A standing-room-only crowd greeted Department of Education presenters at the first of six Gifted & Talented information sessions, held Oct. 5 on the Upper West Side. It was a "friendly, lively and through description of the G&T application process," according to Robin Aronow of School Search NYC, with three DOE representatives speaking for more than an hour, and answering parents' questions for another half-hour.
Virtually all of the information presented is detailed in the G&T Handbook, hardcopies of which were available that night (before they ran out) as well as on the DOE's G&T webpage. The handbook describes the process, includes frequently asked questions, an admissions timeline and a practice OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test) by age. The OLSAT is one of two measures that will be administered to children applying for kindergarten through 3rd grade, along with the BSRA (Bracken School Readiness Assessment). The DOE will be looking for a new assessment next year when the current contract with the testing company, Pearson, expires.
There are three G&T sessions remaining: Oct. 11 in Queens, Oct. 12 and 18 in the Bronx and Oct. 18 in Brooklyn. Is it worth attending? Probably not, if you read the handbook carefully, but if you like to hear information directly from the enrollment office or have additional questions, you might benefit.
With thousands of New York City high school students taking the SATs this weekend, the news that a Long Island teenager was arrested and charged with fraudently taking the exam for six other teens, brings into focus yet again, the degree with which testing has become high-stakes at all levels.
Insideschools' blogger Liz Willen, interviewed by NBC News for the story, says the cheating didn't surprise her. After all, New York City teachers have been accused of erasing wrong answers on Regents exams, and some wealthy parents pay big bucks to tutors and consultants to give their kids an advantage in admissions to top colleges. But, she writes, the headlines about the SAT scandal are overshadowing another, very real problem: the number of students who make it to college unprepared, and drop out.
Read her post: "We're asking the wrong questions in the latest SAT cheating scandal," on the Hechinger Report.
I have 8th grade twins in middle school. One is in a combined Collaborative Team-Teaching/SP (honors) class and does not seem to have Regents classes in anything. The other is in a regular SP class and has Regents classes in Earth Science and math. How does whether you take the various Regents exams in 8th grade affect high school curriculums, high school choices, and does it eventually effect the college credit situation too? Can you clarify please? Thank you.
- Twins mother
Dear Twins mother,
If the twin in the CTT class has an IEP, it is crucial that you make sure that the high school he chooses will have the resources and modifications he needs to take the Regents exams. As Insideschools expert Clara Hemphill put it: "I think parents should insist that their child get the most demanding curriculum they can handle. The tendency for the school system is to lower promotional standards for kids with iEPs and as a result they just fall further and further behind. What parents need to do is demand that kids get the extra help they need to meet the higher standards. If the school cannot provide extra help, they can sometimes get the city to pay for private tutoring.
Black graduates of Stuyvesant High School, disturbed by the paltry number of African American students admitted to the prestigious school and other specialized exam high schools, are offering a free cram course -- a "boot camp" -- beginning Sept. 17 to help prepare 8th-grade minority students for the Specialized High School Admissions Test. In 2011 only 12 black students received offers, up from seven the previous year. To help reverse this downward trend, four Stuyvesant alums and teachers will offer intensive tutoring on six Saturdays before the test on Oct. 29 and 30. There will also be a session on test-taking tips for the SHSAT on Sept. 27 (see article update below.)
"We want to increase the number of kids who are taking the test and help them pass," said Renee Eubanks, a 1981 Stuyvesant graduate, now a corporate lawyer. "My Stuyvesant education was a great opportunity -- it really does open doors. A lot of young folks and some parents don't understand what a great opportunity it is."
Wondering how your kid did on the state tests back in May? Individual math and English test scores for grades 3 to 8 should be available today on ARIS parent link. Summer school students will receive August promotion letters and can view test results next week, August 22, and schools will provide printed test reports to all families in September. (See a schedule on the DOE's website.)
Don't have internet access or need help logging onto the ARIS system? The city has set up ARIS access stations at select libraries in all five boroughs next week for parents. Be sure to bring a photo id. Translation services will be provided. The DOE posted library information and schedules (and we've copied the schedule below) and also created a fact sheet to help parents understand the scores.
Students took the mandated state reading and math tests in May this year and New York state released test scores only last week to schools and the city's Department of Education. Parents may wonder why the delay in getting the scores. According to a Education Department spokesperson, the state must complete "due dilligence to make certain that all of the data was accurate."
The city's DOE then sorts the data to make individual scores available to parents via ARIS. This is the second year in a row that English and math test results have not been available until mid-August, two months after school let out. A city spokesperson says that the late exam dates are what cause the delay in releasing scores.
If you'd like to compare your child's scores to the school average, GothamSchools.org posted a handy scrolling tool. You may also download citywide test results, broken down by school, from the DOE website.
Were you able to view your scores on ARIS yet? And how did your child perform compared to last year? Let us know in the comments. See a list of ARIS parent access stations in all boroughs after the jump.
City students’ math and reading test scores inched up slightly this year compared to 2010, when the state imposed tougher testing standards. At a press conference today, Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that, despite more difficult tests this year, the city’s 3rd through 8th graders saw an average increase of 3.3% in math scores and 1.5% in reading. New York City students scored below the state average but city test score increases outpaced the rest of the state. State officials were less enthusiastic when they released the test score data this morning, noting that “overall performance remains low.”
School principals received the scores last Thursday, but individual students' test scores won't be available to parents until Aug. 17. That's the date by which the DOE says scores will be posted in ARIS.
After he praised students, teachers and parents for the improved test scores, the mayor said that 4,808 students recommended for summer school did not have to go after all. Because of the late test dates -- which are administered in May now instead of January and March -- schools must estimate in June which of their students won't pass, based on preliminary scores. Last summer, the DOE underestimated the number of students in need of summer school and 8500 students found out in late July that they should have attended. This year the DOE overestimated, a spokesperson says.
Scores were released too late to curtail summer school for those students who retook the math test today and will take the reading test tomorrow. Even if they don't pass this time around, they will promoted, according to the spokesperson.
For parents without internet access, or who need help logging into ARIS, the city will set up access stations in libraries in every borough beginning Aug. 22. "Parents who do not already have their login information can receive their usernames and passwords at these sites," according to an email Walcott sent to district offices.
The DOE released data broken down by school. An initial glance at reading test results showed the top-scoring schools are among the city's most selective. These include Anderson, Special Music School, and NEST+M, in Manhattan and the Scholar's Academy, and Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens.
New York State is changing the way it evaluates teachers and principals. Starting in the 2011-2012 school year, the state will use a new system to evaluate teacher effectiveness based on factors like classroom performance and student achievement on standardized tests. The new system will affect how teachers and principals progress in their careers. Depending on ratings, teachers and principals may be given extra professional development, granted tenure or fired. Principals will also be judged on the school's performance.
This coming school year, teachers of grades 4-8 ELA and math and their principals will be evaluated under the new system. In 2012-13 all teachers and principals are scheduled for evaluation under the system.
Under the new system, each teacher and principal will receive an annual professional performance review (APPR) resulting in a single effectiveness score on a four-point rating system of "highly effective," "effective," "developing," or "ineffective." Under the current, less nuanced system, teachers either received satisfactory or unsatisfactory scores.
This year, still being rated with the old ratings system, about 97% of all New York City teachers received "satisfactory" ratings. These numbers correlate with the amount of NYC teachers denied tenure this year, which was also around 3%, and are likely a result of "the city's sustained push to usher more weak teachers out of the system," according to Gothamschools.org. In 2010, the city introduced a four-point rating system for awarding tenure similar to the system the state will put into effect next year, and the number of teachers who recently received tenure dropped dramatically compared to past years.
According to the state Board of Regents, the following factors will determine "teacher effectiveness" ratings:
- Student growth on state assessments or a comparable measure of student achievement growth (20%)
- Locally-selected measures of student achievement that are determined to be rigorous and comparable across classrooms (20%)
- other measures of teacher/principal effectiveness (60%) including multiple classroom observations for teachers and broad assessment of leadership and management actions for principals.
You can read more details on the New York State Education Department website. Advocates for Children posted fact sheets in English and Spanish to help parents understand the system and to monitor it for fairness.
Mayor Bloomberg declared an end to tenure as an "automatic right" for New York City teachers, when he announced last week that only 58% of over 5,000 eligible teachers were approved for tenure this year. This number represents a sharp departure from just five years ago, when 99% of eligible teachers earned tenure. The mayor attributed the significantly lower number to a tougher teacher rating policy that went into effect in 2010.
Of the teachers who were not granted tenure, 39% will have their probationary period extended through the coming year, and the remaining 3% were denied tenure, excluding them from working for city schools. According to The New York Times, a similar amount of all New York City teachers received unsatisfactory or "U" ratings this year, "suggesting the percentage of truly bad teachers in the school system may be similar across experience levels."
State law mandates that teachers are eligible for tenure after completing a three year probation and allows districts to determine how tenure will be awarded. In December, the city announced a new four-point rating scale for earning tenure--highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective. Teachers must rank in one of the top two categories two years in a row to earn tenure. If principals rate teachers still-developing or ineffective, they must give written feedback to teachers on how they may improve. Principals and their supervisors are supposed to weigh test scores, parent feedback, classroom observations and other factors to determine the ratings. (Gothamschools.org has a copy of the "effectiveness framework" rating scale.)
Bloomberg and schools' Chancellor Dennis Walcott say the new system enforces higher standards for teachers and gives teachers clearer guidelines on how to improve. The pair went a step further on Bloomberg's weekly radio show, when the mayor questioned the need for tenure and suggested it's an unnecessary throwback from the McCarthy era. Walcott predicted that the number of teachers denied tenure, or put on probation, will increase next year.
Critics charge that the four-point teacher-effectiveness rating scale is not clear enough and fear that principals may give poor ratings for personal reasons that have little to do with teacher performance. Two teachers writing on GothamSchools.org say school administrators discriminated against them because of union activity.
What do you think? Do you agree with the stricter requirements for teacher tenure? Take our poll!
New York City's high school graduation rate rose from 59% in 2009 to 61% in 2010, but only 35% of the graduates were prepared for college, the state and city reported today.
The 2010 graduation rate represents students who entered high school in 2006 and graduated in June of 2010 with either a Local or Regents diploma. (When August graduates are included, the city's rate rises to 65%). To obtain a Local diploma students need only a passing score of 55 on two of the five Regents exams; for a Regents diploma the passing score is 65. But, the Local diploma is being phased out and all students who enter 9th grade in 2008 or later need a score of 65 or above on all the exams to earn a diploma.
In addition to stiffening graduation requirements, the state has begun to measure how well high schools are preparing students for college. Testing experts told the State Education Department last year that nearly a quarter of students enrolled in New York State colleges needed to take remedial courses. The state calculates that students must score 80 or higher on the math Regents and at least 75 on the English Regents to be prepared for college. It also considers the number of graduates who earn Advanced Regents Diplomas, passing seven Regents exams with a score of 65. In 2010, 16.4% of NYC graduates earned an Advanced Regents Diploma, up from 12.5% in 2005. By those standards, referred to as "Aspirational Performance Measures," only 35% of the 2010 graduates were "college ready."
Statistics clearly show that the gap between the college-readiness rate at highly selective and specialized high schools and non-selective schools is huge, but graduates of some of the new, small schools also did well.
Among them: Manhattan/Hunter High School for Science had 75% of its entering 9th graders finish on time and ready for college, High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies, 74%, and Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, 59% . Marble Hill High School for International Studies, a small school for new immigrants in the Bronx, had a college-readiness rate of 40%, higher than the city's average.
Over-all, schools created since 2002 have an average graduation rate of 65.7%, compared with 46.1% for schools the city decided to phase out.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott, heralded the improvement in graduation rates for black and Hispanic students, who make up 70% of the city's school population. "The graduation rate reached 60.6 % for black students and 58.2 % for Hispanic students, both increases of more than 20 points since 2005," according to the press release, although they are still lower than those of their white and Asian counterparts.
More than 34,000 students in grades 3 to 8 scored so low on the 2011 standardized math and reading tests this spring that they will need to attend summer school July 5, the Department of Education reports. The number assigned to summer school has more than tripled since 2009, largely because the state raised its standards in 2010. Students cannot be promoted if they score Level 1 (out of 4) on the exams. They may attend summer school, retake the exams in August and be promoted if they score Level 2.
Although the test results won't be available until late July, the DOE is basing its recommendations on preliminary data. Officials say results are delayed because the state tests are now given in May, rather than in January and March as in previous years.
Last year the DOE grossly underestimated the number of students needing to attend summer school: in June they recommended 22,802 students go to summer school, but once the actual results came out in late July, it turned out that 31,000 should have attended. And, they found that another 1,800 children had actually passed the exams and should not have been sent to summer classes. This year, after consulting with the state, the DOE is "predicting that the cutoff between a score of 1 and 2 will fall at roughly the same place it did last year," a spokesperson said.
The DOE estimates that 16,298 did not meet criteria on the reading (ELA); 10,058 missed the passing mark in math, and 7,713 failed to pass either exam. Update: The 34,069 total recommended for summer school represents 9% of the 3rd-8th graders who took the tests.
At 3 p.m. today, principals received the list of names of students who are slated for summer school. They have until close of business on Wednesday to appeal a recommendation if they believe a student should be promoted without attending summer school. They must provide a portfolio of the student's work to the district superintendent who makes the final promotion decision.
Last summer, roughly half of the students got passing marks on the August exams with 11,321 of the 22,802 summer school attendees promoted to the next grade.
Actual results for all May test-takers in grades 3-8 will not be available to parents until mid-August when they will be posted on the ARIS Parent Link. No word yet on how many high school students may be facing summer school: Regents exam week begins on Wednesday and the results of those tests help determine whether a student passes a course or must retake it in summer school.
An information sheet for parents about the testing timeline and summer school is posted on the DOE's website.