations after a year of research that included meeting with student focus groups, teachers, parents, and policy makers. One issue they identified: metal detectors and security at the front door.

Published in News and views
Thursday, 03 January 2013 11:44

Future of NYC schools event with Quinn

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Insideschools and the Center for New York City Affairs will co-host a conversation with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on the future of schools in New York City.

Quinn will discuss her vision for "building a 21st century school system," including college and career readiness. She will also participate in a Q & A with Insideschools' founder and senior editor, Clara Hemphill. This event is one of a series of events with potential 2013 mayoral candidates sponsored by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.  (See a write-up of a 2012 event with mayoral hopeful Tom Allon here.) 

Quinn also spoke about city education policy, along with other potential mayoral candidates, at a GothamSchools event in November. See a rundown of that event here.

The Jan. 15 forum will be at The New School, at 65 West 11th Street, from 8:30 am to 10 am. Tickets are free but you must reserve a seat; RSVP here: http://strongerschools.eventbrite.com/. Do it soon! It's a small venue and seats are going fast.

Published in News and views

Dear Judy

My 16 year old 10th grade daughter received a safety transfer from her very dangerous high school. How do I go about finding a new high school for her?

Confused and anxious

Dear Confused and Anxious.

Transfers are hard to get so your daughter’s experience in an unsafe school must have been harsh. Take the time to find a school that is known for a warm and nurturing atmosphere and which puts emphasis on respectful interactions among student and faculty.

Published in News and views
Thursday, 15 March 2012 20:57

Elementary Dad: Cameras to spy on kids?

In an effort to prevent the sexual abuse of children, my daughter’s elementary school now requires parents to wear little white nametags when we visit classrooms. I’m pleased to report that Operation Nametag has been a success: No charges of child abuse have been filed since it went into effect.

Well, no new charges. The school is still reeling from the arrest in February of a paraprofessional who has been charged with attempting to molest an 8-year-old boy. As the criminal case creeps through the legal system, parents at my daughter’s school are sad, fearful, confused and, above all, angry that the school can’t guarantee their children’s safety.

I personally don’t expect such a guarantee. I agree with Helen Keller, who wrote, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.” But Helen and I hold the minority view. Other parents are proposing a number of reforms that they insist will make my daughter’s school a safer place.

Sadly, many of the ideas are terrible.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 12:24

Ask Judy: My son is being bullied

Dear Judy,

My son has been physically attacked several times in elementary school – I call it bullying—but the classroom teacher is no help when it happens and the rest of the staff has not been helpful either. What can I do to help my son?

Frantic mother in Queens

Dear Frantic Mother in Queens,

Considering all the attention to combating bullying these days, it is really disheartening to hear that your school still has no clue about how to handle it. The week before schools closed for the winter break was Respect for All week  – to highlight activities associated with the Department of Education program to combat bullying.

The goal is to make the schools safe and supportive for all students. Under the Respect for All (RFA) program, schools are to create a school wide atmosphere of respect for all kids regardless of their race, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, weight or disability. The program calls for training at least one staff member to be the RFA – the one person in school that kids can tell about bullying without fear of reprisals, and who knows how to help. That person's name and where to reach him or her should be posted all over the school. Under city regulations both victims and bystanders are encouraged to bring their story to the designated RFA but they, and their parents, can also report online at www.RespectforAll@schools.nyc.gov.

Published in News and views
Friday, 17 February 2012 14:39

Elementary Dad: Helping kids prevent abuse

I attended two presentations last week at my daughter’s Upper West Side elementary school. The first featured the chancellor in charge of New York City schools, who was on hand to absorb parents’ rage after a paraprofessional at the school was arrested on suspicion of sexual misconduct with a young boy.

Talking to an overflow crowd, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said what you’d expect him to say: The safety of children is his top priority, and steps will be taken to make sure incidents like this never happen again. But less than a week later, a teacher at an elementary school in Queens was arrested on suspicion he inappropriately touched young boys.

Both incidents occurred just weeks after the arrest of a teacher’s aide at an elementary school in Brooklyn. Investigators say the aide possessed child pornography and may have created a sexually explicit video at the school.

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 nauerk@newschool.edu. 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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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

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